Hankendagen 2022: "Invest as much resources in shaping the market as in shaping the innovation"
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- We live in a complex system that cannot be controlled. A complex system developes when all market players influence it with their operations. As a result surprisingly new things emerge that cannot be predicted, says Kaj Storbacka, dean and professor at Hanken.
Previously, companies defined themselves around their product and the market was seen as a given environment, within which they competed for market shares. Nowadays, people are increasingly thinking about the value that the customer can create by using the product or service they offer, ie the focus is now on the product's user value.
- Kone, for example, are successful in the manufacture of lifts and escalators, but their strategy is to focus on improving the people flow. That includes everything from navigation within buildings to how to get in and out. It becomes a whole system that gives them the opportunity to grow, Storbacka describes.
According to him, nowadays it is incredibly difficult to know what will happen in the market, which is affected by everything from technological development to various crises, but at the same time it is easier to shape a market that is already in motion, and you can do it with your own strategy.
- Half of all innovations fail and research shows that the general explanation for this is that "the market was not ready". My argument is that you need to invest as much resources in shaping the market as in shaping the innovation - and therefore we need new types of strategies, says Storbacka.
The end of globalisation but still globally dependent
Maria Wetterstrand, CEO of Miltton Europe, has a background as a spokesperson and Member of Parliament in Sweden and is very involved in sustainability issues. At Hankendagen, she talked about the future and trends and whether we should push for change or rather follow others.
- What we are seeing now is the end of globalisation and at the same time we are more global than ever. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have disrupted global relations and trade flows in a way we are not used to, Wetterstrand points out.
According to her, we are at the same time extremely dependent on the global trade flows and the flow of information is definitely global as news is wired all over the world in no time. The whole world is interconnected, for example through environmental problems and emissions that lead to climate change, which can affect people on the other side of the earth.
- There is a big gap between the decisions made within the EU and where we want to be in terms of reduced climate-affecting emissions. Sweden and Finland are best at renewable energy in the EU, so we have certain good conditions here in our part of the world that we must take advantage of, Wetterstrand emphasises.
How can you then start a greener development? Wetterstrand talked about wind power as a good example.
-The innovation has existed for a long time, then they went in with political instruments and created an artificial market. After that there was a boom in technology development, prices dropped and now we have a situation where wind power is competitive in itself, says Wetterstrand.
The energy cluster in Vaasa in a key position for a newly established battery company
Hankendagen's concluding discussion concerned the battery company Grafintec, which is strengthening its position in the Finnish battery field. There are plans to develop an anode material factory in Vaasa, which will need graphite. If all goes well, the factory will be up and running in 2025.
Grafintec has received an ore prospecting permit for a graphite mine in Heinävesi and Rasmus Blomqvist, CEO, is excited about the new possibilities.
- Graphite is the largest raw material in batteries. As a geologist, I had some understanding that it could be possible to find graphite of the right quality in Finland. It was still quite difficult to find investors because of Talvivaara, Blomqvist states.
Together with Epsilon Advanced Materials, however, Grafintec has now booked a large plot in Vaasa with plans to build the factory there. Blomqvist states that the reason why they chose Vaasa is that there is an area that is dedicated to the battery industry and there are energy clusters and expertise in battery manufacturing in the area.
- We clean the graphite in over 2,000 degrees heat so you can imagine that both where the energy comes from and also the cost are very important factors. Vaasa is one of the few places that can ensure 100% renewable energy, Blomqvist states.
Photo: Christoffer Björklund