Brave new world
Remember Frankenstein foods? The idea that genetically modified produce would devastate the environment, wreak havoc with biodiversity and put us all in danger. That argument raged across Europe for years and continues in some quarters to this day. Gene-edited produce is far more sophisticated, however, and it could help to solve one of the most pressing problems facing society – how to ensure that the world’s 8 billion people have enough to eat, when temperatures are rising, droughts are increasing and concerns about food security are escalating. We explore this technology in ‘Green genes’.
Technology of a very different sort is being used to solve another major challenge in today’s world: supply chain logistics. Bottlenecks, geopolitical tensions and shortages of key components – at times, it seems as if businesses are facing a perfect storm in simply transporting goods from A to B. Industry 4.0 could provide at least some of the answers. This new industrial revolution uses artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics and other advances to predict where problems might lie and how best to circumvent them. We examine these developments in ‘No chain, no gain’.
Transporting goods is one issue, but moving people about, particularly commuters, is also causing concern. Flexible working has dramatically affected traditional public transport models, with losses mounting and services struggling. Enter demand- responsive transport, where buses are run more like taxi services. Already deployed in Europe and the US, this could prove to be a valuable tool as we discuss in ‘All change’.
Looking at office and home life from a slightly different angle, we analyse major movements in the built environment.
Buildings are responsible for some 40 per cent of global emissions and firms across the value chain are under pressure to modify the way they work. That’s stoking progress in an industry that has been a stubborn laggard when it comes to innovation (‘Concrete plans’).
We also consider the world of subscription services in this edition of The Point. Widely hailed as the coming thing during the Covid-19 pandemic, several subscription-based businesses are now under pressure. Some continue to do well, however. Perhaps success rests on something quite simple: are customers being offered a service they want at an attractive price? (‘Cancel culture’).
The economic climate is inhospitable, but there are still many attractive opportunities across our chosen sectors. We highlight some of our key investments and exits in ‘Ins and outs’.
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