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Invest in the Next Generation of Innovators

The Young SDG Innovators Programme (YSIP) activates future business leaders and changemakers and challenges them to rethink traditional business models and unlock new business opportunities.YSIP is an SDG business solutions accelerator programme for young professionals in participating Global Compact companies. Teams of young professionals, called Innovators, work together under the guidance of mentors and facilitators, to identify opportunities and develop solutions that are relevant to their companies but have broader application towards innovation for the SDGs. The 10-month programme includes a mix of in-person activities, such as training workshops, live case studies, group exercises and challenges, as well as self-guided online learning.

Programme Benefits

The Young SDG Innovators Programme is designed to engage your company’s brightest and best talent in not only advancing your sustainability efforts but driving innovation and delivering tangible solutions with potential market value for your company.

  • Accelerate integration of the SDGs into your company’s business strategy through collaboration, innovation, and knowledge sharing.
  • Create a culture of innovation to address the SDGs and showcase the programme’s tangible outputs and results.
  • Increase employee engagement and professional development opportunities for valued talent, including:
  • High-quality, cutting-edge and inspirational workshops from thought-leaders in the sustainability and disruptive technology fields.
  • Opportunities to provide mentorship and leadership in the programme, collaborate with innovation experts, and share best practices.
  • Tools, resources, and expertise by some of the leading innovative companies.
  • Gain global recognition for participation in the programme

Who Should Attend
As a participating company of the UN Global Compact and Global Compact Network UK, your company is eligible to nominate up to three high-performing young professionals for this inaugural programme. This programme is designed to target high-performing employees at companies participating in the UN Global Compact, who are 35 years or younger and have an interest in business model innovation, sustainability, and disruptive technologies.

The Curriculum
A comprehensive curriculum with a blend of learning opportunities, including online and in-person workshops, team exercises, case studies, company visits and forum discussions. During this ten-month accelerator programme, Innovators will:

  • Collaborate with thought leaders in a series of team exercises and interactive learning opportunities involving real-world challenges, peer feedback and sparring, and mentoring and coaching.
  • Connect to entrepreneurial young professionals from around the world to leverage the Sustainable Development Goals as a catalyst for the development of new products and services relevant to their business.
  • Build organisational learning skills that will enable employees across different functions to develop innovative solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through new technologies, initiatives and business models.
Stressful people waiting for the job interview

Complete a series of online learning modules and print materials to explore and better understand the core concepts around business and the Sustainable Development Goals and Breakthrough Innovation to build a solid foundational knowledge before you start the programme.

In this section, Innovators will:

  • Complete self-directed assignments on the SDGs and Breakthrough Innovation using a mix of online and video materials
  • Gain a better understanding of what are the SDGs and how they relate to business
  • Learn key terminology around the SDGs
  • Be introduced to Breakthrough Innovation and how it aligns to the SDGs

Participants should set aside 2-3 hours in total to complete this work during the four weeks of onboarding.

Test out innovation tools to learn how to frame and identify your SDG business challenge. Through different activities, Innovators will gain the necessary tools and inputs they will need to understand and frame a specific challenge that is relevant to their company.

In this phase, Innovators will:

  • Be introduced to new tools like the SDG Compass, SDG Goal Finder and SDG Problem Exploration Problem Set to understand how to map out and prioritize their company’s SDG impacts across its value chain
  • Access video case studies on how leading innovation thinkers are applying a breakthrough mindset to solve the world’s most pressing challenges
  • Learn how to identify and frame your company’s business challenge that are tied to ambitious SDGs
  • Apply design thinking methodologies to the SDGs
  • Practice Breakthrough Innovation to identify SDG business opportunities for the company
  • Meet their Team mentors that will guide them on the innovation journey throughout the programme

Participants are required to attend one (1) two-day Innovation camp in addition to committing 1-2 hours of group work or self-guided learning per week over the six-week period for this phase.

Utilize design thinking ideation methods to refine and validate your specific SDG business challenge pertinent to your company that will form the basis of a breakthrough business solution.

During this phase, Innovators will:

  • Test out structured methods and tools that can be used for the process of refining and defining their SDG business challenge
  • Explore key characteristics of sustainable business models that can be applied to breakthrough innovation
  • Take part in live case studies of companies employing breakthrough business models
  • Access video case studies on how specific business models are driving the next generation of sustainable business and responding to the SDGs
  • Engage in peer coaching groups to communicate their challenges to other Innovators and receive feedback and guidance
  • Meet with their Team Champion to validate their SDG business challenge

Participants are required to attend one (1) two-day Innovation camp in addition to committing 1-2 hours of group work or self-guided learning per week over the eight-week period for this phase.

Solutions Development (8 Weeks) - TRANSLATE YOUR IDEAS INTO ACTION
Let your creativity take over. Devise potential solutions that will effectively address your company’s SDG business challenge, going through constant iteration and experimentation, to generate new ideas and test them for viability.

During this phase, Innovators will:

  • Learn how to design a solution to address the SDGs and take the solution from idea to concept and into a fully defined project
  • Become acquainted with twelve (12) disruptive technologies identified as having the greatest potential impact on the SDGs
  • Work in teams to learn how to rapidly generate and assess new concepts and ideas through structured design thinking methods
  • Access video case examples of disruptive technologies and bringing about business breakthroughs on key sustainable development challenges
  • Learn the basics of pretotyping, or rapid prototyping, and methods to quickly test out and validate new ideas

Participants are required to attend one (1) two-day Innovation camp in addition to committing 1-2 hours of group work or self-guided learning per week over the eight-week period for this phase.

Solutions Testing & Validation (6 Weeks) - MEASURE YOUR SDG IMPACT
Move project solutions to more refined versions through testing and prototyping and understanding how to validate the solution for SDG impact within the company and with external stakeholders.

During this phase, Innovators will:

  • Be introduced to the prototyping process and skills they will need to develop effective prototypes for their solution
  • Understand the difference between pretotyping and prototying
  • Explore core concepts of impact assessment methodologies and an understanding of how to consider SDG impact of business actions
  • Take part in live case studies of development organizations leveraging technology and innovation to achieve their goals
  • Understand how to prepare the SDG business case for their solutions and how to practically communicate the impact of their solution as it relates to the SDGs
  • Meet with experts from civil society, UN and social enterprises on their SDG business solutions

Participants are required to attend one (1) two-day Innovation camp in addition to committing 1-2 hours of group work or self-guided learning per week over the six-week period for this phase.

Prepare on how you can take the learnings, skills and projects developed in the programme back into your organisations. Build the confidence and skills you will need after the programme concludes to continue with your solutions and become SDG change agents within your companies.

During this phase, Innovators will focus on:

  • How to identify which stakeholders within their company to prioritize in order to ensure that their solutions succeed
  • Skills and strategies to frame and communicate their ideas in compelling and authentic ways
  • frame their ideas to understand the right lens for different stakeholders they are making their case to pitch their solutions
  • Hear stories from other intrapreneurs and start-ups about how they manage resilience in the face of adversity when trying to make change within their organizations or systems where they operate
  • Be introduced to other programmes and platforms they can join as options for those interested in continuing with their intrapreneurship journey and wanting a permanent platform for support after they complete the Young SDG Innovators
  • Present their solutions to a multistakeholder panel of Experts

Participants are required to attend one (1) two-day Innovation camp in addition to committing 1-2 hours of group work or self-guided learning per week over the five-week period for this phase.

The Solutions Showcase is an optional event for Local Networks to organize and culminate the end of the programme and highlight the programme outcomes to participating companies as well as other organizations involved or interested in the programme. The Solutions Showcase is also an effective tool for Networks that plan to run another round of the programme to attract new companies to sign up and promote the impact of the programme.

During the Showcase, Innovators will have the opportunity to:

  • Showcase their work and outcomes from the programme
  • Share their reflections from the programme and lessons learned
  • Mix and Network with social enterprises, civil society organizations, UN, Government and Innovators from previous rounds
  • Learn more about and explore other companies and organizations that are mobilizing breakthrough solutions for the SDGs

Global Innovation Camps

Global Innovation Camps are optional in-person workshops that will allow participants to meet with their global Innovator peers through case study discussions, small group exercises and dynamic workshops. In addition to the in-country Innovation Camps and online learning, the Global Innovation Camps offer extra opportunities for those interested to deepen their sustainability skillset, broaden their knowledge of global sustainable business practices and collaborate with peers outside their country.

Programme Calendar
A consolidated full programme view including all activities. Topics, times and events are subject to change.

Onboarding Challenge Identification Challenge Definition Solutions Development Solutions Testing & Validation Offboarding
Business and the SDGs The Breakthrough Mindset Sustainable Business Models Disruptive Technologies SDG Impact Assessment Storytelling
Introduction to Breakthrough Innovation webinar (Hosted by John Elkington) Using SDGs as a Lens for Innovation Innovation Field Visit SDG Ideation Tools and Methods Prototyping SDG Solutions Identifying Key Stakeholders
Global Kickoff Workshop SDG Challenge Framing Challenge Presentations Rapid prototyping, or “Pretotyping” Innovation Field Visit Building Resilience
Networking Event


Challenge Lab: Identifying SDG Opportunities Communicating SDG Impact Solutions Presentations
Global innovation Camp Networking Event

Innovation Camps
The Innovation Camps are two-day in-person training and activity sessions which allow for the Innovators to practically apply the tools and training they receive towards the solution they are building for their company, as well as learn from and share with each other. By setting the exercises in team settings, Innovators are able to interact with different company teams allowing for an exchange of ideas without compromising their individual company projects.

Each Camp features a first day which starts off with an overview of the programme, team formation and training workshops around the phase theme that is run by a facilitator. The facilitator serves as the moderator in charge of ensuring the Innovation Camp program runs smoothly and the Innovators are fully engaged. They help teams navigate the innovation process during the programme as well as work through group dynamic issues.

Following the training, Innovators break into their teams for an exercise in which they get the opportunity to practically apply the lessons from the workshop and self-guided learning to real-life business challenges. Teams work independently; however, facilitators (and Mentors, if they are attending the camp) monitor and guide their progress and lead the feedback sessions.

Field Visits
During the second day, the Innovators take part in a field visit to see a company that is putting the SDGs at the heart of innovation. The visit is organised as a live case study. This is an organisational design approach in which the focus is on experiential learning. The participants do not just hear from the company on what they are doing but are taken through the process, providing them with an insider’s perspective into the company’s innovation work and allowing them to ask questions and apply their own solutions to the company’s challenges.

During the second half of the second day, the Innovators break up into their project teams to review insights and takeaways from the one and a half days and their different team experiences. During this time, they identify next steps in their challenge or solution definition phase and report back to the rest of the group. In later phases of the programme, this segment of the Camp opens up into opportunities for peer sparring sessions where project teams give and receive feedback from other teams on their progress as they update others on their project solutions.

Online and Offline Activities
Taking place in between the Innovation Camps are several online and offline activities that offer Innovators self-guided online learning opportunities, guidance to direct their team project development and global webinars and virtual meetings that will connect the teams to each other from across the different countries running the programme.

Online activities provide Innovators the space for further upskilling and knowledge-building related to SDG innovation, breakthrough innovation, and other key concepts. Innovators will receive access to the online platform where they will see a global space as well as their own country page where they can receive information about the latest updates for their local programme (dates for upcoming Innovation Camps, backgrounds on speakers, notes from previous meetings, etc.) as well as follow the online global curriculum. In addition to pre- and post-reads from workshops and webinars, the online platform plays the main role in connecting Innovators to other teams around the world. Global online meetups and feedback sessions will take place online to bring Innovator teams together to showcase the progress of their projects and provide input and share ideas. The online platform will also include optional online challenges that Innovators can choose to take on that would allow them to work with others outside of their Networks/countries.

The majority of the project development will take place online. Project teams are expected to meet outside of the Innovation Camps and online activities to work on building their solution. Given the programme is 10-months long, it is not expected that teams will have finished solutions by the end of the programme but rather the aim is for them to have a refined idea and suitable prototype that can be presented to senior management within their company that has been tested and validated by other stakeholders. That ready state of the solution is dependent on the team and their sponsor to determine during the Solution Development phase of the programme. Guidance and training is provided for teams on how to prepare for the presentation to senior management, which is considered a major deliverable of the programme. (Note: It is a key responsibility of the Champions to set up the meeting for the Innovator team and ensure that the right members of senior management attend the presentation.) A version of this presentation will also be made at the conclusion of the programme in the final camp and during the solutions showcase.

Programme Benefits

panoramic photo of a group of young entrepreneurs standing in a row . isolated on white
Participation Benefits:
  • Engage in accelerated learning opportunities that include online and in-person workshops, case studies, company visits and forum discussions
  • Connect with other business units and collaborate on innovative projects relative to the company and industry
  • Build work relationships through coaching, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking opportunities and learn from some of the brightest minds working on sustainability and innovation from around the world
  • Be part of a global network of leading young professionals from some of the top companies across every continent
Company Benefits:
  • Apply SDG innovation to solve real sustainability challenges within your organisation and industry
  • Integrate the SDGs into your company’s business strategy through collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing
  • Increase employee engagement and professional development opportunities
  • Develop an expert network of leading professionals from some of the top companies across the globe
  • Gain global recognition for participation in the programme

Eligibility Requirements

  • High-performing employees at a participating company of the UN Global Compact
  • 35 years or younger
  • Interest in business innovations, sustainability, and disruptive technologies


  • Call for nominations: April 2020 - August 2020
  • Program begins: September 2020
  • Program ends: June 2021


To offset the significant costs of delivering this programme, we will require participants to make financial contributions. The total costs are as follows:
£1500 for first 2 innovators
£750 for 3rd innovator
£500 for 4th innovator
£1000 for the first 2 innovators
£500 for 3rd innovator
£300 for 4th innovator

Companies interested in joining the programme can contact Cynthia Adebiyi - Yekinni (details below). Due to demand and limited spots in the programme, the UK Network will need to confirm company participation before approved companies are able to put forward programme participants. Once company interest has been registered, you will be contacted by the UK Network on next steps.

Cynthia Adebiyi-Yekinni
Global Goals Project Manager
Tel: +44 (0)7706440223
Email: cynthia.adebiyi-yekinni@unglobalcompact.org.uk

Q1: What is the Young SDG Innovators Programme?
A: The Young SDG Innovators Programme (YSIP) is an accelerator programme designed to engage young professionals working in companies that participate in the United Nations Global Compact.  The programme aims to equip them with skills to advance sustainability efforts, drive innovation, and deliver tangible sustainability solutions for your company.

Q2: What does the programme involve?
A: In the programme, young professional participants (“Innovators”) explore new innovations and learn from leading experts and sustainability leaders about how to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the development of breakthrough ideas, products, and business models. Using tools and training from the programme, the Innovators work in teams to identify an SDG-related challenge that is relevant to their company and, over the course of the programme, develop a solution to address that challenge. Please refer to the programme brochure.

Q3: What are the benefits of participating for companies?
A: The programme offers companies the opportunity to engage their top talent at the junior and middle manager level and develop a new generation of employees that think between the intersection of corporate sustainability and innovation. Companies also benefit from the development of real business solutions that have the potential to provide value for both the company and society.

Q4: How can my company ensure the protection of our intellectual property if we take part in the programme?
A: While the programme is designed to facilitate cross-pollination of knowledge, new skills and ideas across project teams, we recognise the importance for companies to safeguard proprietary information and ideas. As part of the application process, we require the Innovators and Mentors to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to cover any intellectual property being used or discussed as part of the programme.

Q5: Is there an extra cost for my company to participate?
A: As the programme is run in several different countries, your participating Local Network may require some fees such as fees related to sending additional young professionals to take part in the programme as well as programme activity costs, such as travel and incidentals, which are not covered through the programme.

To offset the significant costs of delivering this programme, we will require participants to make financial contributions. The total costs are as follows:
£1500 for first 2 innovators
£750 for 3rd innovator
£500 for 4th innovator
£1000 for the first 2 innovators
£500 for 3rd innovator
£300 for 4th innovator

Q6: Where does the programme take place?
A: The programme is currently being run by Global Compact Local Networks in the following countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and the UK.

Q7: My company is not based in a participating Network country. How can we take part in the programme?
A: Unfortunately as this is a country-level programme, only companies based in countries whose Global Compact Local Network is taking part can participate. However, non-eligible companies may be able to take part in the programme as Mentors or Experts. Please refer to the information brochure for more information or contact youngsdginnovators@unglobalcompact.org.

Q8: Can young professionals from subsidiaries of UN Global Compact participating companies take part in the programme?
A: As long as the parent company is a UN Global Compact participating company and the subsidiary is based in a country whose Global Compact Local Network is taking part, their young professionals are eligible to participate.

Q9: What is the commitment my company has to make to take part in the programme?
A: As a participating YSIP company, you commit to:

  • Select 2 – 4 Innovators to take part in the programme for the full duration of 10-months
  • Allow Innovators the time needed for full participation in the programme
  • Identify a Champion who will support the Innovator team internally within the company

Q10: What is the time commitment for Innovators?
A: Innovators are expected to attend five (5) in-person 2-day workshops throughout the course of 10 months in addition to spending approximately 2-3 hours per week on online learning and activities, and group project development.

Q11: What is the difference between Innovators, Champions, Mentors and Experts?
A: Innovators are the young professionals that form teams to take part in the program to develop viable SDG business solutions for their companies. Champions are senior-level executives within the same company as Innovators that ensure the teams have high-level support in their company and the SDG business solutions are aligned with the company’s strategic goals and objectives. Only companies in participating Networks can select Innovators for the program. Each Innovator team must have a designated Champion throughout the programme.

Mentors and Experts are individuals outside of the Innovators’ company with knowledge of technical and relevant subjects in the program, such as sustainability, innovation, product design and breakthrough technologies. Mentors are matched to Innovator teams to shepherd the team throughout the programme and provide guidance in their training and project development. Experts provide global technical advice and insight on particular issue areas or industries, when needed, to inform and support team solutions design and development.


Q12: Why is the programme only for young professionals?
A: The programme is designed to target employees that do not yet have senior management responsibilities and therefore have more time to dedicate to a 10-month development programme.

Q13: Why do you categorise young professionals as 35 and under?
A: There is no set definition for the age of a young professional. Young professionals can be categorised as working individuals anywhere between the ages of 21 to 40. The age of 35 was selected as the upper age limit for the programme given that many demographic and population statistical organisations recognise young adulthood at being between the ages of 18 and 34.

Q14: Is any company participating in the UN Global Compact eligible to take part in the programme?
A: All companies participating in the UN Global Compact are eligible to take part in the programme as long as they are based in a country whose Global Compact Local Network is participating.

Q15: How many young professionals can my company select for the programme?
A: Companies can select up to four (4) young professionals to participate in the programme per cycle.

Q16: What are the eligibility criteria for the Young SDG Innovators?
A: While there are no set requirements, the programme is designed to target employees aged 35 and under who have a passion for sustainability, creativity; and demonstrate strong teamwork skills. Employees from business innovation, Research and Development, marketing, logistics, procurement, customer experience/service and sustainability units are encouraged to participate.

Q17: Does the Global Compact have to approve the Young SDG Innovator candidates from my company before they are selected?
A: No, we encourage companies to choose individuals who best fit the Innovator profile to ensure diversity among the candidate pool in terms of business unit and background. Guidance is provided to companies as to desired qualifications for Innovators.

Q18: What kind of companies are encouraged to apply?
A: Companies from the 2019 Round were from all sectors. Because this is an innovation-focused program, we will favour companies that are involving departments such as Innovation, Research & Development, and Engineering. To encourage knowledge sharing, we want companies to recruit participants that are not involved in sustainability-related aspects of the company. Companies should use the Young SDG Innovators Programme as an opportunity to teach departments traditionally separate from sustainability about the SDGs.


Q19: How do I apply?
A: Companies interested in joining the programme can fill out the sign up form or connect directly to their participating Global Compact Local Network. Due to demand and limited spots in the programme, Local Networks will need to confirm company participation before approved companies are able to put forward programme participants.

Q20: When does the programme start?
A: November 2020 is when the on-boarding period for Innovators starts, where they are given time to better understand concepts on SDGs and breakthrough innovation before they start the in-person camps. This can be completed on their own time or delivered by the Global Compact Local Networks. The in-person programming for the programme will begin in January 2021, and run for 10-months until October 2021.

Q21: What is the duration of the programme?
A: The Young SDG Innovators Programme runs in annual cycles over the course of 10 months.

Q22: My company is not able to take part in the programme this year but would like to participate next year. Can we sign up now for the next round?
A: Programme applications are managed by Global Compact Local Networks which have the right to determine how and when to waitlist companies for future rounds of the programme.

Young SDG Innovators Programme