Trends Impact Awards: ready for the next calamity - Economic Policy

Trends Impact Awards: ready for the next calamity – Economic Policy

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At the end of November, the Trends Impact Awards will reward SMEs and large companies that have a lasting impact on their environment. Prizes will be awarded in six categories, while a Global Impact Award will be given to the most comprehensive project. This week we present to you the Trends Impact Award for Resilience.

Last week, the Walloon biotechnology company Univercells announced that it will manufacture anti-Covid-19 vaccines in Africa in collaboration with the South African company Afrigen Biologics. It’s not too soon. Do you remember how eagerly Europe waited for the first coronavirus vaccines and how quickly they arrived? For many African countries, it will have been a real ordeal of Tantalus. The vaccines existed, but the populations did not have access to them… The authorities asked that the patents be temporarily lifted, but they were refused. The continent could not produce its own vaccines and had to queue at the very end of the line to buy them. But now that Afrigen will produce its own vaccines locally, Africa can finally respond in a more resilient way.

Last week, the Walloon biotechnology company Univercells announced that it will manufacture anti-Covid-19 vaccines in Africa in collaboration with the South African company Afrigen Biologics. It’s not too soon. Do you remember how eagerly Europe waited for the first coronavirus vaccines and how quickly they arrived? For many African countries, it will have been a real ordeal of Tantalus. The vaccines existed, but the populations did not have access to them… The authorities asked that the patents be temporarily lifted, but they were refused. The continent could not produce its own vaccines and had to queue at the very end of the line to buy them. But now that Afrigen will produce its own vaccines locally, Africa can finally respond in a more resilient way. This resilience is also built into the Univercells business model, so to speak. This growing Charleroi-based company, which has raised more than 100 million euros in capital from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, is on a mission to rapidly produce affordable medicines in small factories that can be set up no anywhere in the world. The covid pandemic is far from the only crisis to have recently tested our resilience. A severe lockdown in China, a container ship stranded in the Suez Canal and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have exposed weaknesses in our supply chains. Consequence: a number of companies are in the process of relocating part of their production in order to better prepare for the next calamity. “How can you eliminate risk from your company?” This is the key question, according to Jochen Vincke, partner at the consulting firm PwC which collaborates with the Trends Impact Awards. “Think, for example, of the very long chains of electronic components in the automotive sector. Wait times for a new car can be up to a year and a half due to the shortage of certain types of chips. Production is too concentrated at certain actors or in certain regions.” The Taiwanese company TSMC occupies a particularly dominant position in this chip market. But what if China attacked the country? asks our expert. The Union understands Europe’s vulnerability and has recently drafted a European Chip Act to increase chip production on our continent. First steps have been taken. For example, the American Intel is building a new fab in the German city of Magdeburg. An investment of 17 billion euros to which the EU contributes in part. Experienced investors have long known that they can spread their risk by not putting all their money in a single stock, but by building a sufficiently diversified portfolio: stocks from different sectors and from different regions of the world, low and high risk, dividend or growth, etc. In the same way, smart and more effective long-term risk diversification can also be applied to our commodities, supply chains and markets. Jochen Vincke sees how the globalization pendulum is now swinging backwards: “Globalization has pushed companies to seek economies of scale and has led to a concentration of production where it was least through more protectionism, with more regional production”. “I hope we will have a lot of projects with climate solutions, anything that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Wayne Visser, professor of sustainable transition at Antwerp Management School, also one of partners of the Trends Impact Awards. “There will probably be a lot of projects related to energy, but others could be about how we travel, consume or change our way of life, he hopes. I would be delighted by projects that help us to cope with disasters such as the corona pandemic, or which allow us to weather crises better. The insurance industry has an important role to play in this regard, but there are other ways to make people more resilient “You can build more resilient buildings, you can teach people how to deal with stress better. There are many economic opportunities to make people better able to adapt to all kinds of disruptions.” 1. Swiss chocolate company Barry Callebaut sells some of its cocoa and chocolate products with the aim of improving the lives of bean farmers. Through its Cocoa Horizons Foundation, it invests in training farmers, in the communities where they live, in more transparent harvest chains. The foundation aims to be a platform for other companies wishing to invest in sustainable cocoa. 2. The Floating Farm in Rotterdam is a very particular example of urban agriculture. It claims to be the first floating farm in the world. By bringing part of the food production within or near their perimeter, cities become more resilient. At the floating farm, the cows are milked on the water and the cheese is made on site. Producing healthy food in the city also reduces transportation costs.

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