2 min

Digital and Ecological? Why Not?

A Report on the i2s Future Lab of the St. Pölten UAS’ Institute for Innovation Systems

Digital and Ecological? Why Not?

The Institute for Innovation Systems of the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, which was founded last year, celebrated its opening with the first i2s Future Lab. Business experts came together at the St. Pölten UAS to discuss the connections between digitalisation and ecologisation.

Complex Challenges in an Interwoven System

Under the headline “Digitalisierung und Ökologisierung – Widerspruch oder Notwendigkeit?“ (digitalisation and ecologisation – contradiction or necessity?), the participants of the event looked into the future: How can we use innovations to reduce our carbon footprint? What is the role of digitalisation in this context? And how can we manage the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient, and competitive economy and a resilient society?

“Our society is facing complex challenges that we can only tackle together. Disruptions caused by new technologies, climate change, and cultural and geopolitical transformations have to be viewed and understood in the context of their systemic interrelationship”, says Susanne Roiser, Head of the Institute for Innovation Systems of the St. Pölten UAS.

Digitalisation Is Not an End in Itself

Nicole Unger, Life Cycle Assessment Specialist at Mondi, emphasised in the discussion panel that digitalisation and the information it provides are important elements of sustainability – but not an end in themselves. According to her, digitalisation has to be target-oriented and the context in which information is (or should be) used has to be clear. An indicator without context is worthless.

In the opinion of Thomas Salzer, President of the Federation of Austrian Industries for Lower Austria and CEO of SALZERGRUPPE, sustainability is a social responsibility for industrial companies as well. Companies need to ask themselves how to deal with the unstoppable consequences of climate change that can already be felt today – with the objective of maintaining our prosperity.

Technologies for People

Gabriele Faber-Wiener, CSR and communications expert and founder of the Center for Responsible Management, warned that technology should be for the benefit of the people and not the other way around. Technology should lead to more humanity – not less – and we should not lose sight of this principle. In other words, sustainability and digitalisation ought to form a symbiotic relationship that is mutually enriching.

Andreas Tschas, CEO and co-founder of the climate protection community Glacier, shared his belief that climate protection has to become part of every company’s DNA, as it is no longer enough for a couple of people in a company to deal with the issue. By now, climate protection affects every division of every company, from product development through human resources to sales and finances. This is why every division should have a measure of competence when it comes to climate protection.

Hand in Hand for Reporting

Frederick Busch, Project Manager for Sustainability Reporting at nexxar, considers these to be the most exciting times in corporate reporting. nexxar works with the biggest companies in Europe and Busch sees the constant change and pressure to transform caused by digitalisation, new regulations, and changed stakeholder interests. According to him, digitalisation and ecologisation can only go hand in hand when it comes to the future of reporting.

i2s Future Lab

The i2s Future Lab was the first event of this kind for the St. Pölten UAS’ Institute for Innovation Systems which is planning to repeat this regularly in the future. The next event, to be held in the autumn 2022, will probably address Social Innovation.

“Our i2s Future Lab is a network and discussion platform for experts and opinion leaders at the interface of ecologisation and digitalisation”, says Tassilo Pellegrini, who also heads the Institute for Innovation Systems at the St. Pölten UAS.

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Mag. Dr. Roiser Susanne, MA

Mag. Dr. Susanne Roiser, MA

Deputy Chairperson of the University of Applied Sciences Board Head of Department Member University Leadership Head of Research Institute
Institute for Innovation Systems
Department of Digital Business and Innovation
FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Pellegrini Tassilo

FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Tassilo Pellegrini

Head of Research Institute
Institute for Innovation Systems
Department of Digital Business and Innovation