Advanced Innovation Centre: Social innovation can solve business challenges

Solving social challenges can create corporate profits, says Alfredo Zolezzi from the Advanced Innovation Centre

December 16, 2015

Social innovation is not charity, says Alfredo Zolezzi, Chief Innovation Officer for the Advanced Innovation Centre: it is how corporations can continue growing profits in the future. He discusses the Advanced Innovation Centre’s latest project, its ethical ethos, and the kind of partners the business is looking for.

World Finance: Linking social innovation with corporate sustainability is Chile’s exclusive contribution to community uplifting programming in the world. Now, one such trailblazer joins me now: Alfredo Zolezzi, thank you so much for joining me.

So first, let’s start with what’s so different about the innovation that you’ve created, that we haven’t seen in successive forms?

Alfredo Zolezzi: Well, when we’re doing this test linking all this incredible amount of technology and knowledge that is available today to tackle all problems – but with the aim of creating real impact.

World Finance: Why should corporations care about social innovation?

Alfredo Zolezzi: Because social innovation is not charity. Social innovation is addressing in a different way the problems that they are facing, with the community, for the community, but for their own benefit.

In the near future, most of these large corporations will not be able to really run their projects, or develop their projects.

World Finance: Also, can you tell me about some of the emerging trends in Latin America that have helped facilitate your project?

Alfredo Zolezzi: There’s important things happening there: not only innovation is important for all governments, but there is a new economic bloc there called the Pacific Alliance – Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile. And the four governments, and business people from the four countries, are giving lots of importance to innovation. In fact, I’m proposing some programmes for the Pacific Alliance, and they are allowing me to address the social issues, together with the economic issues that they’re addressing.

Corporations should understand that they have to create value – but not only for them: also for the communities, and the environment.

World Finance: So, before we start talking about the technological innovation that you’ve created, tell me about why innovation matters?

Alfredo Zolezzi: We have so many problems today: social unrest, mounting social unrest everywhere. It means that current models are not working. So it’s the time to innovate, to create different approaches to these problems.

World Finance: So how do we begin addressing global issues?

Alfredo Zolezzi: I think that we need to open our eyes. It’s not possible that we have the Curiosity Rover on Mars – on a different planet! – and we have children dying every 201 seconds.

World Finance: It’s important that you’ve brought up all of these issues, as using an integrated approach has really become a nascent trend, particularly among emerging nations. So tell me about where you draw innovation inspiration among your neighbouring countries?

Alfredo Zolezzi: I’m not getting any inspiration from countries. But the problems – common problems that all these countries are facing – it’s incredible, the amount of social issues that are not just hurting the lives of people, but their relationship with the economy.

We’re seeing this social unrest hurting the economy of countries. And we’re not fighting effectively against poverty.

World Finance: Based on your mission, tell me what the next wave is? In terms of technological innovation coming out of your centre.

Alfredo Zolezzi: We created a technology that is very important, because it can sanitise water – a continuous flow of polluted water – at a very low cost.

So, instead of taking this technology to the market, what we’re doing is showing to the market that there is a way to take technology first to the people who need the technology the most.

World Finance: Finally, what’s next for the Advanced Innovation Centre?

Alfredo Zolezzi: It’s a very important step. We should select a new industrial partner to take this globally.

We don’t want to be picked by a large corporation, or by the one that has the most money. We want to select who’s going to be that industrial partner. They’d have to subscribe to our vision, and also have all the necessary capacities.

World Finance: Fabulous. Well thank you so much for joining me today.

Alfredo Zolezzi: Thank you, Kumutha.