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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Accelerating innovation

Innovation is needed at a pace and scale to tackle social and environmental challenges. We work with companies, innovators, entrepreneurs and small business leaders to discover, support and scale commercial solutions to real-world challenges. Many of our programmes and initiatives operate at the interface between problem-holders and problem-solvers where we can curate the conversation, and provide a space for collaboration and exploration. 


SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs

We work with the disruptive innovators, entrepreneurs and small business leaders pioneering change, and rewiring our economy to deliver a sustainable future. Our Accelerator draws on CISL’s knowledge of supporting leading companies and individuals to develop solutions to urgent social and environmental challenges; tapping into our global network across business, finance and policy, alongside Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s extensive cluster of innovators and entrepreneurs. We expose our clients to the latest technologies and business models, supporting them to refine their innovation, collaboration and corporate venturing strategies.

Read more about our Accelerator programme.


Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards

For five years we worked with Unilever to support and develop entrepreneurs aiming to tackle global challenges through enterprise. The Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards, delivered by Unilever and CISL, support and celebrate inspirational young people from all over the world who have existing initiatives, products or services tackling some of the planet’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Learn more about the Awards.


Advisory work 

We assist our clients in achieving step-change innovation across products, process and even fundamental business models to keep pace with rapid tech innovation and to achieve transformational change.

Read more our advisory work in innovation for sustainability.


Innovation process

We recognise that innovation for sustainability needs to happen in a range of ways. We work with organisations to create new processes, from people development plans to engaging with stakeholders across the supply chain in order to deliver the circular economy.

Read more about our work with Interface. 


Harnessing financial innovation through multi-sector collaboration 

Digital technologies, from blockchain to big data, are transforming financial services. There is a growing appreciation of the transformative potential of harnessing this digital revolution to support broader efforts to direct capital to sustainable business models. Pockets of promising innovation are evident around the world. But these are the exception, not the rule.

CISL convenes finance and business collaborations to prove sustainable fintech concepts in practice. We also work with governments and industry groups to embed what we learn into broader innovation processes. Through this work we have developed recommendations on how to design collaboration between multinationals, financial institutions and startups to better harness fintech to solve sustainability challenges. We have also demonstrated the potential of harnessing digital innovation and financial technologies to improve the sustainability of global supply chains.

Read more about work to drive sustainability through digital finance innovation