Choosing Innovations

Le February 15, 2021

Rest assured. The billions raised will never be awarded to companies simply because Time for the Planet co-founders love an idea. That would be neither humble nor methodical. From the start, our approach has been based on collective intelligence, science and agile methods. To unearth the best innovations, we have designed a rigorous selection method. The best scientists obviously. The best innovations, of course. The best potential for reducing GHG and the best potential for economic benefits. Only with the highest standards can we confront the greatest challenge to mankind.

I. Finding Fabulous Innovations

First things first. Before choosing and financing these innovations, we need to source as many as possible so the best candidates rise to the top.

At any one time, worldwide, there are thousands of innovations capable of changing the future. To find them, it’s not enough to leaf through scientific articles or analyze innovation blogs. Close contact with inventors and scientists is key.

We network with scientists, laboratories and researchers to name a few. We also monitor international scientific news through seminars, conferences, published material, etc.

Yet quite simply, what works best is having a personal relationship. To cite the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, we are all on average six or fewer social connections from any other person in the world.

Our greatest asset in identifying solutions for our 20 issues is our community of partners and their networks. This participative element is key to our detection process. It is important to optimize the number of people we work with to create an unprecedented international grassroots movement.

How do we do this? It only takes a few minutes to suggest an innovation on our website. Anyone can do it. We then contact inventors for detailed information on their solutions. How far along are they? What’s the possible economic model? In short, all the information necessary for drawing up an Innovation Information Sheet. This info sheet is important as it serves as supporting documentation for preselection.

Our detection strategy is participative and will become even more powerful as the Time for the Planet movement expands.

II. Types of Innovations

When discussing innovations for the future, there is often a clash between two different world views: high tech versus low tech.

On one side, some push for an even more technological approach. They believe that the current development mode and science alone will allow human civilization to carry on. More and more science, always more science: transhumanism, inter-connected objects and so forth.

On the other side, are the defenders of scaling back technology, or low tech which uses little or no energy. This presents very low development costs as it is based on existing technologies.

Time for the Planet is not categorical. Based on the stakes, we are counting on a combination of high-tech and low-tech solutions. Including no technology if the occasion arises!

We can easily imagine thousands of bikes on Parisian streets coexisting with self-driving electric taxis made out of bamboo and using organic batteries. It’s possible – both economically and intellectually. Technology is not responsible for the destruction of the environment. Technology results from choices made without knowledge of ecological limits.

The 20 issues identified by Time for the Planet can all be addressed using both high tech, low tech, and even simple innovative business models.

III. Innovation Selection: Assessment Criteria

The first criterion for assessment is whether the innovation fits within the Time for the Planet scope. To decide, we need to refer to the matrix presented in section 3.IV of the Scientific Brief.

Three other criteria are taken into account:

  • Impact on the potential market: the proposed solution must address a sufficiently large market. It must be effective enough and have a significant measurable impact on GHG emissions and their capture. And this must be on a planet-wide basis.
  • Technical maturity and degree of innovation: we will select mature solutions that require little R&D if they have a visible short-term impact. Solutions requiring heavy R&D will be selected only if their impact is globally visible in the medium- or long-term.
  • Ease of rollout with an open-source solution: not all businesses are made for open-source deployment. This depends greatly on the proposed business model as well as any customization which may be necessary for rapid global application.

IV. Stages in Innovation Selection

Once the analytic framework is clearly specified, an evaluation is made and it must be as objective as possible. The following stages meet this challenge:

Preselection through collective intelligence

To make a preliminary assessment of the identified innovations, we assemble a pool of evaluators from around the world. This panel’s diversity - scientific experts, professionals from the sectors under evaluation, and even potential users - guarantees the rating is pertinent. Collective preselection reduces individual biases inherent to country, expertise, surroundings, gender and other characteristics.

The panel rates each proposed solution on the three criteria presented above. All solutions are first reviewed using a common reference guide, so they all have an equal chance.

Once the preselection is completed, we can then drill down into the details of each innovation. We validate each solution’s technical relevance, business potential and alignment with Time for the Planet’s model before even considering the subsidiary which will run the project. This is crucial. Consequently, we have introduced not a one- nor a two- but a three-step validation process.

Scientific Committee Validation

First and foremost is the scientific and technical validation. There’s no point estimating the market potential or questioning the ethics of a solution if it doesn’t work.

The scientific committee provides an opinion on a solution’s scientific relevance and technical feasibility. This opinion is then followed by a vote before the solution moves on to step two in the validation process. When the committee votes no, Time for the Planet will not finance the solution.

The Scientific Committee is responsible for this validation. It is composed of:

  • A full-time Chairperson who is the guarantor of Time for the Planet method and approach.
  • From 3 to 12 members who are scientific experts

The members are named for 3-year terms, with one third renewed at a time.

The experts receive no wages or compensation for this activity. Further, there must be no conflict of interest with their professional or voluntary activities. A member with a potential conflict of interest may attend the meetings but cannot vote under any circumstances.

This Scientific Committee meets as often as necessary and at least three times per quarter. Innovators are also invited to attend the committee meetings so they may discuss and defend their solution before the scientists.

Decisions made by majority where each member has one vote. In the event of a tie, the Chairperson casts the deciding vote. 

Potential Market Validation

A scientific and technical solution does not necessarily meet market expectation.

Consequently, the solution’s product/market fit is analyzed. In other words, rethinking a solution’s competitive advantage to meet market demand. Examples include a lower price, better quality or greater durability.

Time for the Planet, the Scientific Committee and the innovator work on this jointly before moving on to “high frequency testing” which will confirm market potential in an empiric manner.

During this high-frequency testing phase, Time for the Planet takes the reins. Over a three-week period, working with a dedicated team of “growth hackers” and a budget of several thousands euros, we evaluate the market’s appetite for the solution as well as the economic model’s relevance.

Real-life testing is conducted as though the solution were already available: meetings with prospective clients, creation of landing pages to present the solution, advertising on social media, or retargeting, to mention a few.

At this stage, the resulting KPIs are analyzed. They allow Time for the Planet to decide whether to move on to the following step, or not.

Regardless of Time for the Planet’s decision, all test results and analyses are made available to innovators so they can improve product positioning and their sales pitch.

Ethical Validation

Once the innovation is vetted scientifically and economically, the final stage is a presentation before all Time for the Planet partners.

The co-founders verify that the innovator’s values are aligned with those of Time for the Planet’s; we also confirm there are no conflicts of interest. This is the first ethical validation for our partners.

We then prepare the investment file. It presents the solution, the different analyses (technical, market, team and other) and details the suggested subsidiary funding such as timeline and ticket size. This file is first presented to the Time for the Planet Board for their opinion. The investment file and opinion are then sent to all the partners.

Lastly, a General Assembly for Time for the Planet partners is convened. The subsidiary’s investment resolution is presented and a vote is called.

If the resolution passes, the subsidiary can be created to develop the solution.

To the contrary, if the resolution is rejected, the file can be reworked and improved, taking criticisms into account before being submitted to another General Assembly vote. For an overwhelming rejection, the file may be completely dropped.

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