Innovations from the EU: Our 5 favorite examples from 2016


Images (in order of appearance) sourced from Movement on the Ground, Honest Discounts, Philips & Elle.

As we’re sure you’re all aware, June 24th marked the day that the British public decided to leave the European Union. But don’t panic! We’re not here to add to the mass of political commentary already on offer (we’re sure you’re almost sick of hearing about it ;).

Instead, as a way of saying an unfortunate farewell to the country's involvement in the union, we take a quick time-out to look over some of our favorite innovations developed from inside the EU this year.

Remember, as we said in our recent GLOBAL BRAIN briefing, trends are crossing borders more rapidly than ever before. Diversity is the lifeblood of innovation - and these 5 examples showcase some of the most future-focused brands, organizations and campaigns we’ve seen across the continent so far in 2016.

Dive in!

Airline and travel agent partner to support refugee crisis

Transavia providing transport for refugee camp volunteers

Netherlands-based travel agent Sunweb teamed up with Dutch airline Transavia to offer cost-price accommodation and direct flights from Amsterdam to Lesvos for volunteers helping with the refugee crisis on the island. Created in partnership with mobile humanitarian aid organization, Movement On The Ground, the deal was available between February and April 2016. Volunteers were asked to contribute EUR 419 to 459 per person, with any surplus funds donated to the volunteer work on Lesvos. (This example was featured in our GLOBAL BRAIN briefing). 

Electronics brand sends customers money via mobile payments app

Pause & Swish send consumers money before they make a purchase

Honest Discounts was a promotion launched in April 2016 by Pause in partnership with mobile payment app Swish. Rather than offering discounts on products, the Swedish electronics company uses Swish to send money to consumers before they have made a purchase. Shoppers can then choose to purchase if they wish, and have the amount credited to their account. According to Pause, Honest Discounts is an attempt to restore consumer trust after a series of retailers in the country boosted their prices and then lowered them to create a ‘sale’. (This example was featured in our INNOVATION CELEBRATION briefing). 

Café chain helps boost energy levels with daylight lamps

Starbucks & Philips - EnergyUp cafes

In January 2016, Philips transformed four branches of Starbucks in the Netherlands into EnergyUp cafés. Over a one-month period, customers could enjoy Starbucks products while using an EnergyUp energy lamp. The lamps are designed to have a mood-lifting, revitalizing effect after around 20 minutes of use, by mimicking natural daylight to help boost energy levels. The EnergyUp lamps were free to use at the pop-up cafés, and customers could also download a voucher for a free coffee via the promotion’s website. (This example was featured in our FUTURE OF BETTERMENT briefing).

Airline lets passengers finish watching in-flight movies at home

Air France lets passengers finish in-flight movie at home

Air France’s Cinema To Go program gave long haul passengers the chance to watch movies that have won awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Celebrating the airline’s partnership with the May 2016 event, Cinema To Go included a selection of winning films such as The Pianist, Persepolis and The Artist. For passengers who weren’t able to finish watching their chosen movie in-flight, Air France also gave customers a gift code so that they could view the end at home on a tablet, cellphone or computer. (This example was featured in our INNOVATION CELEBRATION briefing). 

Fashion retailer unveils gender-neutral apparel line

Zara’s ‘Ungendered' fashion line

March 2016 saw Zara unveil Ungendered: a 16-piece unisex clothing line. Including jeans, t-shirts and sweaters, the entire collection is gender-neutral and features both men and women in ads sporting the attire interchangeably. The collection was available to buy online and in stores internationally, with prices ranging from GBP 9.99 – 29.99. (This example was featured in our GLOBAL BRAIN briefing). 


All of the above examples are featured in our free Global Trend Briefings. You can get these delivered to your inbox every month by subscribing right here.