During more than one year, Christer Asplund and Magnus Fransson in Bearing have been working on creating a project in a rural area of Sweden, and we can today report on the establishment of a successful project based on disruptive technology. It is increasingly important for place managers to follow the disruptive technology shifts when searching for new opportunities.
As is often the case, Bearing have acted as the project catalysts and drivers behind the spotlights.
The disruptive character of the Wargö project is based on a Swedish verified patent allowing for a “cradle-to-cradle” industrial process where used textiles are recycled into new fibers. Major textile companies are very interested and are welcoming the new industrial process as it will allow textiles to become a sustainable material, along the same lines as for wood fibers and metals. A decision has been made to take the invention into a demi-scale demonstration plant in Wargön followed by a full-scale production plant with an annual output of 50.000 tons.
It has been welcomed as a major achievement in the field of sustainable technologies. It will have major impact on employment -500 new directly employed – bringing high-tech jobs to both Vänersborg and Trollhättan. Wargön hosts many complementary stakeholders in a long value chain. This is why the Wargön project is considered as a major cluster effort.
Thus, the point we make here is that the Wargön project illustrates the impact of disruptive technologies and how a technical break through can generate applied industries even in a relatively short time.
In the illustration below some of the most important disruptive technologies from the 1850´s and up to now are illustrated.
The challenge for the place managers is to discover early enough what is going to happen. We are certainly not arguing that a place manager need to be an expert in various technologies. What we are saying is that place managers:
1) Must be open minded and curious enough to listen carefully to experts dealing with areas of disruptive technologies.
2) Must be prepared to exploit the new opportunities for their place.
3) Must be brave enough to invite experts and stakeholders/entrepreneurs with potential interests to promote prototypes or establish demo-sites which can act as show-cases for the market.
In the hyper competition of the world today, innovations must be made visible and verified quickly. Therefore, an early demo-site investment is a way to save time and secure a competitive position.
This is exactly what was described last week in the press-conference in the small city of Vänersborg.
If Europe will improve its competitiveness, European places must follow these three basic principles. Unfortunately, there are few places competent or brave enough to embark on this disruptive road. Instead the majority of places feel more secure along the road of continuous, small improvements within “their” current industries.
If we compare Asian and European performance in relation to disruptive technologies there are too many witnesses of a slower implementation process here in Europe. Therefore we need to stimulate more European cases like the recent one in Vänersborg.