Stakeholder Engagement as a pathway to Innovation
An unexpected outcome of our core work to improve the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement is that it often leads to surprising new innovation.
For many clients, EcoLogix Group first works to engage stakeholders at a high level, building basic understanding among interested (and often aggrieved) parties on the fundamentals of an activity – like the economic and jobs impacts associated with seaport improvements, or the human health impacts associated with air emissions from the movement of cargo and passengers.
Once trust is established, the dialogue can move to specific project issues and opportunities. In this phase, EcoLogix Group facilitates information exchange and connects stakeholders with verifiers including independent technical experts from academia or advocacy groups. The outcome is typically improved understanding and agreement on how to move forward with physical development projects or operational practices.
In one example, a national environmental advocacy group performed a study to determine whether cold ironing would be effective at a particular seaport. Cold ironing is a term that describes the complex practice of shutting down the engines of a deep draft cargo vessel while it is at berth being loaded or unloaded and instead drawing its power needs from the electric grid. Many environmental groups believe that cold ironing is a universally good practice. In this case however, armed with a better understanding of the issues, the environmental group reached the conclusion that due to the specific factors associated with the subject port, cold ironing was not an effective solution. This outcome lead to the parties working together on other mutually interesting air quality initiatives that achieved the same air quality goals in a better way.
Beyond the project phase, stakeholder relationships can lead to exciting new partnering opportunities. It is these types of discussions that often lead our clients to explore innovation in operational practices and technologies. , Many public sector clients naturally tend to develop a specification for innovative solutions, and ask for proposals from qualified firms, which produces – not surprisingly – something different than what the client wanted.
Seeing the desire for innovation as an opportunity for our clients, EcoLogix Group began working with small entrepreneurs to introduce innovative environmental ideas on a small scale by bringing parties together to create partnerships and identify funding opportunities in order to test a new technology.
In doing this work, we found that entrepreneurs often need help to further develop their ideas, so we acquired the expertise to commercialize new environmental products by verifying the market, developing go-to-market strategies, branding and promoting products using a variety of communication platforms.