Post #22: “Technology is the best way to differentiate ourselves”

These were the words uttered by an executive whom we met when visiting businesses in Denmark last week. It is also a statement with which we wholeheartedly agree. To misquote Charles Darwin, it is neither the strongest nor the most intelligent of businesses that will survive in the long-term, but those that are most responsive to change. Below follow very brief highlights on how the three businesses we met are currently using technology to differentiate themselves – 

Christian Hansen is the largest producer of ‘good bacteria’ in the world, with its solutions used in the food & beverage and healthcare industries. Growing consumer demand is driving the need for innovation in areas such as the microbiome and plant nutrition (e.g. products such as Impossible Burgers). Even in somewhat more mundane categories such as cheese, its latest product (KY-MAX) can drive up to a 1.0% increase in yield, which is clearly attractive for dairy producers. Looking ahead, Hansen sees scope for its innovation to target market opportunities such as substitutes for antibiotics in farming. 

Novo Nordisk is the world’s leading manufacturer of insulin for the treatment of diabetes. There is a clear emphasis on growing research spend at present, particularly into areas where there are the biggest unmet needs, such as obesity (some 80% of diabetics are also obese). Much of the effort at Novo is also on considering other ‘adjacencies’ such as cardiovascular, kidney and liver issues, which also often impact diabetics. Within diabetes specifically, Novo sees further scope to differentiate itself through developing its oral franchise (i.e. moving away from having to inject insulin) and through extending product life (i.e. so patients need take doses less regularly). 

Vestas is the biggest player in the global wind turbine industry. Its scale has helped it recently to innovate ahead of its peers in the following key areas (1) hybrid solutions – Vestas is offering integrated software solutions that will allow customers to purchase combined wind, solar and storage packages. Hybrid solutions can help lift alternative energy penetration into the grid (2) the EnVentus platform (launched in January) represents a step-change in turbine production, shifting to a modular system which allows for improved turbine production and wind farm configuration (3) the recent Utopus acquisition is allowing Vestas to push into new areas regarding algorithms for turbine operators to optimise wind usage in different conditions.


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