There are three lessons we can learn by comparing and contrasting these two innovation programmes, and looking for further examples from across the world.
First of all, we must learn to start from scratch, which is coming easier to Bangladesh than the USA. Economic cycles happen for a reason; because our thinking needs to evolve to deal better with the context. Some technologies and institutions need to fail for the new to come through. The British (and Bangladeshi) energy industry is starting to show the truth of this as well.
Secondly, we must put financial value in its proper place, as a servant to the generation of real value. True innovation has never, and will never come from an obsession with financial value; indeed, the spreading trend for Gillette Innovation in the developed world shows this to be the case.
Finally, we must learn to distinguish needs from wants, and focus our energy on satisfying these. The work of Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef is extremely helpful in this, and help us understand that there remains a huge innovation gap in the ‘developed’ world.
If we follow these three rules, all innovation will naturally follow to deliver a low carbon economy; if we do not, a true low carbon economy is an impossibility. And it is the responsibility of business to lead us there.