The ninth goal of the 2030 UN Agenda is to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (1). Moreover, the goal also promotes investment in scientific research and equal universal access to the internet.
Therefore, the objectives are to generate employment and income, bring prosperity, and build sustainable and prosperous societies around the world (2). In other words, it benefits the economic growth of a country, as sustainable industrialization is responsible for lifting communities out of poverty (6).
Additionally, with billions of dollars spent each year on growth and infrastructure, SDG 9 highlights the importance of innovative sustainable technologies to reduce environmental footprint, employ clean technologies without causing additional pressure on people and on the environment (4).
On the other hand, many developing countries are at a disadvantage as they suffer from a lack of access to new technologies which directly affect their economic growth and social development (4). Basic infrastructure, information, communication technologies, sanitation, electricity, and water, continue to be scarce in many developing countries (7).
The expenses in research by different countries
As it was mentioned in our articles on SDG 6 and SDG 7, 759 million people do not have access to electricity, 2.2 billion people do not have access to drinking water and more than 4.2 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.
On top of that, most of the developing regions spend less than 1 per cent of GDP on research and development, compared to developed countries that had the proportion of global GDP invested in research and development increased from 1.61 to 1.73 per cent in 2018 (1).
Also in 2018, the share of medium and high-technology manufacturing in total manufacturing was 49 per cent in developed countries and 41.4 per cent in some developing countries. On the other hand, in the least developed countries, it was only 8.9 per cent (1).
These numbers reinforce the challenges that the least developed countries are dealing with to achieve SDG 9.
The issue of internet access
Another issue related to this goal is universal and affordable access to the internet, which should have been provided by 2020. However, in April 2021, still, 3.1 billion people around the world remain without internet access, with the majority of these people in developing regions (8). So, clearly, the world has failed in achieving this target.
In addition, COVID-19 has been a challenge to achieve this target, while also amplifying the importance of the internet as an essential tool for daily life (9).
At current growth rates, it would take 10 years to bring internet access to these 3.1 billion people (8). Highlighting the importance of governments and companies to take actions related to this issue.
Those people who are disconnected from the internet are cut off from exercising a broad range of human rights, for example, access information, peacefully assemble to defend their human rights, and express opinions (9).
2030 is getting closer and together comes the deadline to achieve these goals. However, there is still much to do so the world can go in the right direction. Therefore, governments and also private companies must provide funds for investments in research, infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization.
How companies can promote industry innovation
Achieving SDG 9 will be a difficult process and a lot of players will need to take action in order to make substantial progress. Restructuring the education system to foster the creation of both ideas and projects; establishing standards that guarantee the sustainable management of projects and business initiatives, and facilitating the opening procedures for new companies will all be necessary processes (7).
Having all this in mind, it is time to present some smart practices that every company can implement to contribute to the achievement of this goal.
Finance projects that have the goal to build roads, schools, business
This initiative will help less developed areas to thrive, building infrastructure that allows innovation and technology progress. Companies can sponsor the building of an e-learning centre and/or fund a social enterprise (10).
Finance social entrepreneurs/non-profit organizations
Another way that companies can help to achieve SDG 9 is financing social entrepreneurs/non-profit organizations by giving coaching, mentoring, and service support as non-profit organizations also need a well-equipped team to keep running.
Like every other company, these organizations require accounting, finance, marketing, and other departments. Therefore, if your company can provide any of these services, you can provide a big impact by offering a pro-bono consultation to support their growth.
Invest in innovation and new technologies
As it takes time and effort to develop new technologies, investing in innovation will help to make progress affordable for everyone. In other words, your company will help to reduce the cost and make it possible for less developing countries to adopt (10).
Invest in research and development
Businesses can also invest in research, on their own or in partnership with Governments, contributing to develop and deploy products, services, and business models to deliver sustainable and resilient infrastructure (6).
Startups that are currently working towards industry innovation
Having explained the importance of achieving SDG 9, it is time now to provide examples of startups active in reaching this goal, that every entrepreneur can take inspiration from.
Marine Performance Systems
Marine Performance Systems is a Dutch startup offering an alternative to reduce ship’s friction when sailing as this is the most significant factor of fuel consumption.
The startup has a patent solution, FluidicAL, to reduce the friction between the hull and surrounding water. The fluidic generates hundreds of thousands of micro air bubbles per second per running meter, creating a layer of air underneath the ship’s hull.
Therefore, Marine Performance Systems is a sustainable company that contributes to decreasing the emission of GreenHouse gases.
Applied Autonomy is a Norwegian startup that develops solutions for sustainable autonomous transportations.
Using the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data it is possible to combine data from multiple sources such as connected vehicles and traffic data, paving the way for applicants in smart mobility ranging from geofencing and vehicle monitoring to on-demand trip management.
Therefore, Applied Autonomy contributes to the new solutions for safe implementation of autonomous transportation in public traffic together with the delivery of services for operations and implementation of pilots, tests, and demonstrations of autonomous vehicles.
Origen Air is a Canadian startup that offers commercial air purifiers for commercial buildings. The first solution, the Sentinel, incorporates plants that detoxify oxygen from the air, and an indoor air quality (IAQ) sensor that measures and monitors metrics within the space. Consequently, improving air quality for the health of people in the building.
On top of that, the company reduces the need for air conditioning (HVAC), heating, and ventilation as the Sentinel improves indoor air quality. Therefore, the company contributes to decreasing the energy consumption and as a result, the energy bill. In other words, Origin Air helps with innovative sustainable technologies to reduce the environmental footprint.
What can you do in your daily life to help achieve SDG 9?
It is also important to remember that not only the government and companies can help to achieve SDG 9. Everyone can do something to support the achievement of this goal. From small to big actions, GründerAteleeir presents some examples you can implement in your routine.
- Support a charity that invests in achieving goal 9. A big or small donation can make a difference. Get yourself involved (2).
- You can create a map of public spaces with free WiFi access and share it with your neighbourhood. Therefore, you can help more people access the internet (2).
- When it is possible, choose sustainable products. Every day, we are exposed to different products, therefore, in order to contribute to the preservation of natural resources, choose products that use renewable resources in their production.
- Make donations, it does not matter if it is a small amount, to research institutes. Enhancing scientific research will contribute to the upgrade of the technological capabilities of industrial sectors. In addition, it will encourage innovation and increase the number of research and development workers (1).
GründerAtelier’s Impact Accelerator
This was the sixth article of our SDGs series, which aims to make the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals easy to put into practice for startups and entrepreneurs, in general.
If you are in charge or work for an impact-related startup that supports one or multiple SDGs you can apply to our Impact Accelerator where we will guide you through the journey to become investment-ready and, then, introduce you to our VC partners.
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(10) A QUICK GUIDE FOR BUSINESS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. (n.d.). Retrieved from B1G1 website: https://b1g1.com/sustainable-development-goals-guide?gclid=CjwKCAjwybyJBhBwEiwAvz4G72UwrGHm49kDP9rKO4X6w0j7dA4TAfjwzKS53UN0_oHyGjW44CMZMBoCP-sQAvD_BwE#Industry-Innovation. Accessed on 02/09/21.
(4) Bath, S. (2018). Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation: Why SDG 9 matters and how we can achieve it. International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from https://www.iisd.org/articles/infrastructure-industrialization-and-innovation-why-sdg-9-matters-and-how-we-can-achieve-it. Accessed on 02/09/21.
(12) Discover 5 Top Startups advancing Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure. (n.d.). Retrieved from StartUs Insights website: https://www.startus-insights.com/innovators-guide/discover-5-top-startups-advancing-industry-innovation-infrastructure/. Accessed on 09/09/21.
(1) Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. (n.d.). United Nations. Retrieved from https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal9. Accessed on 03/09/21.
(5) Goal 9. Build Resilient Infrastructure, Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization, and Foster Innovation. (n.d.). https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/infrastructure-industrialization/. Accessed on 03/09/21.
(2) Industry, innovation and infrastructure. (n.d.). https://doi.org/10.18356/9789210056083c013. Accessed on 03/09/21.
(8) Kemp, S. (2021). 6 in 10 People Around The World Now Use The Internet. Datareportal. Retrieved from https://datareportal.com/reports/6-in-10-people-around-the-world-now-use-the-internet#:~:text=More%20broadly%2C%20our%20analysis%20shows,people%20living%20in%20developing%20economies. Accessed on 02/09/21.
(3) Mahadi, E. (n.d.). Challenges of addressing SDG 9 while also limiting climate change to 1 . 5 ° C Read about. UCL INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE RESOURCESHome. Retrieved from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/sustainable/challenges-addressing-sdg-9-while-also-limiting-climate-change-15degc. Accessed on 02/09/21.
(9) O’Brien, L., Micek, P., Berenger, C., & Null, E. (2020). More than 3.5 billion left in the dark: Why we’re still fighting to reach U.N. targets for internet access. Retrieved from https://www.accessnow.org/internet-access/. Accessed on 02/09/21.
(11) SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. (n.d.). SDG Compass. https://sdgcompass.org/sdgs/sdg-9/. Accessed on 03/09/21.
(7) SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. (n.d.). Retrieved from Iberdrola website: https://www.iberdrola.com/sustainability/committed-sustainable-development-goals/sdg-9-industry-innovation-and-infrastructure. Accessed on 03/09/21.