The Results Are In: Product Leaders Report a Need for Speed and a Roadmap to Sustainable Innovation

Findings from the Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey

Imagine sailing in the World Cup race without a strategic plan or a map. It is a sport where speed is of the essence, decisions (and perhaps more importantly the timing of those decisions) are paramount, and team talents must be optimized at any moment. With competitors abound displaying their impressive spinnakers and advanced technology–only the risk takers advance. The will to win is apparent, yet without a strategy and a map, a team would drift into execution mode and lose the race.
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If You’re Out to Change the World, How Do You Know When to Move On?

A certain phrase has gained currency in my world lately: the notion that a social enterprise must have an “exit strategy.” Social enterprises, of course, are organizations designed primarily to yield social versus financial value. But here the community is borrowing a term from traditional venture capitalists, who know that a big part of maximizing returns is having a plan for when and how to end one’s involvement in a venture and invest resources elsewhere.

It’s much-needed advice. At least in my corner of the social enterprise world (the part that focuses on communities’ access to good water), I have yet to see a successful, strategic exit. To be sure, many international water agencies have left developing countries but those exits tend to reflect a loss of funding or end of a contract — or sometimes a convenient belief that a community water challenge has been solved by simply installing a water system and providing basic community management training. Read more

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Chemists work to desalt the ocean for drinking water, 1 nanoliter at a time

Microscale method requires so little energy that it can run on a store-bought battery

AUSTIN, Texas – By creating a small electrical field that removes salts from seawater, chemists at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany have introduced a new method for the desalination of seawater that consumes less energy and is dramatically simpler than conventional techniques. The new method requires so little energy that it can run on a store-bought battery. Read more

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Transforming solar pumping to eliminate rural poverty

Guest post by Paul Polak, author, “Out of Poverty” and founder of International Development Enterprises

What if we could harness the limitless power of the sun to carry water to the crops of millions of small poor farmers around the world?

If I want to water my petunias, I turn on the tap outside my house, hold my thumb over the end of a battered green hose and water away.

If a small farmer in Ghana or China wants to water a small patch of vegetables he’s growing to sell in the local market, he breaks his back hauling water in two buckets or sprinkling cans from a nearby stream. It takes six hours a day every other day for three months to water a tenth of an acre of vegetables which might sell for $100 at the most. Read more

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Water ATMs bring new meaning to pay-as-you go


Each year, waterborne disease affects 40 million Indians. This costs people time and money. Getting safe, potable water to urban and rural Indians is not just a good idea, it makes economic sense.

Sarvajal, meaning “Water for All”, was launched by The Piramal Foundation in 2008 as a for-profit business to find a mass-market solution to dirty drinking water. What unfolded was a technological solution that made providing clean water profitable for businesses, and also still affordable for families. Read more

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Future of water demands innovation and conservation

With water stresses already at high levels in many parts of the world and not expected to ease in 2013, a number of innovators are trying new technologies to produce, purify and conserve this critical resource.

New solutions will be needed across the globe. The central US, for example, which experienced withering drought through 2012, is likely to see continued drier-than-average conditions in the months ahead, according to the latest outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

While places like California and even Texas are exploring the potential to generate more fresh water for drinking and agriculture from desalination, conservation is viewed as a key strategy. By 2060, for example, conservation strategies are expected to help meet 24 percent of Texas’ water needs. Read more

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