Creative Approaches to the World’s Grand Challenges: Hacking Conservation & Development

Speaking: Alex Dehgan, Chanler Innovator in Residence with Duke's Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program; John Bradburn, General Motors; and Chad Pregracke, Living Lands & Waters.

Alex Dehgan: The world is facing urgent challenges to the planet’s future, created by our species’ own successes. Global population is expected to rise to 9.6 billion by 2050, and coupled with it, the desire of emerging middle classes for energy, transportation, and resource-intensive diets. This is made more complicated as the planet itself is undergoing vast biological and physical changes due to climate change and environmental degradation. Although the problems have been increasing exponentially, the solutions have been linear, and there isn’t sufficient global development and conservation funding to solve the problems. How can we create new pathways for industrialization, address the underlying drivers for extinction, harness new solvers and solutions, and create new economies? Alex's talk will examine how we may harness emerging technology, open innovation, and entrepreneurship & finance, to rethink our solution set for wicked problems and accelerate innovation. 

John and Chad: Big businesses and small organizations both bring a lot to the table, and with the right push, can work together to combine their complementary strengths in really exciting ways. John Bradburn has helped lead General Motors to reach 150 landfill-free facilities around the world, and has helped transform common manufacturing wastes into new car parts for GM vehicles. Chad Pregracke and his team on the Living Lands & Waters barges have pulled millions of pounds of materials out of US waterways, with hands-on help from almost 100,000 volunteers from area communities and companies. 

With both organizations keen on closing the loop and evolving partnerships, GM is now working with LL&W to remanufacture tires collected on the barge into new car parts; an excellent case study of how large companies can reach beyond their industry and partner with small organizations to find or drive innovation and new opportunities.

Following these two talks, guided table discussion will then focus on "What roles might open source approaches and the “replacement economy” play accelerating sustainable innovation? What are some exciting examples of collaboration and innovative partnerships in your company, and how can they scale?"