Elisa is looking for teams on Ajujaht who create sustainable innovation.
Twenty promising teams have embarked on the Ajujaht accelerator journey, and from here on, they need to carefully define and align their goals. Aigi Kukk, the Head of Sustainability at Elisa, shares what the program sponsor Elisa particularly values in teams this year.
Elisa has articulated its mission as creating a sustainable future through digitalization. Therefore, in its long-standing partnership with Ajujaht this time, Elisa has decided to closely monitor each team individually and assess their activities through the lens of sustainability. In the rapidly changing world of startups, having significant growth potential is no longer sufficient because customers, investors, and society expect startups to take responsibility for the environment and social impact.
Understanding sustainability usually has two options: related activities tend to appear overwhelming or, conversely, only “green” environmental topics are discussed. However, sustainability is not just about environmental conservation. Sustainability means that a company must be able to preserve environmental and societal resources through its activities while ensuring its long-term economic sustainability. The United Nations has defined 17 different sustainable development goals, and Estonia has even identified 18, providing valuable guidance for all sustainability considerations. Elisa has chosen three of these topics to contribute to society: cybersecurity, preserving Estonian culture, and environmentally conscious consumption.
Aigi Kukk, Head of Sustainability at Elisa
A holistic approach to sustainability
Sustainability is not a narrow subject that can be looked at in isolation. On the contrary, sustainability accompanies every decision and choice we make. When developing technologies, we must think about cybersecurity. When developing production, we must remember energy consumption. When developing services, we must pay attention to the broader cultural background of societies. Fortunately, development is not linear but goes through various layers of innovation and several future perspectives. Startups that adhere to sustainability principles can gain several advantages that help them develop and grow, potentially becoming a competitive edge in the future. Therefore, startups should follow sustainability principles from day one.
Ajujaht has seen a trend for several seasons where entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly sustainable. More and more ideas that help solve societal problems are entering the competition. For example, this season, as well as in previous seasons, there are several circular economy companies in Ajujaht that use materials already in circulation (metal, plastic, textile waste, etc.) as their raw materials. It is important for us to see and hear how teams in the accelerator approach the circular economy, whether a sustainable business model is found, and how their products and services are seen through the lens of sustainability.
Entrepreneurs are much more aware of societal and environmental challenges and investors also choose to invest in future-oriented companies. This creates a favorable environment where sustainable innovation and business models can become the standard.
We make sustainable innovation
Collecting new ideas on sustainability topics, bouncing fresh ideas off each other, and validating team ideas are particularly focused on Elisa this season.
When innovating, we must map the possible impact of activities in the future and find the optimal way to develop products and services sustainably. It is precisely forward-thinking and solving societal problems that we value in teams this year.
This year, in Ajujaht, we aim to encourage teams to map possible sustainable solutions and be able to analyze their findings. Our role here is to be a mentor and partner. Elisa has long-standing experience in the Ajujaht process as a test client; our more than 120 different workgroups allow us to find mentors with various skills and competencies. All our employees are ready to provide proactive feedback.
Serving more than half of all Estonian households, we have a very good idea of the Estonian retail market as well. Considering that our main markets are telecommunications, IT solutions, and digital entertainment, there are certainly teams among the participants whose exciting journey we can support and find synergy with.