Achieving System-Wide Collaboration by Design

Organizers: Saskia van Bergen, Washington Department of Ecology; Robert Giraud, Principal Consultant, Chemours/University of Delaware; Amy Cannon, Executive Director, Beyond Benign; Laura M. Reyes, Paul Thornton

Large-scale collaborative projects have the potential to leverage multi-company/multi-institutional resources to address sustainability challenges. However, the potential of such collaborations remains largely unrealized as it is difficult to establish new relationships and appropriate models that allow different groups to work together effectively. Implementing system-wide changes across industries and in society will require prolonged cooperation between multiple partners and diverse stakeholders, but to date these large-scale collaborative efforts are rare. Even smaller-scale collaborations such as academics aiming to partner with external organizations or an industry to advance the applicability of their innovations face obstacles to building a mutually beneficial project. This session will focus on how large interdisciplinary and/or cross-sector collaborative projects in green chemistry can be conceived, organized, and brought to fruition with results that can have lasting system-wide impact.

There are several key questions we aim to address: First, what are the challenges to a great collaborative project with multiple stakeholders, and how can they be overcome? Secondly, what components of a project are essential to the success of a collaboration? Finally, what other types of collaborations are necessary to help solve multidimensional sustainability and green chemistry challenges?

Diving deeper into the diversity of collaborative efforts, we invite submissions from anyone who has had first-hand experience participating in a large collaboration, either across scientific disciplines (e.g., chemistry, engineering, toxicology), and/or across sectors (e.g., industry, academia, government). The session will benefit from a diversity of perspectives. Speakers may include coordinators or organizers of multi-stakeholder collaborative projects, as well as individual scientists or contributors to such collaborations. Designated projects or challenges that seek to address an industry need (“technology pull”) will be explored, as will those efforts where innovators actively search for specific market fits for their technologies (“technology push”). The session will provide examples and engage participants in the discussion of how better collaborations can be identified, fostered, and achieved. Sharing the perspectives and lessons from this symposium will help accelerate implementation of systemic changes in sustainability by jump-starting the collaborations  needed to advance the widespread practice of green chemistry and engineering across various systems.