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Geoffrey S. Kinsey, US

Director of Photovoltaic Technologies Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE)

What does ‘Sustainable Entrepreneurship’ mean for you personally?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship means choosing to develop only those business ideas that can be sustained for generations. In contrast, unsustainable business ideas succeed only by drawing down the pool of resources (water, arable land, a stable climate) that the whole world’s economy needs to survive.

How deeply anchored is this mindset, in your view, in society, but most importantly of all in the heads of entrepreneurs?

The conditions under which entrepreneurs typically operate make consideration of sustainability difficult. Short-term survival often precludes long-term thinking. Entrepreneurship with a focus on sustainability is therefore that much more worthy of recognition.

You are a director of Photovoltaic Technologies at CSE; what role, in your view, does The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) play in driving forward Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

The mission of Fraunhofer CSE is to support the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies. To these ends, we often work with entrepreneurs to help bring their ideas into commercial readiness. The CSE TechBridge program also works closely with investor and industry partners to provide client companies with important sources of capital and channels to markets.

How do you view the role of U.S. and position in developing Sustainable Entrepreneurship further?

The U.S. continues to be a cradle for innovation in sustainable technologies and is increasingly becoming one of the leading markets for consumption of such technologies as well.

Every year, the SEA honours entrepreneurs for extraordinary projects which allow Sustainable Entrepreneurship to be implemented in practice. What convinced you to support this idea?

We’re often told that we have to choose between a prosperous economy today and a prosperous, sustainable economy that can last generations. Sustainable Entrepreneurship is the best way to show that this is a false choice.

And lastly, a personal question: Which is the most memorable SE project you've ever heard of - and why?

My current favorite is the Nest thermostat. I buy these for my friends and family. The designers took a most humble object – a household thermostat – and turned it into something people can enjoy interacting with and might even crave. They have thereby delivered a platform for tremendous savings in home energy consumption.