Sunday, October 9, 2016

How will Future Trends Influence Tomorrow's Business and What are the Future Competencies we Need?

FEI Europe 2016 presentation by Ewald Babka, Innovation Director, Happy Plating

This presentation was about two things: (1) how a team from an Austrian Research Centre successfully built a tech startup, and (2) the process they used to determine where their future opportunities may lie.

1 Company History

image from conference presentation
Happy Plating ( is a company that uses electrochemical coating technologies to provide flexible process solutions for high performance coatings.

The original three co-founders were in the Research Centre for Advanced Electrochemistry, and have grown the company to now employ 11 graduates, have a turnover of 1m, and 65% of their product exported.

In early 2016 Hirtenburger Group took a share of the company and they are now part of the engineered surfaces group.

2 Taking Their Technology into the Future

We were then shown how they evaluated their technology through a structured five step process to objectively examine what they have, what they are good at, and where trends are suggesting their future opportunities may lie.

  • Idea Development
A formal and structured review of any ideas was undertaken and they were either left (rejected), moved to business development, or to further development of long term projects.
  • Competency Analysis
A full review of the organisation's competencies was undertaken across materials, processes, and the technology itself, to determine what were their core competencies.
image from conference presentation

In parallel, a number of sources predicting Future Trends were examined and evaluated for those trends that particularly resonated as relevant for this team and their existing competencies.
  • Competencies Correlated with Trends
The organisation's competencies were then correlated with the identified and selected trends for particular development areas.

The team have also run this process as Trend Workshops for other small enterprises.

  • Individual Consolidation
These areas were then consolidated down to specific future areas of focus.

  • Open Innovation Workshop
Finally, workshops were run with customers for ideas from them, with successful customer implementation the end result.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr Claire McGowan is CEO for SODA Inc. (, a Founder-focused incubator and Wintec company based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Claire has trained as a life scientist, worked in venture capital and investment banking, and built and sold several businesses, including @clairemcgowan @Soda_inc @IPMarket

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