Two weeks ago, GreenBiz published their 3rd annual State of Green Business Report which highlights the rising trends of increasingly sustainable companies.

One of the sections of this popular report is dedicated to “Green Innovation” that has sprouted over the last year.  Of them, Executive Editor and author Joel Makower noted these collaborative innovations in particular:

“…2009 saw a new spirit of collaboration take hold. The Eco-Patent Commons — launched in 2008 by IBM, Nokia, Pitney-Bowes, Sony, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and others to contribute environmental patents to the public domain — hit its stride last year. Among other things, the group added its 100th “IP-free” technology, meaning the innovations (a.k.a. “intellectual property” or IP) were openly available to all participants.

Meanwhile, another technology-sharing group called GreenXchange launched with the goal of allowing companies to share intellectual property for green product design, packaging, manufacturing and other uses. Founded by Nike, Best Buy and other companies, the group is partnering with Creative Commons, a nonprofit that has designed licenses that allow creators of intellectual property to share their work. Its licenses are used by everyone from Wikipedia to the White House.

And the Environmental Defense Fund launched an Innovation Exchange to encourage companies to share best practices related to energy, water, climate and a host of other issues. Like the others, it hopes to propagate technologies and best practices.”

Collaborations seem to have become increasingly popular over the past year as organizations from all sectors deal with the challenges of the current economy and recognize that idea sharing will hasten the advent of a greener economy.

Another powerful example of collaboration is the new Sustainability Consortium: a group composed of government, NGO, academic and business interests that are working together to develop an open source online platform to assess the environmental impacts of consumer products over their lifecycle (from creation to end use/disposal).

The Consortium will not validate or audit product LCAs (Lifecycle Assessments), but instead will work to develop methods and tools to help companies find innovative ways to make products with less of an impact on the environment.  The online platform (Earthster) is still in the process of development and testing, but is expected to be open for public use mid-2010.

These partnerships and many others demonstrate the potential of collaboration to bring all sectors involved to new heights of innovation.