National Event on Building Sustainable SMEs in the Engineering Sector in France 

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Nurturing Responsible Finance, Brand Image, Network Collaboration, and Cultural Alignment 

By Elma Demir, Researcher and Business Development Manager, IMT-BS 

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the driving force of many economies, particularly in the technology sector. While SMEs are often associated with innovation and job creation, the environmental impact of these businesses is often overlooked. As the technology sector continues to grow, sustainable practices must be implemented to ensure the continued success of the industry.

To foster mutual knowledge exchange on the subject matters between experts, SMEs and students in the Essonne region, the Institut Mines-Télécom Business School (IMT-BS) organized a national hybrid event on May 25th 2023 consisting of a series of workshops and expert talks.

Clusters in engineering are one way of achieving sustainability in the technology sector. These clusters refer to groups of companies that are geographically close together and share resources and expertise. By working together, these companies can reduce their environmental impact and foster innovation.

While certain practices such as using renewable energy sources and sustainable materials, have been seen at the forefront of environmental change in the technology sector, the social aspects of the sustainability transition are often neglected.

The event revolved around the theme of sustainable organisations which prioritize environmental, social and economic sustainability in their operations and decision-making processes. Experts highlighted that in addition to their goal of operating in a socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound manner, sustainable organisations also strive to build long-term relationships with their stakeholders and contribute positively to the communities in which they operate.

The event aimed primarily to shed light on four pillars of sustainable organisations: responsible finance, sustainable brand image, the creation of a strong network and collaboration, and aligning organizational objectives with culture.

The lineup of experts and practitioners brought together knowledge and experience in their respective fields.

Hubert Saint Olive, independent consultant at the Hadvise and Lecturer at the IMTBS & the Parsons School of Design presented on how responsible finance practices can be integrated into the core operations of businesses, ensuring economic growth while preserving environmental integrity and social well-being.

Marion-Emi Alix,  Sustainable Accelerator Manager at the Accélérateur ESS and lecturer – at the HEC talked about business clusters and collaboration and provided suggestions on how to create robust networks and collaboration, which play a pivotal role in building sustainable organisations. By forging strategic partnerships, organisations can leverage collective strengths and resources to address complex challenges and drive systemic change.

Capucine Epagneau, co-founder and CEO of company Petit Côté, shared how aligning goals and culture can foster business sustainability. It is through the fusion of values, purpose, and employee engagement that organisations can embed sustainability deeply within their DNA. By fostering a culture of sustainability, empowering employees to contribute to sustainable initiatives, and aligning individual and collective goals with the broader mission, companies can develop into sustainable organisations.

Julien Héron, CEO of Ab Initio talked about the significance of cultivating a sustainable brand image—one that resonates with the values of conscious consumers, strengthens reputation, and contributes to the overall well-being of communities. He delved into the strategies and communication tools that can enhance brand perception and loyalty, while simultaneously driving positive environmental and social impact.

This webinar is structured in such a way that each expert will present for about 15 to 20 minutes, and after the presentations of our experts, we will provide space for questions from participants, as well as share your own experiences and perspectives. Together, let us discover innovative ways to build sustainable organisations that not only thrive in the present but also pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future.

The event was organized in the scope of the SME Cluster Growth project co-funded by Erasmus+. The project is implemented through collaborative efforts of the University of Malaga (Spain), Crazy Town Oy (Finland), University of Alcala (Spain), University Industry Innovation Network (the Netherlands), University of Bologna (Italy), Istanbul Technical University (Turkey), Momentum (Ireland), Cork Institute of Technology (Ireland) and Institut Mines-Télécom Business School (France).

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