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Evonik completes future scenario project

Evonik has carried out the ‘Future(s) of the Specialty Chemicals Industry’ project, which it claims to be the largest study ever conducted using scenario planning in the sector. It aims to use the results “to initiate innovations early and in a targeted way” and to develop and update its long-term strategies.

The company’s Corporate Foresight team carried out over 100 interviews with internal and external experts in chemistry, politics and economics, looked at futurology studies and conducted over 15 workshops, seeking to answer one key question: what major forces could have a long-term impact on speciality chemicals companies? Five, often conflicting, scenarios were outlined:

1. Digital Champions, where major internet companies draw most from the value chain of traditional industries

2. Sustainability Paradigm, in which sustainability becomes the guiding economic principle

3. Chinese Dream, with China as technological, economic and political world power

4. Turbulent Times, where nationalism and populism lead to prolonged deglobalisation

5. Deceptive Calm, in which efforts to prop up the status quo piles up problems until it might collapse

Describing these as “very well-researched science fiction”, Harald Schwager, the deputy chairman and board member responsible for innovation, said: “The results of the scenario project now put a fascinating, strategic tool at our disposal. One that will help us model today’s ideas for innovations on the potential developments of tomorrow.”

The results are already being used in innovation processes and strategies, the company said. There will be workshops to analyse the impact of the scenarios on issues like the innovative environment, business models, customer expectations, working conditions and material flows. Business areas and regional organisations will also use them to test the robustness of existing strategies and develop new ones.

Evonik is placing an emphasis on six innovation growth fields, for which it aims to generate €1 billion more in sales by 2025: sustainable nutrition, healthcare solutions, advanced food ingredients, membranes, cosmetic solutions and additive Manufacturing. It achieved €250 million in these field in 2018 fields.

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