How resource scarcity is driving the third Industrial Revolution

How resource scarcity is driving the third Industrial Revolution | McKinsey & Company.

Will shortages of energy, materials, food, and water put the brakes on global growth? Far from it. By combining information technology with industrial technology, as well as through harnessing materials science and biotechnology, innovators are showing that it is possible to produce more with less and to access resources at far lower costs. In this video interview, former McKinsey director Stefan Heck and director Matt Rogers, coathors of the new book Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century (New Harvest, April 2014), argue that to be successful, managers will need to think in new ways about products, services, and technologies. An edited transcript of their remarks follows.

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Universities as anchors of the economy and society

The discipline of quantifying the contribution of universities in terms of their economic and social ‘good’ is no easy task. This shouldn’t be simply a justification – but more a recognition of the netpositive effect universities can have – and not just socially and economically, but environmentally too. The Universities That Count project and the work of Net Positive Futures and the Stockholm Environment Institute are notable examples doing similar things:

 

The report published today (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2014/news86932.html) presents new analysis of the return on the public investment in knowledge exchange through Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF). For every £1 of HEFCE knowledge exchange funding over the period from 2003 to 2012, £6.30 has been earned in gross additional income, and the report acknowledges that the total benefits to the economy and society are likely to be greater.

 

Successful universities are also building strong, sustainable and positive relationships with the private sector – looking to future challenges and providing, together, innovative research, knowledge transfer, teaching and learning. Boeing, GSK, Rolls Royce, are prominent in this field and Universities like Nottingham are putting in the infrastructure to work with them: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/servicesforbusiness/services/index.aspx

 

But in addition to this useful report, we should also consider how universities interact with our natural resources, by understanding the positive and negative effects they have on local and global resources. Balancing all three metrics would show how universities can be truly sustainable.