What is and how to develop sustainable innovation?
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Today the terms sustainable development and sustainable innovation are often used. But what is meant by these terms, other than that they in some ways are connected to the terms ‘green’ and ‘ecological’ seen in a long-term perspective? How, in turn, are sustainable innovations developed? Studying the literature on the topic leads to the conclusion that there is no precise or established definition of sustainable innovation, sustainability and sustainable development. A conclusion in the paper is that we now need to focus on how to develop new sustainable innovations, and for these, product development is the most important element. It has been found that Dynamic Product Development (DPD™) is a model that satisfies the different definitions on sustainability that have been proposed. The result of a product development project is based on the product developer’s knowledge, experience and ability. The leadership of an entrepreneur (or intrapreneur) is also important for the level of sustainability of an innovation that is achieved. Therefore, the product developers and entrepreneurs need to be educated in a broader perspective than is common in the technical field today. The product developers must also be monitored in the actual work situation to ensure that new products that are not sustainable are not being marketed. This, in turn, calls for a similar, broader perspective in management education. To describe what a sustainable innovation is and how it is developed, the following definitions are proposed: a sustainable solution is a solution that has been developed to be a long-lasting, environmentally responsible solution for the provider (the business), the society and also the users; an innovation is a new solution that has been ‘sold’ and is used by more than one user or that is used in at least one-use situation; the innovation process, done as an innovation project, contains all of the stages from idea generation, development (R&D) and commercialization to an implemented solution on the market.