The Future of Bio-based Fuels & Chemicals: A Thought Experiment
The focus of my talk will be on Change!
1925 Nobel-Prize winner and Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Globally, it has been recognized that there is an urgent need to create paradigm shifting disruptive technology that would help sustain individual economies – with the goal to sustain life on earth, while simultaneously creating a successful and profitable business model.
Today we need to face the fact that business models and the parameters that surround it are less durable than they used to be in the past. The current biomass industry is focused on the two primary trends in the industry – first, is the ubiquitous “tunnel vision” and the second, to mimic or follow the self-proclaimed “global leaders” in the field, which hinders true developments in the field.
While the essential rules of the standard business practices i.e., staying ahead of the curve and for creating and capturing economic value simultaneously were once fixed in place for years, even decades, as businesses tried to execute the same business models better than their competition. But in the present day, the business models are subject to rapid displacement, disruption, and, in extreme cases, outright destruction. What’s less familiar is how, precisely, new entrants achieve and capitalize their disruptive power. What enables them to skirt constraints and exploit unseen opportunities and add to the development and well being of the human race? For incumbents, this kind of innovation is notoriously hard. Some struggle merely to recognize the opportunities. Others shrink from cannibalizing profit streams. Still others tinker and tweak – but seldom change – the rules of their domains. Should it be so difficult for established companies to re-innovate their business models? What approach would allow incumbents to overturn the traditional conventions of their industries before others do? Or simply opt for other commercialization strategies such as joint ventures and mergers to last another handful years!
The focus of my talk will be on taking actual examples from industry/academia that are the – high priority focus areas – of research and development – on a global level. The talk will highlight this idea of valorisation of components of biomass and some potential areas that could use a – thought experiment – before investing into a technology based on a high level of misdirection while ignoring a true development that never made it out of a research lab.
I will highlight some of the inherent issues with upgrading technologies on a fundamental – molecular level.