Horizons newsletter – week 43 // 2017

Horizons newsletter – week 43 // 2017

Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
Do you have a question about the digitization of consumer’s daily lives? As a research-driven investment company, we want to be relevant to you, so please provide us with your questions and remarks. Your feedback will help us to drive our research agenda.


Future proof food security

Ireland is the global winner in terms of how well it can feed its own people. For the first time, the U.S. has lost the top spot in the Global Food Security Index, the ranking on food affordability, availability, quality and safety. This is remarkable, considering that the U.S is the largest food exporter. Since 2016, food security in over 60% of countries declined and, taking into consideration the impacts of climate change, some countries may sink even further. The main explanation for the decline is the reduced public expenditure on agricultural R&D. Innovation is however crucial to food security. Adopting agricultural technology, like precision farming technology, which helps to produce more efficiently, advances rapidly. And as Berenberg research shows, farmers adopt technology faster and faster: it took 25 years for tractor adoption rates to reach 80%, 19 years for hybrid corn adoption and only 13 years for genetically-modified corn adoption. Those investing in ‘agtech’ could unlock a new agricultural revolution and be the next winners in a world of climate change and scarce resources.

Blocking out the media middlemen

Blockchain’s impact on financial institutions is widely reported, but blockchain can disrupt any business that serves as an intermediary between product and consumer. Today’s media industry provides an example. In advertising, for instance, a chain of in-between ad tech companies leave only 45 cents of every ad dollar for the publisher. In music, meanwhile, copyright management involves complicated payments through various performance-rights organizations to the labels and finally to artists. Blockchain could automate these payments for ad space or music licenses, bypassing all the go-betweens including platforms, tech companies, aggregators and collection associations. Already a number of companies, in particular in music and advertising, are exploring blockchain concepts in media. OPUS, for example, is introducing blockchain-based music streaming, MetaX is experimenting with blockchain solutions in online advertising, and Civil plans to build newsrooms on blockchain using Ethereum’s distributed ledger technology. For now, these initiatives face difficulties in attracting content and customers, but these media blockchain concepts hint at a complete reinvention of the media value chain and for once it is the middlemen who are at risk.

Unlocking the skyscape

Recent technological improvements in AI (machine vision), battery technology, and sensory and wireless communication technology (accelerometers and GPS) have made it possible for drones to unlock a new physical layer of value creation: the skyscape. Up until now, most drones in our skies were consumer drones, which are basically flying cameras. But commercial drones will create many new autonomous aerial practices: from commuting Zeppelins, suborbital space travel to flying delivery warehouses. Even more than with other autonomous machines, like self-driving cars, most of us do not have piloting skills, nor do we have experience with flying or aerial practices, so drone regulation is difficult to draft. But as juridical insecurity is often an important hindrance for innovation and business investments, (local) governments have started piloting drone regulation in both congested and faraway regions. For example,Swiss cities and Tanzania are now running pilot schemes for medical supply delivery by drones. As governments start to ready their sky for a new generation of flying machines, the commercial drone market is ready for take-off.