We look at the value space from four different angles: urban versus rural and public versus private. Let’s begin with the first two options. What we see is that the vast majority of propositions that companies develop are focused on the living environment of urban areas. Business models within the rural scope are mainly about innovations in the field of agriculture and food. Think of robots for precision agriculture and the use of artificial intelligence to map the quality of harvests. If we look a little further into the future, you can think of drone deliveries for food and medication, among other things.
Wavin Stormwater Management.
Then there is the distinction between public and private. The first-mentioned layer is all about solutions in the public area. The government, business communities, citizens and sometimes educational institutions are working together to create healthier and more sustainable living environment. Safety, well-being and cost reduction play a role in many of these initiatives. A good example of such an innovative solution comes from the Dutch company Wavin. They have been the European market leader in the field of plastic pipe systems for many years and are now pioneering in this public layer withWavin Stormwater Management. This is a range of ingenious applications for collecting and absorbing large amounts of rainwater on rooftops and paved areas. Their products ensure that cities are better prepared for more extreme weather, a direct consequence of climate change.
The smart fridge, it’s coming.
When we take it from the angle of business models in the private space, we see companies who play a big role in and around our homes. Think about your smart home applications. The smart doorbell from Ring, the refrigerator with built-in camera from Samsung, the robot vacuum cleaner from Dyson and the lock without a key, an innovation from the still young company Loqed. The smartphone plays a role in many of these smart applications, increasingly becoming a remote control for people’s lives. Admittedly, the smart refrigerator was big announced years ago. But the breakthrough seems to be coming. Juniper Research expects nearly 13.5 billion smart devices to be in circulation by 2025. The new generation of washing machines that Amazon is developing goes even one step further. The appliance knows when the detergent is low and automatically orders a new pack for delivery the next day. It’s not hard to guess which online store is taking the order.
Furniture as a service.
Everyday Living is not just about new, groundbreaking technology. It also concerns existing products that are offered in a different way. Here we see the shift from possession to use. For example, IKEA is running a pilot with Furniture as a service, a concept where you can rent your entire interior at home for a fixed amount per month. After the rental period, all products are given a second life in the Circular Hub, a part of the store that has been set up as a bargain corner. The Danish NormNorm does something similar. This company offers entrepreneurs a range of circular furniture for the design of their office. The costs start at €1 per day per employee. This whole concept revolves around extending product life. It’s about repair instead of throwing away. About renovate instead of discarding.
As a service is one of the interesting trends we see emerging within this value space. This also applies to local-for-local, where people are consciously choosing products that are produced in their own neighborhood or region. This has a clear purpose: fewer transport kilometers and, when it comes to food, also less waste. Due to the corona crisis, awareness around local food chains has accelerated. More and more people attach value to products with a reliable origin. A concrete example of such a local-for-local product is urban farming.
The uprising of urban farms.
By 2050, it is estimated that nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. On top of that, climate change is putting pressure on traditional farming methods. This combination makes food security a major challenge for our future. It is therefore not surprising that more cities are focusing on urban agriculture. Take Paris for instance, where in recent years more than 100 hectares of unused rooftops and walls have been transformed into gardens for fruit and vegetables. In Canada, Lufa Farms opened its first commercial rooftop farm in Montreal more than thirteen years ago. The company now supplies more than 20,000 vegetable baskets per week.
Start innovating in an eco-system.
Making sure that we can continue living in healthy, safe, and sustainable environments. That is going to be a big challenge for governments, companies and consumers. Building your business around people’s living environment offers great opportunities to design solutions for all of your stakeholders involved. It’s also a space where we need to start innovating as part of an eco-system, in order to overcome the challenges we are facing as a growing population. For us it’s 100 percent sure we will see some brand new business models in this space. And to be honest, we cannot wait for it.