Announced at Lions Innovation in Cannes by Unilever senior vice president of global media Luis di Comolast week, Foundry IDEAS will enable collaboration between consumers and innovators to look for solutions to sustainability challenges.

The platform is designed to support the delivery of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, inviting users to develop ideas and solutions to contribute to Unilever’s sustainability initiatives.

‘Grand challenges’ will be regularly uploaded to the platform where community members can submit ideas and comment on other peoples using collaboration and up-voting. Solutions will then be rewarded with opportunities to pilot ideas and implementations, including mentoring with Unilever experts and experiences and trips which will allow the winners to see the impact of sustainability projects.

Unilever senior vice president of sustainable business development Sue Garrard said: “We’re five years into our ten year Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to make our operations and brands more sustainable. We have made huge strides in our factories and with our suppliers.

“The next stage is to find people with new and innovative ideas so that together we can help transform the way we live our daily lives, for us all to become more sustainable.”

Grand challenges

Current ‘grand challenges’ on the Foundry IDEAS platform include three tasks to develop sustainability ideas in the areas of sanitation, hygiene and nutrition.

The projects will look to develop new ideas on how to give 100m people better access to sanitation by 2020, inventing new shower technologies to be more luxurious and sustainable and finding ways to enable millions of African families to access more nutritious cooking.

More companies are embracing digital platforms and social media in an effort to drive sustainability and promote new innovation. Using its new global platform, Unilever hopes to help get new initiatives to market faster by connecting ideas and start-ups with professionals and funding opportunities.

Last year, Unilever’s climate summit campaign went viral. In a joint campaign between Unilever and the social networking site Upworthy the campaign engaged more than 9.7 million people in its first week. 

Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands accounted for half of the company’s growth in 2014. The company also saw improvments to the sourcing of raw materials and reductions in water useage and CO2 emissions.

Edie recently devised a list of five ways social media is revolutionising corporate social responsibility, from viral campaigns to gamification. 

Matt Field

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