Monocle and Lombard Odier - Rethink Sustainability


By 2050 the global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion, which means that we need to rethink how we’re treating and distributing our resources. Food and water scarcities are already a reality in many parts of the world; in future it will become essential for countries to produce, recycle and distribute these resources in innovative ways.

In order for everyone to have access to food, clean water and education, businesses have to think up smart ways of educating the masses, of being sustainable and promoting the re-use of resources to combat waste and pollution. Lombard Odier and Monocle explore how businesses are revolutionising the way that we deal with resource shortages in a three-part series: education, food and water.

The first part looks at ed-tech, which is starting to make education more accessible through mobile-learning platforms and personalised online services.

Case study 01 - Bulbee - Switzerland

Journalism, literature and pedagogy graduate Dina Mottiez had been teaching French literature for six years in Geneva when she had the idea for tutoring app Bulbee in 2016. “I recognised that the need for easy tutoring was important but couldn’t find any services to support it,” she says. “My second observation was that all my students had smartphones so it was easy to imagine a solution that would fit right into their hands.”

Monocle1_Article-B.jpgA year later the app has grabbed the attention of 100 users within weeks of its release. For a three-month subscription fee of CHF21, tutors and tutees can register and arrange as many sessions as they wish. Students can also select tutors based on teaching methods, as well as cost. All members are currently based in Geneva but the company is looking to expand and include schools across the country. That’s thanks to funding from Lausanne Innovation Hub, the EPFL university’s education incubator.

Mottiez is strict when it comes to sign-up conditions: aspiring tutors must pass a pedagogic survey and possess a clean police record. Potential tutors are also vetted via a questionnaire and are subject to a rating system. “There is a system of moderation in place as well,” says Mottiez. “It’s important that each tutor is evaluated after each session.”

Case study 02 - Labster - Denmark

Some universities are equipped with vast laboratories and handsome budgets, or are blessed with natural settings that make for excellent training grounds for their budding scientists. For all others scholars, Danish company Labster has created a technological resource that can broaden their reach wherever they are in the world. Using VR headsets programmed to replicate lab conditions, it has been developing accurate interactive simulations for students in a variety of different scientific disciplines since its launch in 2013.

Whether they be trialling a viral-gene therapy or heading out on a boat to gather fish for a marine biology study, or even investigating the scene of a crime as part of a forensics course, students are able to gain experience with tools that they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have been able to lay their hands on. And, crucially, they can make mistakes worry-free.

More than 150 institutions across the world, from the University of Copenhagen to the University of Hong Kong, have already adopted Labster’s technology. They have incorporated its courses into their curriculum, in the process making a saving and improving their students’ education at the same time.


Case study 03 - Primo Toys - UK

Everything fell into place for Filippo Yacob when he found out that he was going to be a father. “I wanted to create educational toys that reflect the world my son would grow up in,” says the entrepreneurial designer, who established Primo Toys to address the shortage of gender-neutral ed-tech toys. “Education hadn’t moved much in the past 50 years. Robotics, genomics, cyber security, big data and codified financial services are the trillion-dollar industries of the future. I saw we needed new literacies to make our children future-proof.”

Primo Toys’ answer was the Cubetto Playset, an award-winning wooden robot designed to teach children how to code with traditional means and no screens. In 2016 Cubetto became the most crowd-funded ed-tech invention and today it’s sold in 100 countries around the world.

“We know we’ve introduced more than a million children to computer programming through Cubetto and want to see a billion introduced to it in the next couple of years,” says Yacob, whose company has facilities in the UK, Netherlands, Japan, China and the US. “We feel like we’re in the right place at the right time to have a big impact not just on children’s lives but also on the industry.”

Q&A - EdX - USA

Launched in 2012 by Harvard and MIT with a mission to democratise education, EdX now provides free access to online courses from more than 130 venerable universities and institutions around the world. Headed by MIT professor Anant Agarwal, EdX has more than 1,600 courses and nearly 13 million pupils.

How is EdX making education more accessible?

We see online courses as a great democratiser and believe that in the future, economics, social status, gender and geography will not determine a student’s access to education. We envision a continuous education system: one that doesn’t stop after college.

Which courses are in demand?

Students told us that they were looking for knowledge that would be relevant for a career and practical outcomes. That’s why we developed a series of MicroMasters programmes to provide learners with an opportunity to go down a path of advanced study that is endorsed by corporations, or comes from the corporations themselves. For example, EdX offers three Professional Certificate programmes from Microsoft.

How can this change education around the world?

Modern-day education is often inflexible, inaccessible and unaffordable. Technology can offer a solution to some of these challenges.

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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