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On Fringe Opportunities...

Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVTOL) applies as much to the world of corporate innovation realisation as it does to it's more familiar application...drones.


But often the visual line of sight of an opportunity for a corporation (or any other type of organisation) is more a question of recognition of what's already surrounding it...or rapidly approaching it.


The "it" in question could be a certain technology or technologies which are rapidly converging, compounding and creating effects far beyond the actual tech itself. Examples abound where technology costs rapidly come down, enabling more players to contribute to their improvements, driving more sales, reducing production costs, opening up adjacent streams etc. Of course it doesn't all happen in a nice linear sequence like we see on Powerpoints. It's very messy and sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees.


But many do see it. A good example of this unfolding in front of our eyes is the order of magnitude reduction in cost for getting things into orbit due to the reusability of rockets, led by SpaceX, and being seized upon by others with stellar ambitions having been shown the art of the possible. This is visualised with crystal clarity on pages 123-124 of ARK INVEST's Big Ideas 2022 report just out. As ARK say..."change appears to happen slowly, then all at once". Go check it out.


New and emerging technologies also have a habit of creating new ecosystems of players who come together from a wide range of organisations such as Universities, Research & Technology Organisations (RTOs), SMEs, Corporates, Accelerators, Cities and Startups...and others.


These ecosystems can often start out with a bit of funding (cash, resources, infrastructure) from the constituents as well as National or EU level grants, and rapidly fuel the fires of creativity as those organisations spin-off each other bringing separate, but complimentary, capabilities, giving life to the commercialisation of useful applications that can upend industries. VC and other money floods in, Startup exits and acquisitions fire-up the excitement levels and mad ideas can turn into monetisation. And again it's not a nice linear recipe.


Often in the past, localisation was a key to exploiting these ecosystems, but the last couple of years has challenged that myth as ecosystem innovation has zoomed and teams'd up the creativity scale across continents.


Creating consortia is one way of spreading the risk and investment, and helping to magnify optics on opportunities beyond the capability of any individual organisation. It's now easier than ever to spin-up an R&D or commercialisation consortium, pulling in collaborators from Iceland to Italy and everywhere in between. Working in this space on a daily basis I am constantly inspired by both technological research and commercial creativity that the multitude of organisational mash-ups across the European continent, and beyond, afford us.


That ability to recognise a fast moving trajectory, whether technological or possible commercial business model, is certainly a must-have asset in this fast moving world. And change/opportunity doesn't just come at us from straight ahead. It requires a 360° business sensor array constantly refreshed to rapidly converging constellations vectoring on your industry's orbit.


In the Nordics we see some strong examples of global leaders across industries such as energy and logistics who are capable of simultaneously delivering complex and essential services, at the same time as developing sustainable new capabilities that will have a global impact. A great example of this would be the recently announced Stillstrom offshore charging buoy from Maersk which will "eliminate offshore idle vessel emissions and facilitate clean offshore charging across multiple maritime sectors". To realise this level of dramatic innovation, Maersk Supply Service have partnered up with Ørsted, themselves no stranger to massive transformative industry shifts.


Often when we hear of stories like these we don't necessarily appreciate the sheer complexity, beyond the technological challenge, of aligning organisations around such ambitious missions. I guess if it was easy then everyone would be doing it. But certain characteristics such as courage and the ability to see Beyond Visual Line Of Sight must come into it.


And not listening to naysayers.


I still remember being told by a corporate warrior back in 2016..."why are you wasting all your time on those drone things?". Enough said...

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