Episode 49 – Ryan Edwards of Naked Innovations

EpEp 49 Ryan Edwards - Naked Innovations

In this podcast, Catherine Weetman talks to Ryan Edwards. Ryan is Co-founder of Naked Innovations, an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial “co-creators, fresh-thinkers, disruptors, shakers and provocateurs” that create and connect agrifood ecosystems to re-align the planet, business and people.

Ryan is passionate about transforming and innovating the agrifood industry by developing successful businesses, communities and teams. His background includes over 15 years international leadership experience at Cargill as European Marketing & Innovation Leader and as Managing Director of allfoodexperts.

While working for Cargill, Ryan noticed how the quality of innovation was affected by the diversity of people’s backgrounds and thinking.

He tells us about some of the systemic issues that companies face in trying to innovate, and how in many large organisations, people end up working in silos. What’s more, they often focus on the innovation or the technology itself, rather than what the world – and their customer – actually needs.

Ryan explains how Naked Innovations combines human-centred design and circular design to work on solutions that understand the needs of people and our planet. Ryan talks us through a major project at the French food manufacturer Danone, where Naked Innovations brought a wide range of people together to co-create solutions, avoiding the restrictive thinking that can happen when teams operate in silos.

Ryan also tells us how, after working with over 200 startups over the last few years, it’s become clear that startups also fail because they’re too focused on the technology and following the latest trend. Naked Innovations is helping solve this through a program called Team Up, matching startup founders to people with specific business expertise, to build a solid foundation for the business.

Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer.  Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started.  Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world). Stay in touch for free insights and updates…

Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.

You can subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes, Google Podcasts, PlayerFM, Spotify, TuneIn, or search for “circular economy” in your favourite podcast app.  Stay in touch to get free insights and updates, direct to your inbox…

Links we mention in the episode:

About Ryan Edwards

Ryan Edwards is Co-founder of Naked Innovations, an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial “co-creators, fresh-thinkers, disruptors, shakers, provocateurs” that create and connect agrifood ecosystems to re-align the planet, business and people. They challenge the status quo in the agri-food industry by empowering diverse people and focusing on openness, curiosity and fresh thinking to drive impactful sustainable growth.

Ryan is passionate about transforming and innovating the agrifood industry by developing successful businesses, communities and teams.

Ryan has over 15 years international leadership experience at Cargill as European Marketing & Innovation Leader and as Managing Director of allfoodexperts, leading a global Open Innovation platform and community of 10,000+ food experts.

Interview Transcript

Provided by AI – add 3:25 mins for the finished episode

Catherine Weetman  00:00

Ryan Edwards is co founder of Naked Innovations, which he describes as an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial co creators, fresh thinkers, disruptors, shakers and provocateurs, who create and connect agrifood ecosystems to realign the planet, business and people. Ryan is passionate about transforming and innovating the agri food industry by developing successful businesses, communities and teams. His background includes over 15 years international leadership experience at Cargill, as European marketing and innovation leader and as managing director of allfoodexperts. Ryan, welcome to the circular economy podcast.

Ryan Edwards  00:42

Thank you. Happy to be here.

Catherine Weetman  00:44

Great to see you again. And where are you talking to us from today?

Ryan Edwards  00:49

I’m actually in Tenerife. I’ve been living in Barcelona the last 10 years. I’m British, but not a Spanish accent. But yeah, I decided to spend a few months in Tenerife, enjoying the bit of sunshine before going back to Barcelona.

Catherine Weetman  01:03

Good stuff. Well, sunshine Sounds Sounds good. Because I’m looking out at four or five inches of snow.

Ryan Edwards 

Yeah. I’m just I’m wearing flip flops most atomic.

Catherine Weetman  01:29

Complete contrast the good stuff. So Ryan, I’m curious to know more about your how your background in marketing, teaching English and then at Cargill, led to you wanting to make an impact on agrifood.

Ryan Edwards  01:43

Yeah, okay, that was quite a journey. And yeah, the teaching English was basically an opportunity to go to Thailand on what I thought would be a paid holiday. But But during my time, there are so many things in parts of Thailand, a lot of poverty, where you see all sorts of this is 15-17 years ago of plastics washing up on the beach, sand, things like that. And also the The other thing that I learned when I was over there, teaching English was the diversity of being in a big place like Bangkok, where I was based and bring together all these different international citizens. And so that began me already thinking about, okay, is internet I like this experience of being around people from all over the world. And but I also saw the impact of, you know, the Western diet, shall we say, you know, you saw everything McDonald’s cartons, Coca Cola bottles, or this sort of thing, and that was transforming their beaches, but also their citizens and how they’re, the parents would be seemed super healthy and slim. And the kids I was teaching already, actually, some of them were obese. So that was kind of made me start thinking about the food industry and how this is impacting people. So then I went into when I left Thailand, I went back to the UK, I joined a company called Cargill, which is one of the biggest agricultural food companies in the world. And, and and I basically went in there in marketing and innovation over over a 10 year period. And again, I was running a diverse department, across Europe, across 17 countries. And that diversity, show me all the different perspectives of people to solve common challenges. So that’s think that that was a real insight for me of bringing together different people and bringing their perspectives gave insights to drive to innovation. And, and I think what really got me interested in trying to tackle issues around sustainability in agri food was Cargill, as I said, one of the biggest food companies, but even they alone couldn’t change the complex supply chains that they that they are involved in, whether it’s soya beans coming out of the out of Brazil, and some of the destruction of the Amazon there, whether it was the the palm oil that was being harvested out of out of Borneo. And again, some of the the the forestation happens that I guess a lot of the audience are familiar with, and then wanting to make a change, but the difficulties with how complex supply chains are. And in my 10 years, they’re seeing that and being more confused about making a change, but also frustrated by how slow it was and how small a part I was playing in it, I think was driving me to try and find other ways of taking actions. This definitely built my interest in the area and my expertise in the area. But I was starting to feel like I need to make a more of an impact than I am.

Catherine Weetman  04:53

And it’s it’s quite disheartening in a way isn’t it to hear that even companies the size of Cargill struggled to make changes in their supply chain, presumably because of you know, the sheer complexity of it and the lack of transparency and kind of, you know, subcontracting that you don’t necessarily know about, and comparing that with, you know, SMEs, who don’t have any kind of power to their elbow to force their suppliers to give them information and don’t have the budgets to go out. And, you know, just visit suppliers, not that we can do that at the moment. But visit unannounced and make sure that things are happening the way that you have been told there

Ryan Edwards  05:38

is that a lot, a lot of it was so entrenched, you know, business that being the business very successful, very profitable, and had been running that way for over 100 years. I mean, the company is 150 years old, and having a lot of success. But it was becoming clearer, that more and more consumers were taking sustainability as a topic more seriously environmental sustainability and talking more and more about traceability, where does my food come from what’s really in it, we saw a few of those few food scandals, as well around in in horse meat in in Europe and the baby milk formulation in China. So it’s becoming not something that people are becoming more aware of. And I saw the journey there where it started very much being a CSR corporate social responsibility, angle of trying to find good stories. And over time, it became more central to business, we and there was a realisation of actually doing good. And creating traceable supply chains that we can prove are sustainable, can grow a margin, and this is this is a capitalist company. So it was about building profits. So when we started proving that we saw some more and more projects and innovation happening in the area, but even then it was a small percentage of what was happening overall. And it took a long time.

Catherine Weetman  07:02

And I think there’s there’s quite a few recent research studies, showing now that people expect businesses to be doing the right thing. It’s not that they’ve suddenly switched on to that. I think it’s that the stories are coming out. And people are shocked. You know, the same thing happened during the pandemic and the lockdown with companies cancelling contracts with overseas suppliers, particularly fashion companies. And their customers were shocked that you know, this, that this could happen. And it’s kind of you know, it’s sort of the scales have fallen from people’s eyes really about things that they’ve taken for granted that that they now realise they couldn’t have taken for granted and you know that brands aren’t necessarily to be to be trusted. And and brands are realising that and realising how easy it is to lose your reputation and how expensive it is to rebuild that, you know, been undermined.

Ryan Edwards  08:04

Exactly that Katherine and and I think it’s interesting the organisations like Cargill, we call them the ABCDs, right, the ADM, Bungi, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, who are kind of behind the scenes in supply chains. So a lot of the push for more sustainable transparent supply chains came from that were their customers like Unilever, Unilever is a great example. We worked very closely with them. And at the time, Paul Polman was the CEO. And, and he was not just talking, he was walking, he was taking the action, and he was pushing because the owners of supply chain are the Cargills and the other companies I mentioned. So he was very much reliant upon the actions of how does Cargill behave in that supply chain, and it was his push his drive, which forced us, I would say, to make a change and and he was willing to invest and say he realised that consumers weren’t really willing to pay more at this stage, we looked at fair trade. But the real behaviour, there was only a small percentage of consumers are buying fair trade. So we want to make sustainable supply chains. It was actually an investment by Unilever, because Cargill had to invest and Unilever be willing to pay a bit of extra money per tonne to secure sustainable supply chains. And but they were trying then not to pass on that cost and increase prices in their products. There’s actually an investment by them. But they’re their bet was that as you just said consumers would actually increase the market share for Unilever by moving to their products, they might not pay it so that the way they wanted to win was increased market share rather than case price and I think is a very smart move. That’s being proved out. Now. We’ve Unilever’s continued growth in these spaces and taking a real leadership. Yeah, but it’s been it’s been a long journey.

Catherine Weetman  09:49

Yeah, and I think you know, with companies the size of for Unilever and Cargill and so on, it’s it’s going to be a long journey, isn’t it but the impact that they can have on the the lessons learned And hopefully, you know, some of them will make their supply chain information, open sourced and allow other companies to know, which, you know, palm oil farmers or whatever are, are out to be trusted and aren’t deforesting to plant more crops and things like that. And so, Ryan, you said, when you when you talked about joining Cargill, and also your experience in Thailand, that you became really interested in using different perspectives and diversity to solve common challenges and drive innovation. And so can you can you unpack that a bit more for us because it sounds like that central? Or maybe you can, at the same time, tell us a bit more about what naked innovations does, because I guess all that ties together?

Ryan Edwards  10:51

It does. That’s been my journey, actually. And so there was a real discovery, I felt for myself in Cargill, that it’s a very supportive organisation, it has a great work environment, and you can, you can connect to people all over the world, who are experts within the company. And, and, and again, I saw all bringing together with all these different expertise around having and working in silos. So when I took over the innovation department, it was very much working in silos, and on pet projects, you know, trying to develop tech, whatever, and they won’t take it to market, it wasn’t understanding of what the demand actually was supply and demand were not connected. So we tried to re envision that and we use use something called design thinking or human centred design approach. And so let’s stop focusing on the technology solutions, let’s understand what the demand what the consumer what the end user wants. And on that journey, we realised, yeah, bringing in fresh perspectives of different stakeholders and understanding their needs was, was key. And we managed when I took over the innovation portfolio there, a typical project would take up to three years to work its way through before that either went to market or was finally killed, it should have either been stopped a lot earlier, are brought to market earlier and tested, and which is what we ended up doing. So we drove that down for less than a year. And we did less projects, but bigger, more impactful projects. And by and making sure that we attached that work to the user, what does our customers actually want from us? What are their customers or their consumers demanding and bringing light into that into that story. So really, then when I when I decided that it was time to leave Cargill, because I wanted to make a big impact my way if you like, rather than the constraints of being in a corporate and being able to work with other stakeholders of supply chain, I joined an organisation by led an organisation of startup called All Food Experts, which is open innovation platform. And we bring together 10,000 different food scientists, r&d people, technologists around the world to try and solve some of the big food challenges using this, this platform. And again, that was a massive learning of the power of diversity and fresh perspective to try and solve these these big challenges. But it was very much broad. It was some really technical challenges around stabilisers and a drink or changing the taste profile to reduce sugar reliance in another beverage. And again, I wanted to think bigger as like there’s some really big challenges out there about how to make food healthier for people and for planet. And now we’re seeing a disconnect that I was seeing that often, companies were trying to either make the food more nutritious if they could healthier or less bad, or they were trying to make it more sustainable through maybe better packaging or, or less destructive in the supply chains, but not the two together. And so about three and a half years ago, we created Naked Innovations, the leadership team from All Food Experts decided to to refocus on this healthy planet Healthy People aspect. And and we sort of took design thinking which is human centred design, as I said, and take circular design, also known as kind of plastic design, which is more recent, and actually put them together and say, You know what, we want to focus on projects that are understanding the needs of both planet and people. And because often if you’re designing for people, you’ll end up designing something in the food industry that is cheap, that tastes good, and is really convenient. And often those three things are not in alignment of what the planet’s needs are and the resources are. And if you design something just focus on the planet we found that often, the sustainability departments of companies will are very idealistic and the product they make often is not a hit on the supermarket shelves and they don’t get the money. share that you’d like them to have. So we really realised that there was a gap there. And that’s where we we’ve really focused. And what we do is we tried to always start with the challenge. So often our clients come to us and say, hey, we’ve got this really cool solution, this new technology that we want to take to market, can you help us? We always push them to say, let’s take a step back? Why are you building this technology? Why do you think there’s a solution needed, what’s really the challenge you’re trying to solve? And then we’ll explore the options when we understand what their challenges are. And then we bring together the right diverse stakeholders to try and solve it. So it’s much more likely to be successful and adopted in the market.

Catherine Weetman  15:40

Hmm. So can you give us a couple of examples of the kind of projects, you know, obviously not naming names, if they’re still under wraps, but give us a feel for the kind of things that you that you’ve been involved in?

Ryan Edwards  15:55

Yeah, the most recent one is I can I can mention the name as Danone, who are another fantastic company in terms of trying to be better for people and planet. They become a B Corp recently, which we love for us. We want to work with B corpse more and more. And hopefully your audience know about that. Or if they don’t, I encourage them to go and check out what a B Corp is. And so the known or here in Spain, they say Danone, the guys that make those amazing yoghurts and all those other cool things, and mostly dairy based are going through their own transformation. And so one of the things we did with them last year was we did something called a kind of long term hackathon, also known as a challenge lab. So we took one of their products, their biggest selling product, and the plain dairy yoghurt. And there’s lots and lots of alternative dairy products out there. Now, we said but we’re not looking alternative. We’re looking at the dairy again, how do you make the dairy more circular and, and looking at things like regenerative agriculture, and more holistic approach, better packaging. And so building consumer changing consumer behaviours around the the consumption of those yoghurts and how they how what they do with them afterwards, they add the packaging, and so on. So what we did was we created a we brought together 40 – I think it was 45 diverse stakeholders across that supply chain from Europe, brought them together for three weeks with, I think five Danone experts as well, who could validate the ideas who could, who could be a resource, a sounding board for these 45 people who are volunteers, right, people who are, who care about purpose and making an impact care about healthy planet healthy people. And the opportunity to work of an organisation like the known and unknown, were amazing, and just opening their doors and saying, These are the things we’ve researched. These are all the challenges we see. This is where we need help, very humble. And, and we basically created a programme a lot of fun, a lot of energetic online, of course, when we really deep dived into those challenges with the 45 people, we ended up creating 10 teams of people, but it wasn’t so much a competition, it was very much about them collaborating with one another. So we saw that in that three week period, some of those teams actually are merging and becoming one team. Because they sought their their ideas and their possible solutions were complimentary. So we took them on a journey of what we call this planet and people design methodology that we have, and where they really looked at all those challenges, decided where they wanted to focus did the research of the end user to known to target clients and created some prototypes, and at the end, and only selected three, I think it was of them, maybe it’s four, and of these teams and their projects to actually explore and take forward right now. So they’re now in the next stage where these these people are now these volunteers are now being put in front of the knowns senior global leadership team and put into some of the innovation programmes. This was done in collaboration with anonymous with one of our clients called eat it food as well. This whole challenge lab was kind of there. They’re the sponsors behind it. And so, yeah, this was one example of bring together as I said, very diverse stakeholders who are mission aligned on a specific challenge about making Danone’s plain dairy yoghurt, circular and approaching it from completely different perspectives that do not have never considered before. And to put in place three very strong proposals that are now working working on. So that’s there’s one example of what we do.

Catherine Weetman  19:53

Hmm, yeah, that sounds like a major project, trying to coordinate all of that. find, find Suitable volunteers. And, you know, kind of corral them towards solutions that fitted the brief.

Ryan Edwards  20:10

Yeah, just on that, just something to add. That was what we were most impressed with is these 45 people all have full time jobs. So when we designed the freebie programme, we had to do it after 7pm each day, and we were finding these, we were asking them to stay for an hour and a half, maybe. And often these people were joining us until 10pm, you know, and we said to them, You guys can leave now. But no, they would continue for another hour, there was a real spirit and passion. I mean, that’s really exciting for us, in your community, Catherine to, to know that there are great experts out there who are willing to dedicate their expertise and their time, if they’re given the opportunity on a real challenge like this. And and that’s really valuable for Danone, and they’re very forward thinking to realise that. And we’ve tried to work with some other organisations who have been more protective, and it’s not quite worked the same way. So it’s all about signing, NDA upfront, trying to own the ideas, and, and that less collaborative approach has not led to the same enthusiasm and the same results. Unfortunately,

Catherine Weetman  21:14

yeah, and as you said earlier on, you know, that diversity of, of backgrounds and views and so on is what can really drive and spark innovative ideas. Because I was in, in looking for something else. Yesterday, I noticed a blog on the World Economic Forum website about the importance of diversity, and you know, how it really improves the, you know, variety of thinking and challenging the status quo and so on within companies, and, you know, companies are realising that that groupthink is is not really going to get you anywhere, it’s just gonna carry on sending the supertanker in the same, same same direction

Ryan Edwards  21:58

as that. I’m just gonna share one of the quick example if that’s okay, because it’s happening right now. And it’s exactly what you just said. So with EIT food, European Institution of Innovation Technology for food, and they’ve done their research, and we’ve done our research and innovations, we’ve worked with over 200 startups and last couple of years. And it’s become clear that reasons why some startups fail is they’re too focused on the technology. They’re all trying to work in the same saturated place. So they will follow the latest trend, because they want to, you know, make money as fast as possible often, and, and often their co founder, the the person or people that start it are the owners of the technology. And and they end up putting themselves in the kind of CEO position. But and I’m generalising but what we’ve seen is often they don’t have the skill set to commercialise to take that idea into a real product that people want is what I was talking about before design thinking, and what we’ve created planet and people design of really understanding what’s needed and what people want and matching your tech to that. So what we’ve designed to that food right now, we’re building it, I’m really excited to say is there is a programme called team up, where what we’re doing is we’re starting Firstly, with the challenges and one of those big challenges around circular food systems and trying to sound what are the specific challenges in there, that that are less sexy, you know, maybe they don’t get a quick return, but they need focus. So we start there. And we start with co founder matching. So we find those great experts, technologists, really interesting scientists, r&d people, and match them on day one with great entrepreneurial types. So rather than the technologist typically already trying to develop a tech and and push into the market, we start by putting those two people together, or three people together and making an early stage match. So they can grow together. And the whole programme is focused on finding the right matches. So it starts with a solid foundation. And so it’s more of an investment at the start in terms of time and effort, so that they’ve got more chance of scaling in a sustainable way. And, and we’re really excited in this kind of what we call a venture builder. We think this is a really great way to to try to solve some of these big challenges we have, rather than just trying to create as many startups in the ecosystem as possible, let’s be much more thoughtful, and focused on how we do it.

Catherine Weetman  24:28

Yeah, and I think that’s, I think that’s bang on. And, you know, in one sense, it goes back to you probably read the book from years ago, the E myth book, that every business needs an entrepreneur, a technician and a manager. And he might have sort of net natural bent towards two of those roles. But, you know, they haven’t met anybody who fulfilled all three and the trick was to recognise what, what your preference was and make sure you were filling fill in the gaps

Ryan Edwards  24:58

Exactly, and doing it early.

Catherine Weetman  25:00

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of startups, particularly with the circular economy being, you know, new and a bit untested in the minds of funders and so on, startups may struggle to even get access to seed funding and things like that and have to bootstrap themselves. And having having that wider network and the different perspectives that they might not have within the company like that, you know, they might be entrepreneurial, but you know, not good at managing it, or they might might not see the value of marketing. And, you know, raising the profile is important to secure the funding and so on. And it’s kind of a trying to bring all the strands together.

Ryan Edwards  25:43

Exactly that collaborator approach. So knowing do we create found great co-founder matching in Team Up, but they’re all on the programme together. So they all get to learn from from other peers as well and go through this programme. So yeah, really excited about it. And this year is the first year we’re doing it.

Catherine Weetman  26:01

That’s good.

Ryan Edwards  26:01

Let’s see.

Catherine Weetman  26:02

So given your recent experience with Danone, and I don’t know too much about Danone, but you know, in terms of its its ethos in the past, but it’s great news, that it’s now a B Corp. And it’s in the challenges, but how do you think companies are starting to change mindsets, both within the company and with their shareholders and so on? How are they getting people to sign up for this longer term change? and focusing on people and planet not just on the next quarter’s results? and so on? what’s what’s the key to that?

Ryan Edwards  26:42

Yeah, that’s the big question and stakeholder value over shareholder value. It’s gradual, I believe that reflecting people reflecting on the human element on their own mortality, and that they have children, and that they want this planet to still be there for their children that they have the city leaders in these big corporations, they have the power to to do something about it and and trying to help them see that their responsibility’s not just as shareholders, but to to the wider stakeholder. I think there’s clearly a movement there. I think here in Europe, we should be proud, I think we are driving a lot of this movement towards focusing on stakeholder value, I think the EU is doing a great job for the new Green Deal, or trying to do a great job of showing leadership and in the Green Deal here, to put more emphasis and focus on on this space and educate around it as well and really invest the resources that are needed to drive this. And I think education is a big part of it. Yeah, I think the the other the other thing is interesting is is if we can, there’s a thing that I talked about, which is doing good is good business. So I come back to the Cargill days. And at first, when they started doing the CSR type activities. It was about storytelling and image. But quite quickly, there was a realisation that Wait a minute, if we make ourselves more efficient, you know, reduce water usage, reduce power usage, cuts out inefficiencies. We’re gonna save money, and have a great story to tell. So this is more profitable in the end, as well. And and so I feel like there’s a there was a whole drive there of Okay, this screen efficiencies can be more profitable and tell a great story. But as we talk about telling those stories, there was more there was a a groundswell from the end consumers, well, we want more of this, now that you’re sharing these stories, you’ve opened Pandora’s box, and there’s a realisation, there’s a need to do better. And so and I think we all know with the sharing of social media now and how quickly stories can can spread. And you mentioned earlier, you if one of these, and if something bad gets out, you know, Greenpeace gets onto you. It goes viral very quickly, and can damage your reputation. And and when we’re trying to remember damaged reputations, often the big brands and Nestle’s Unilever’s Coca Cola, they want to protect their brand. That’s their, that’s their value. So they’re putting pressure onto this, the supply chain players like the Cargills to do better in that space. So I feel like there’s a realisation in many areas, from regulatory from consumers, and from the corporates that Yeah, doing better. Is is good business.

Catherine Weetman  29:44

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s interesting. And I think, you know, the power of social media really does seem to have been the catalyst.

Ryan Edwards 

Definitely.

Catherine Weetman  30:29

So, Ryan, in terms of talking to people who are either looking to go more circular, and focus on planning and people design, as you’ve suggested, or even starting a new business or looking to go circular? What would be your top tip? What What should they have up front of mind? Yeah,

Ryan Edwards  30:52

I think my whole story has been about, you don’t need to do this alone. And there, there’s some great expertise out there. So it’s I think if you want to learn about or get involved in my suggestion is to reach out find expertise. And within because there’s many different stakeholders in this space that that we need to pull together and work on the common challenges together. So that we get shared ownership and shared action to apply the solutions. So yeah, go out there and find find the experts because they’re there and they’re more than willing to support

Catherine Weetman  32:02

cleared. So yeah, find find your own open source Innovation Network, both creatively. And

Ryan Edwards  32:09

yeah, exactly that

Catherine Weetman  32:11

which of your values, whether that’s from a personal or business perspective, do you think helps us move towards a better world, one that’s more sustainable and fairer?

Ryan Edwards  32:21

Yeah, the word that comes to mind I’ve used a few times is diversity. But really what I’m talking about there is empowerment. So and I believe we need to listen more effectively and actively to different voices, and empower those voices to to speak up and share their concerns and share their ideas. And, and we do that by making the people that sit around the table, ensure they’re more diverse, and all the different ways all different forms of diversity. And but not only for show, but really asking them the pertinent questions, and really listening to what how they answer and really then valuing those insights and doing something with it. And saying that I’ve believed my whole life, and I see the power of it when it comes to driving innovation. And if we’re going to design a better world, I think we can design we’ve designed the world we live in so it’s through design, that is healthy planet, healthy people who need to do it for the people by the people. So yeah, we need more diversity and to empower those people to share their their insights and their concerns.

Catherine Weetman  33:27

Hmm. Great. That’s, that’s really interesting. And I’m probably not something that would pop up in, in many values. Listen at that kind of level of, you know, it’s not just a word is it but it’s, you know, this, this is why and, and this is the difference that it can make to your to your business. And Ryan, who would you recommend as a future guests for the programme?

Ryan Edwards  33:51

Great question is, is there as a fault, there’s a lot of great people out there willing to share. And the first person that really comes to mind is he works at a known so I’ve mentioned before, and he’s really an activist there around circulars, there’s a Dutch gentleman called Merijn Dols, Merijn Dols. And and he’s really shaking them up inside. I think it’s great that a known are happy to have someone like that inside who Yeah, makes them think differently, gives a an expert and diverse perspective to them. So yeah, I think he speaks very eloquently and very strongly about this subject. And he’s an expert in this in this space around a circular food system. So I’d highly recommend Merijn.

Catherine Weetman  34:33

Great. Thank you. Thank you. And how can people get in touch and find out more about you and naked innovations?

Ryan Edwards  34:42

I mean, I’m on LinkedIn, and I’m on there often, so you can always find me there. But for the company, I would say go to our website, it’s Naked Innovations.eu. There’s also.uk, whichever way you want to go in, and you’ll find all the information about us there.

Catherine Weetman  34:59

Excellent. I’ll put those links in the show notes in case people don’t have a pen handy. So that’s it circulate economy. podcast.com. Great stuff. Well, Ryan, thank you very much for sharing those stories with us. And I’m going to be keeping an eye on what what the known are doing much more closely from from now on. It sounds like they’re doing some really interesting stuff around food and regenerative agriculture. And good luck with the current projects. They sound really interesting as well, and look forward to seeing what you and naked innovations are doing and disrupting in the future. Thank you.

Ryan Edwards 

Thank you. No, absolutely. The labs give one last plug to team up. If you are frustrated scientists or technologists and you want to commercialise something great in this space, and have a look for a team up on the same if you’re an entrepreneur that’s looking for a co founder, and that’s the place to go.

Catherine Weetman  

Okay. Right. I’ll put that in the show notes as well. grateful. Thanks, Ryan.

Ryan Edwards 

Thank you, Catherine. Cheers.

Want to find out more about the circular economy?

If you’d like to learn more about the circular economy and how it could help your business, why not listen to Episode 1, or read our guide: What is the Circular Economy

To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach.  It includes lots of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

Ep 55 Anthony Burns ACS

Episode 55 Anthony Burns – ACS

We meet Anthony Burns, Chief Operating Officer of ACS in Scotland. ACS started out as a formal-wear hire business, and is now an internationally recognised and award-winning circular fashion enterprise with clothes rental offerings for woman, men, children and babies. It is now working with a wide range of fashion brands, acting as their Circular Service Provider. We find out…
Ep 54 Louise Bijleveld LONO

Episode 54 Louise Bijleveld – LONO

Catherine Weetman talks to Louise Bijleveld, Co-Founder of LONO in Côte d’Ivoire. Lono helps agro-industrial companies and farmer cooperatives to create value from waste, by converting it into biofertilizers and biogas. Its overall aim is to help value reach rural areas and reduce the inequalities in agricultural supply chains. Côte d’Ivoire is an important global producer of cocoa beans, cashew…
Ep 53 Mick Payne – Techbuyer

Episode 53 Mick Payne – Techbuyer

Mick Payne is the Managing Director of Techbuyer’s UK operations. Techbuyer helps businesses maximise their IT budgets by supplying cost-effective new and quality refurbished servers, storage, memory and networking equipment, from over 150 brands including HPE, Dell, IBM and Cisco. Every year it configures over 3000 IT servers and data-erases over 10,000 hard drives each month.

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