How Bluefield Transformed Sustainability into a Platform for Innovation
Climate change remains one of the greatest health, environmental, and economic risks of the twenty-first century. Based on data from both the World Health Organization and The Climate Reality Project, extreme weather and rising temperatures cost lives and increase the transmission of infectious diseases and the vectors in which they spread. In addition, these same factors also negatively impact our access to clean air, potable water, and food supply chains.
Further compounding this problem, methane remains a major contributor to climate change. A potent greenhouse gas, methane is over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the Earth. At present, currently 60 percent of the methane in the atmosphere emanates from man-made sources. When not properly managed, methane leaks represent a lethal risk and it continues to be extremely costly for individual organizations to track the millions of emitting sites around the globe.
Enter Bluefield Technologies, an innovative, micro-satellite technology company that is revolutionizing methane monitoring. Because emissions contain vast amounts of critical, highly sought-after information, Bluefield’s methane tracking micro-satellites capture all of this elusive data from millions of emitters wherever they are located. The company processes the data in real time and delivers change detection analytics to many of the world’s largest organizations in the private, public and governmental sectors.
I recently spoke with Yotam Ariel, Bluefield Technologies’ Founder and CEO. A serial entrepreneur whom I’d had the pleasure of meeting in Hong Kong a couple of years ago, Yotam explained Bluefield’s mission and how their technology enables them to detect and quantify almost every methane-emitting site across the planet.
“Realizing that we're fighting climate change blindfolded, I set out to make the invisible greenhouse gases visible. We created something that functions like a Google Map but, instead of addresses, we can see every critical emitter on our planet in real-time and channel resources to reduce emissions in the most effective ways,” he elaborated. To put it succinctly, Bluefield provides solutions that include real-time monitoring and analytics with daily reporting. The company owns and operates satellites and then sends the relevant data to its clients, eliminating prohibitive cost, the need for complex tech know-how, and bypassing any accessibility issues for in-house, methane-detection programs. Bluefield is able to achieve this through its implementation of a NASA-tested technology, with a larger sensor version implemented in NASA’s UARS (HALOE) satellite.
With a vision to become “Earth’s breathing monitor,” Bluefield provides this data which empowers government agencies, regulatory bodies, and various stakeholders to keep track of the level of emissions at a country or local level where further action can then be implemented. As a practical example, an energy company may receive funding from a financial institution whose investors desire more capital to be allocated to sustainable companies. By providing this data, Bluefield helps the energy company to track their emissions while also providing a credible, third-party source to financial institutions and regulatory agencies that the energy company is compliant with emissions laws. To date, Bluefield counts among its clients a number of global energy companies, aerospace and defense firms, consulting firms, and various multinational companies.
How can companies emulate Bluefield and leverage sustainability as a platform for innovation? Lyrium advocates a five-phased approach, as developed by Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. Rangaswami, set out below:
Convert Compliance into an Opportunity – Companies typically adopt sustainability measures when required by industry regulators. However, by complying with more stringent rules before they are enforced, they may be able to achieve first-mover advantage and cost efficiencies, while developing more productive relationships with regulators.
Build Sustainable Value Chains – Once basic compliance requirements are met, companies can then focus on becoming more proactive on sustainability issues. For example, a company’s own sustainability approach can then be further extended to suppliers and across distribution channels.
Integrate Sustainability into Design Thinking – Companies will have to evolve across a phased approach. Developing the insights needed for product innovation will require competencies that have been developed as part of this process. Once that happens, the priorities will become clearer.
Create a New Business Model – Take a customer-centric approach. Focusing on the customer value proposition will enable businesses to create new business models, with technology an enabler for challenging the status quo.
Craft “Next Practice” Platforms - Next practices involve a paradigm shift. This means executives will need to question the assumptions behind their current business model and management strategies, but doing so may uncover opportunities otherwise missed.
As a starting point, companies can review their business models and mission statements in relation to their Sustainable Development Goals or other social responsibility challenges. By adopting and implementing the above approach, companies can continue to innovate and increase opportunities for future growth within the current, post COVID-19 environment.