Frontrunner Project

 

Initiative

 

In 2010, Jaap de Vries of DZyzzion started the first 'Frontrunner Project' on sustainable entrepreneurship. With such a project, municipalities and businesses work together and show that sustainable business is not only necessary but also inspiring and profitable. So it's good for people, planet and profit.

Currently more than 35 Frontrunner projects have been realized in a large number of municipalities. About 350 companies and other organizations have participated. Together the have made lots of practical steps towards future proof entrepreneurship.

There are lots of sustainable solutions available right now. But we have to recognize them and apply them. Let's DO it! This needs a shift of mindset. As soon as there are enough Fruntrunners with the right mindset, sustainable entrepreneurship will become the standard and the peloton will follow. That's the goal of the Frontrunner project.

Let entrepreneurs convince each other
How does it work?

 

The Frontrunner project is meant for companies and other organizations that are or want to be leaders in sustainable entrepreneurship. The project not only offers inspiration, but helps entrepreneurs to adopt a more structural approach of sustainability, through expert coaching and by learning a lot from each other.

The project has a systematic setup. After the kick-off meeting, where the participants get to know each other, we start with insight in the existing situation: what are we good at and what can be improved? The baseline measurement. The participating companies are thoroughly screened using the DuOn-Scan and the Envirometer. The outcomes show possible improvements and new business opportunities.

In the next step, we look ahead (vision): where to we want to stand within a few years and what are our ambitions? These will be translated in to a practical action plan (the DuOn-Agenda). The result is a continuous improvement cycle, by which the participants become ever more sustainable: climate neutral, circular, inclusive and more ....

In the last step, the participants learn to improve their communication about sustainable entrepreneurship: what is your story for your stakeholders?

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During the project, the participants meet several times in order to learn from each other. A Frontrunner project lasts about one year and is completed by means of a Frontrunner symposium. There, the Frontrunners present their outcomes and inspire other entrepreneurs. The participant who made the best home-work assignment will win the Frontrunner Award!

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Participants of the first group of the Frontrunnerproject in Assen, during the final Frontrunner symposium in theater De Nieuwe Kolk, on Juni 14, 2018. De Frontrunner award was given to UMCG Ambulance Services by aldermen Gea Smith. The theme of the symposium was sustainable mobility. The keynote was given by Auke Hoekstra of the University of Eindhoven. On the stage a chassis of the Tesla Model S. A news item about the symposium can be read here (in Dutch).

Benefits

 

The Frontrunner Project has a lot of benefits for the participants, such as:

 

  • a sound baseline measurement: What are we good at and how can we improve?

  • insight in the meaning of CSR for the organization, environmental performance, CO2-footprint

  • a new, fresh look at the organization

  • practical ideas for the improvement of the management, as well as the products and services

  • more conscious decisions with respect to procurement and investments

  • cost savings on energy, garbage disposal, mobility etc.

  • better communication about sustainability / CSR

  • more engagement of employees

  • positive publicity which often leads to new customers

  • expansion of the network and cooperation with other businesses in the region

  • saving time and money due to the expert coaching and practical tools provided

 

A growing network of sustainable entrepreneurs

 

This approach has proven to be very successful. The participating businesses and partners like municipalities, provinces and educational institutes are enthusiastic. All together, by now already some 350 companies have participated. As a result, the network of entrepreneurs with a sustainable mindset keeps growing, thereby contributing to a healthier and more sustainable regional economy.

Some quotes by participants:

“The Frontrunner project is one of the few projects that really trigger SME companies about sustainability. For me it is fun to collaborate”

Jan Gropstra

"For the Province of Friesland, as regional government, the Frontrunner Project is a great way to involve SME's in our efforts to build a more sustainable regional economy. The participants are very enthusiastic and so are the municipalities involved. We now plan to scale up the experience to other policy areas"

Tjitske Jeltema

“Through the Frontrunner Project, Fritech became really enthusiastic. As an SR-coordinator I will take care of the further implementation of sustainability within our company.”

Naiyara van der Veen

“The Frontrunner Project works, because we really learn from each other. Several times per year we meet and share our outcomes. Then you realise that in some areas you're doing quite well, whereas in other fields you have to improve your performance. In a Frontrunner group people also stimulate each other. I would really advise other companies to join as well. You don't necessarily have to think very big: savings and positive changes often come by small steps. Of course you have to invest some time, but it is really worth the effort"

Lize Bakker

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Watch a short video animation about the Frontrunner Project (English) 

Watch a short video about the Frontrunner Project with experiences from participants (only in Dutch)

Watch a short video about the participants in the first Frontrunner Project in the municipality of Ooststellingwerf (only in Dutch)

Watch a short video about the participants in the second Frontrunner Project in the municipality of Ooststellingwerf (only in Dutch)

Kaartje deelnemers Koploperprojecten duurzaam ondernemen

Click on the map for an overview (map and list) of all business and organizations that participated in one of our Frontrunner projects

Target groups

 

The Frontrunner project aims specifically at small and medium sized enterprises (SME's) in a municipality or region. The participants are from different sectors, thereby achieving an open communication (avoiding direct competition) and stimulating mutual business opportunities. Besides SME's, often also other organizations like municipalities, schools, health care institutions and housing corporations participate. 

Frontrunner projects can also be organized for business parks or industrial areas, for example as a precursor to a next project about the sustainability of the park itself. This could be organized together with the management of the park.

 

A sectoral approach is also possible. For example, we recently started two Frontrunner projects about circular food chains and about sustainable community houses.

 

Cooperation

 

The Frontrunner Project is a nice example of a ‘multi-stakeholder’ approach. Through collaboration we can make the difference. In different provinces, DZyzzion collaborates with local partners: provinces, municipalities, business organizations, educational institutes, banks, environmental groups, consultants, communication bureaus, freelancers and several sustainability initiatives.

Education

 

A sustainable future starts with good and future oriented education. That's why we also involve schools and universities. Students can participate in the scans of the companies, in order to discover what sustainability means in real life. We also involve students when organizing symposia or for doing research. Check for instance the whitepaper (in Dutch) that was written by students about the evaluation of a Frontrunner symposium in 2014. If possible, we try to connect students to companies for doing internships. We also give guest lectures about sustainable entrepreneurship and other sustainability issues. 

Education

 

A sustainable future starts with good and future oriented education. That's why we also involve schools and universities. Students can participate in the scans of the companies, in order to discover what sustainability means in real life. We also involve students when organizing symposia or for doing research. Check for instance the whitepaper (in Dutch) that was written by students about the evaluation of a Frontrunner symposium in 2014. If possible, we try to connect students to companies for doing internships. We also give guest lectures about sustainable entrepreneurship and other sustainability issues. 

Impact

 

An external evaluation of the Frontrunner project in 2015, commissioned by the province of Friesland, concluded that the project makes an important contribution to the sustainability goals of the province and a considerable contribution to its economic goals. It is an effective instrument for supporting SME's. In many areas of sustainability the participants made important progress. A summary of the report can be downloaded here (in Dutch). Since then, we have earned much more experience, leading to even more impact.

The impact of the Frontrunner project reaches beyond the participating companies. As a result of their participation, they discuss issues with their employees, who in turn start thinking about sustainability at home. The same applies to suppliers and business partners of the participants, who are being questioned about their CSR-performances too. In this manner, the project has an impact among the whole value chain. Frequently, we see business relations or collaborations occur as a result of the project, because it leads to a fair amount of confidence among the participants.

Interested?

 

Are you interested in starting similar projects in your country? Please contact us.