Now showing items 21-40 of 171

    • Uncovering potential business opportunities in the imaging and video market for robotic surgery

      De Vuyst, Josephine; Moerman, Janssens, Marijke (2021)
      This in-company project aims to uncover business opportunities in the imaging and video market for robotic surgery for Orsi Academy. It was conducted by a team of two master students General Management from Vlerick Business School with a background in pharmaceutical sciences and a background in corporate finance. Orsi Academy is a center focused on training for robotic surgery, research and development (R&D) and data management where different stakeholders work together in order to contribute to the improvement of minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The center was founded in 2010 by Prof. Dr. Mottrie and is located in Melle, Belgium. Next to providing training, Orsi Academy is a unique center for different stakeholders where healthcare professionals (HCP’s), the medical devices industry and academics are brought together in a multi-disciplinary setting to benefit from each other and share their experiences and knowledge. In addition, Orsi Academy possesses a great number of images/videos of robotic surgery procedures which they believe could be of great value to companies for e.g., product development purposes. Partially due to the above-stated strong network of Orsi Academy, Orsi could possibly gain access to additional images/videos. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to construct a viable business model in which these surgical images/videos (originating from surgeons) are collected (input-side) by Orsi and can eventually be used for product development by companies in this market (output-side). To construct this business model, different questions have to be answered, which can be summarized in the following: 1. Product specification: What will be/are the exact product(s) offered to clients? 2. - Input-side: How will Orsi Academy obtain the(se) product(s)? 3. Output-side: Who will be the client group for the(se) product(s). Methodology. First, a literature review was conducted to gain a more elaborate understanding of the research subject. Second, extensive desk research was conducted to understand the market of surgical/videos and discover potentially interesting sectors (medical video hardware companies, robotic vendors, AI start-ups, training and e-learning platforms and (surgical) video platforms) and companies. Thereafter, it was decided to conduct semi-structured interviews with medical students, residents, surgeons and companies to gather information on both the input and output-side. Fourthly, a survey was sent to medical residents (from the 6th year onwards) and surgeons to support and further clarify several findings of the interviews. Lastly, all the insights and findings were combined in a plausible business model supplemented by practical recommendations for Orsi Academy. Results: Two main insights on the output-side could be deducted from the performed research. Firstly, the simulation companies, e-learning and training platforms and the surgical video platforms seem less interesting client groups to pursue due to multiple reasons (e.g., no need of videos, videos should have a specific template…). Therefore, it is recommended to focus on the other three client groups: the AI-start-ups, the medical video hardware companies, and the robotic vendors. Secondly, based on the interviews, two leads of clients were identified as useful contacts for a later phase of the implementation of the business model in practice: SurgicalScience and Incision. Concerning the input-side, several findings can be formulated. First, only a small percentage of the surgeons should be convinced to obtain a great number of videos which serve as input for a viable new business model. Second, it became clear that surgeons are willing to share their videos and images, but experience two main barriers associated with sharing: time-consuming (e.g., workload editing) and the legal/ethical questions. This of course creates opportunities for Orsi Academy to resolve their hassles. Next, when providing input to Orsi Academy which will be used by another company for product development, surgeons would prefer the following retributions: first access to (a part of) Orsi’s collection of videos and tools such as storage and editing, then incentive-based retribution 1and last commission-based retribution. Lastly, the interviews demonstrated that companies do not approach surgeons in a systematic way to obtain input for their product development. Conclusion. All these findings were combined into the following suggested business model. Surgeons provide Orsi Academy with own (surgical) videos and images. Orsi Academy creates a collection of videos of different surgeons and maintains a video library with this input. From this video library packages can be made for other companies, namely the AI start-ups, the medical video hardware companies and the robotic vendors. The companies pay a fixed price for the package of videos, depending on the number of videos, and optionally extra working hours if they request annotated videos. Orsi Academy rewards the surgeons for their input through an incentive or commission-based retribution model. This way value is created for all parties in this new business model for Orsi Academy.
    • Climate as a service: “Building a new business model for a geothermal energy company”

      Bonte, Loïc; Depoot, Wout; Lauwers, Ward (2021)
      This study aims to improve revenue and profitability of Geo-Thermics by investigating a new business model. This way, Geo-Thermics will become more competitive and will be able to reel in a lot more projects. At the moment, there is a lot of competition in the geothermal installations market and this without a strong legal framework, resulting in competitors cutting prices by delivering a bad service. For instance a lot of competitors start drilling less meters, which results in lower heating (or cooling) capacities, literally leaving people in the cold during winter. Next to that, the price of geothermal installations compared to regular gas installations is rather high, which leaves project developers and social housing agencies less inclined to opt for geothermal installations. To become more competitive, the option of an Energy Service Company (ESCO) was investigated where the ESCO is a company that finances the geothermal installation and asks a monthly fee towards residents in return. This way, project developers have to invest less and will be more willing to partner up with Geo-Thermics. Also, Geo-Thermics can offer a different new and innovative service, making Geo-Thermics a lot more competitive. In general, Belgium lacks a strong legal framework towards ESCO’s, as compared to the Netherlands. It is clear that project developers, similar to how ESCO’s operate in the Netherlands, will still pay a part of the installation. A total monthly fee of around €116 (VAT incl.) is obtained for the reference scenario, based on realistic assumptions, obtained through interviews and research. This way, the ESCO will get its investment back by the end of the 8th year. Because of the lack of legal framework, ESCO’s in Belgium are still in their infancy but are starting to pop up here and there. The total monthly fee of €116 (VAT incl.) definitely seems feasible and the profitability of the ESCO is rather good. Next to that, Geo-Thermics will deliver all part of the installations and its revenue will increase substantially. Towards the future, it is important not to neglect the legal side of the story. It’s important to have a better understanding of what happens in case of defaulters. Also, since the legal framework concerning ESCO’s is still missing, it is important to stay informed of possible upcoming legislations. Next to that, it is also required to further investigate whether or not the collective heat pump can decrease the required investment in the future.
    • Exploring LMIC markets for potential business development opportunities for the company

      Boonen, Jeroen; Sabonnadiere, Matthieu; Vlaminck, Johnny (2021)
      Unizima is one of four subsidiaries of Univercells, a Belgian biotech company with the single mission of making biologics available and affordable to all. It is a small startup company that aims at becoming the trusted partner and nexus for building and maintaining decentralized biomanufacturing and patient care capacities, mainly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). To do so, it plans to combine the expertise and technology of the other subsidiaries of Univercells in turnkey projects. Unizima will cooperate with local governments and public institutes, local pharmaceutical industry partners and with a charitable donor group (“the Foundation”). The Foundation provides financial and technical assistance to LMIC governments through Unizima as a turnkey service provider for highimpact projects. NEED. Today, the need for biologics (both vaccines and biosimilars) in LMICs is large and growing. Yet, high production prices, inadequate screening, and a lack of specialized centers truly limit patient access, especially in LMICs. It is Unizima’s belief that it can address this need by combining its expertise and by leveraging the Univercells group’s access to affordable technology. However, the company is still in a very nascent stage with limited resources and capacities. Therefore, its approach towards LMIC access must be tailored to maximize its impact. OBJECTIVES. The overarching objective of this consultancy project was to explore LMIC markets for potential business development opportunities for Unizima through the application of a structured market intelligence approach. To do so, five specific research questions (RQs) were formulated and addressed. First the most attractive LMICs for Unizima to develop partnerships with local industry were identified within different global regions (RQ1). After which the main target countries for Foundation-funded projects were also identified (RQ2). Within selected countries, the market attractiveness and biologics industry landscape were examined (RQ3) and local industrial partners were investigated (RQ4). Finally, a competitor analysis was performed to evaluate potential competitive threats to Unizima’s business (RQ5). METHODS AND RESULTS. Based on interviews with internal and external stakeholders, company-provided information and the available business literature, a framework was developed and applied to calculate and assign success scores to preselected LMICs per geographical area. The success score reflects the attractiveness of the country for Unizima to look for and develop industry partnerships. Within the MEA region, the countries to target are South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Jordan. In SE & Central Asia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Turkey were identified as the countries with most potential (RQ1). For each of those countries, ID cards for both the vaccine and biosimilar industry landscape were produced (RQ3) and local partners with a strong interest or experience in biologics were identified. As a first step, it is recommended to focus on local companies that demonstrate a good partnership potential for Unizima as displayed in the company ID cards (RQ4). In addition, Unizima should further prioritize companies that are looking for backward integration in the biomanufacturing value chain. More than ten potential competitors that could constitute a threat to the different aspects of Unizima’s business model were identified in this report (RQ5). In general, competitors could be separated into four categories, each having a distinct potential impact on Unizima: companies that (i) focus on designing bioprocesses, (ii) companies that offer full DBOM services or (iii) that specialize in some components thereof and (iv) biotech or pharma players. No companies were identified that offer the same integrated approach and focus on LMICs as Unizima. For Unizima to mediate the potential competitive threats identified in this report, it should clarify its business model and engage in partnerships with companies with complementary offerings to further differentiate and create a unique value proposition. Furthermore, it should leverage the innovative edge of the Univercells Group wherever possible. The current report also showcases an approach for Unizima on how to identify countries with a high potential for Foundation supported projects (RQ2). Segmenting countries within a geographic area on their success score and the official development assistance they receive for the health sector helped identify where projects could deliver the highest impact while considering the feasibility and future profitability of the project. In total 10, 7 and 6 countries were identified in the MEA, SE & Central Asia and LATAM region respectively that could provide interesting leads for the Foundation of which the most attractive areas are within the sub-Saharan Africa region (Senegal, Kenia, Tanzania, and Uganda). Going forward, Unizima should combine the information provided in this report with the hands-on experience of the team and liaise preliminary contacts with key local partners identified in this paper for both Foundation and industry partnerships. Furthermore, it should tailor its offering to fit the needs of its potential customers and design the market entry strategy for a particular market based on provided information on the specific country's pharma ecosystem. Finally, an assessment of the economics of the project should decide whether to commit. CONCLUSION. The current report provides Unizima with frameworks and a prioritized list of LMICs to target to develop partnerships with local industry or for foundation-supported projects. The delivered country and company ID cards offer in-depth intelligence on the local market and the top players within that market. Combined, this will support Unizima in its mission to achieve maximum impact with the highest chance of success.
    • A SAAS business from scratch: The discovery, validation and launch of a citizen development SAAS platform within an incubator ecosystem

      Debacker, Sibrecht; Spileers, Andreas; T’kindt, Lander (2021)
      This report validates the business idea of Cloudr, a tool that converts spreadsheets into web applications. For this, the challenges of spreadsheets within organizations and their current solutions are portrayed, after which the feasibility of the proposed business concept is analyzed. Insights from literature review, qualitative research (interviews with business users, IT and potential partners) and quantitative research (a survey) are provided. Moreover, enlightenment is provided onto the technological, strategic and financial feasibility. Current literature reinforces the challenges of spreadsheets within organizations such as version control, data governance and the management of shadow IT. Current low-code platforms are not sucient to resolve these challenges, as many business users consider them to be either too complex, or too limited in functionality. The current competitors within the spreadsheet conversion landscape have not successfully exploited all opportunities at present, leaving room for a solution such as Cloudr. Furthermore, both the survey and interviews with business users confirm the diculty of creating web applications, whereas the IT department understands the risks of shadow IT practices and the need for data governance. Initial conversations with strategic partners have even highlighted their interest to collaborate. Therefore, we see an opportunity for the proposed business idea within the low-code market: a tool that converts a spreadsheet into a Microsoft Power App, both as an exact copy or through altering the layout using a layout builder. The technological feasibility of this concept has been validated successfully through the development of a functional proof of concept in which all core functionalities are included. This proof of concept is suciently sophisticated to be used as a demo pitch towards initial prospects. Technicalities that are not yet implemented, are validated through conversations with field experts. No major technological complications are expected, although it will be dicult to opt for a true SaaS approach as introducing customer stickiness is not evident when making use of third-party platforms as a conversion tool. A strategic analysis points out the achievability of the business idea from a strategic point of view. There is a reasonable amount of threats, some of which can be alleviated by leveraging the Cronos ecosystem. An example of a significant threat is the bargaining power that Microsoft has as a supplier of Power Platform. A market size analysis indicates that a sizeable market is available. Lastly, the financial forecasts are promising, with an estimated revenue of 2.3 million euro and a net profit of about 500,000 euro after-tax in year five. For this, a total investment of 200,000 euro besides the injected start-up capital is required within the first year. Given that the feasibility of the business concept has been validated successfully until now, our recommendation is to continue the development of Cloud and further investigate the interest of the market. This is why we have set up a meeting with a potential first customer after our project, during which we will pitch the business concept of Cloudr.
    • Identifying current neurosurgeons' concerns about cns gene therapy introduction and providing solutions

      Yuklyaeva, Daria; Montaldo Torres, Ángela; Gil, Patricia (2021)
      Identifying current neurosurgeons' concerns about cns gene therapy introduction and providing solutions. This project is aimed to understand the main bottlenecks for the implementation of CNS gene therapy on the market due to the anticipation of the limited capacity for the drug introduction. Belgian biopharmaceutical company, UCB, assigned us to understand the current state of the neurosurgical drug injection players and stakeholders and discover which is the current capacity for the CNS Gene Therapy introduction. In this report, we will clarify the main issues for the different players involved in the surgery process. However, we will validate only the constraints with the neurosurgeon's point of view as they are the unique stakeholder on which we will be focused on buse of time constraints, among others. The first part of the report introduces the problem statement of the project, explaining the main research question that is going to be solved: “What are the main constraints and issues for introducing the CNS Gene Therapy from the neurosurgeons' point of view, and how can those issues be resolved?” The second part of the report includes a literature review, that contains the scientific information obtained from the preliminary research. This information is important to understand to conduct meaningful research. Firstly, an introduction of the evolution of the healthcare ecosystem will be given. Next, CNS Gene Therapy will be explained briefly. After the introduction of the gene therapy, the way the drug is delivered to the brain is discussed. Following that, two ways of how performing the surgery are explained and then surgeries that are similar to the CNS Gene therapy injection are introduced. Then the report includes information about diseases that are aimed to be treated by the CNS Gene Therapy – Parkinson and Epilepsy. Engaging in irregularities is severely sanctioned in correspondence with article 64 of the Examination rules. We hereby declare that we have not engaged in any such irregularities. The next chapter of the report is devoted to the methodology of the research. Firstly, research approach of the project is described, indicating that qualitative interpretive science research method is implemented – neurosurgeons will be interviewed to answer the main management problem. Then preliminary research was done, constituting of lectures provided by UCB Coordinator and preliminary interviews with UCB employees. After that patient’s and neurosurgeon’s journey were created for the future research purposes. Then it was important to describe the development of the issue tree, that constitutes the potential issues related to the neurosurgeon’s attitude towards CNS Gene therapy introduction. As for the next step of the methodology, we introduce the patient’s and neurosurgeon’s persona’s that would be used in the development of the screening guide that is used as a sampling strategy to choosing a relevant neurosurgeon for the research. Last parts of the methodology explain the chosen profiles of neurosurgeons that perfectly matched the aim of our project, how the dicussion guide was developed and how we did the focus group for ideas brainstorming. The third part of the report deals with results of the research. First of all, it introduces all the potential issues that neurosurgeons might have towards introduction of the CNS Gene therapy. Then we describe all the results that we received from our main and follow-up unterviews. Finally, we introduced potential recommendations for the UCB company to implement in order to solve the potential capacity problem of the CNS gene therapy introduction. The fourth part of the report is devoted to limitations of the research that we faced during conducting the project.
    • Analyzing and structuring of business opportunities at a Belgian Fintech to gain a competitive edge, with a focus on a mobility solution.

      Duyck, Maarten; Meunier, Sebastien (2021)
      In this research paper we will be analyzing new business opportunities for Monizze, a privately owned company currently offering a platform for companies to supply their employees with extra-legal benefits. The company wants to expand their current product offering and has defined 10 business ideas in the mobility sector that needs further research and analysis to add to their portfolio. The research objective for this paper is to define and select different criteria that can be used by Monizze to go from a broad portfolio of innovative ideas to a focused and clear selection of implementable business solutions. Using different frameworks and applying different research methods we will be coming up with our own methodology to deep dive further into these solutions. We will base our initial approach on the Design Thinking methodology using both primary and secondary research to gain an understanding of the different external and internal factors surrounding the different business ideas. The business ideas will be tested and screened using a scoring matrix that will allow Monizze to gain a holistic overview of the different solutions. The matrix is based around the three lenses of innovation which consist of the desirability from the customer point of view; the feasibility of building and implementing this solution; and lastly the viability of the long term fit with the Monizze business model. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, we will analyze the 10 different solutions by narrowing down the most desirable, viable, and feasible ways to successfully implement the given business opportunities. Each idea is individually analyzed through the matrix to come up with a comparative scoring system. To gain a more accurate and holistic view of each of the different ideas, we applied two ways of screening the final score given by our matrix to accurately narrow down the final selection. In our conclusion we will explore our findings of the matrix and screenings; as well as present the selection of the winning ideas together with the supporting internal and external factors related to each. We will utilize the interviews which we conducted with the clients and management of Monizze to support our findings and find common factors between the scoring analysis and the results. Based on the analysis of the competitive advantages of Monizze and the final results we will make some concrete recommendations for Monizze to further their business opportunities and grow their product offering successfully.
    • Identifying the motivations of commuters to purchase on-road e-scooters from a higher end category in belgium and devising a go-to-market strategy

      Chardon, Aurelien; Poelman, Alexandre; De Muyt, Giel (2021)
      Identifying the motivations of commuters to purchase on-road e-scooters from a higher end category in belgium and devising a go-to-market strategy. Together with the growing urbanisation, the micro-mobility needs have risen throughout the years (EY, 2020). With these needs come multiple solutions with one of them being the e-scooter. Urban citizens can already find those solutions in purchasing, sharing or renting models. However, as Taito's and our competition market research showed, there is an important gap in the premium e-scooter category market. In fact, either being for sharing, purchasing or renting, e-scooter manufacturers do not provide enough safe and reliable solutions for the urban mobility market. As a result, Taito Mobility gave itself the mission of solving e-scooters' problems and providing a premium product available for purchase. In fact, research shows that the e-scooters delivered through sharing models are of low quality, not adapted to the weather and infrastructures and have a short average lifespan (EY, 2020). As a result, businesses providing these do not emphasize the repairs and only substitute used products with new ones. Therefore, providing a solution tackling these problems is something that can be qualified as necessary for urban citizens and urban workers with micro-mobility needs. With Taito's founders expertise in delivering a premium engineered product, the company is able to deliver qualitative, safe and sustainable solutions, all made in Europe. However Taito's founders are well aware of their limitations regarding their marketing expertise. In fact, having a prototype helps them in testing whether the market would embrace their potential product. Nonetheless, once the end product-development step is reached, the company has the ambition of bringing it to the market as soon as possible. Of course, this must not come without a solid strategy. Consequently, the company gave our team the mission of developing a go-to-market strategy for the Belgian e-scooter market. As a result, more specific marketing-related questions came with this broad but critical business challenge. Indeed, before providing Taito with a marketing mix to define the strategic product (and services) attributes, place to distribute, final price to set and understand how to promote it, the market had to be researched. Naturally, this meant understanding and identifying the final buyer personas. As a result, understanding the motivations to buy e-scooters from a higher end category was necessary as it helped us segment audiences. However, we first conducted secondary research followed by primary research. Indeed, we developed a situational analysis as it helped us identify the current industry and market dynamics before deepening our primary research complemented by the secondary information we were able to gather. As we aimed to focus on the consumer market, our primary research consisted of exploratory qualitative research with semi-structured interviews to identify how e-scooters are perceived and whether there were opportunities for high-end e-scooters. Next to that, our quantitative research resulted in 201 respondents. We decided only to use the ones with a strong focus on respondents having an interest in high-end e-scooters. As a result, 188 respondents were used to conduct statistical and analytical analyses in order to identify interesting segments and deliver a robust targeting strategy. As a first recommendation, we would recommend Taito to take the initial perceptions of e-scooters to segment their market. Indeed, segmentation using factor and cluster analyses were also realised on willingness to buy (WTB) high-end product and service attributes but these didn't show significant effects on both the high-end e-scooter willingness to buy (WTB) and net promoting scores (NPS). However, two segments stand out regarding their intentions to buy and promote e-scooters from this specific category. In fact, the first potential target we were able to identify is the segment of the "Riders" (22% of the sample). Indeed, by profiling this segment, results show one potential buyer persona within this specific segment. The "Fun Johnny" target is interesting as e-scooter are attractive to him because of the great riding experiences they provide. Without being barriers to purchase, he also communicates room for improvement regarding current offerings. According to this potential buyer persona, the quality, safety and repair services can be improved and would add value to their purchase. The second interesting segment, the "Adventurous" (28% of our survey sample) is also a potential target segment as they enjoy riding e-scooters too and believe it is both very practical and a great means of transport. By profiling this segment, it resulted in a more older, traditional segment, who showed great intentions to buy and promote high-end e-scooters. One of the potential explanations is the bad visibility, quality and after-sale services they associate and perceive with regular e-scooters. Hence, the first segment being quite young, we would not recommend Taito to put its central efforts in it. Indeed, since their product will stand in the higher-end, premium category, price sensitivity might affect its conversion rates. We would rather recommend Taito to develop its marketing mix and marketing communication strategy towards this "Curious Sophie" target persona. Indeed, the improvement points of regular e-scooters together with the high-end e-scooter WTB and NPS identified within that segment make room for innovative solutions like Taito's. However, a strong positioning strategy is needed. As our results demonstrated a gap in the urban mobility market regarding safe and reliable e-scooters, together with a potential market in this same gap, we would recommend Taito to keep its initial “safe and reliable premium means of transport to commute” positioning. This can be combined with a sustainable positioning as current market trends show. Regarding the product and service attributes Taito could develop, we identified one that seemed to be important to the respondents. Consistently with their initial perceptions, respondents showed that the repair service behind high-end products is very important. Representing the second most important attribute behind price, it shows that the "Mix (DIY & Professional)" attribute where customers could benefit from both do-it-yourself support from the brand to repair small issues by themselves and benefit from professional services for more important issues, is something highly valuable. Furthermore, customization came as the third most important attribute while additional warranty came as last. However, belonging to one of these segmented results (conjoint analysis results were segmented using factor and cluster analysis) do not show significant effects on the belonging of the initial perceptions segments. Therefore, it is important to use these results as indicators of overall product and services attributes to develop and not interpret these as being related to the target segment ("Curious Sophie"). Since the price is something extremely difficult to research, all three pricing research methods were conducted. Indeed, cost-based, competition-based and value-based pricing gave different prices or price ranges. Nonetheless, we were able to identify a price range of potential final prices to set at 1.250 euros - 1.500 euros, with a suggested price of 1.500 euros, VAT included. However, Taito should take this as an indicator to find its optimal price range as it can find other ways of increasing this major profit driver (Tackx, 2019). Of course, it is important that Taito delivers consistency between its pricing and distribution strategy. For their distribution strategy, we suggest that Taito develops both a direct-to-consumer (D2C) approach combined with a retail strategy (B2B2C). In order to deliver these, Taito has the responsibility to choose high-end partners for both their webdesign, e-shop and physical stores as well as for repair and maintenance services. For the repair and maintenance service in the D2C, Taito could either decide to deliver these services by means of traditional retailers as partners or propose innovative solutions of third-parties such as “Cyclofix”, which provides mobile repair services and which could help them in delivering innovative end-to-end solutions. Indeed, with the great modularity of its e-scooter, Taito could add value to its final product. However, our suggested buyer persona would still prefer traditional retailers, hence the importance of delivering these services through more traditional partners as well if possible. Indeed, building sustainable partnerships with retailers to sell its products is important as our suggested buyer persona has more potential of converting through this channel. Again, Taito needs to be careful as the service levels and partnerships have to be consistent with their brand promise. Since our research shows that trials have limited added value in online shopping, Taito should not allocate resources on it. Nonetheless, when having a B2B2C approach, Taito should not overlook this as trials seem to be important for their potential buyer persona. However, return policies are important for both approaches and especially for the D2C. Indeed, it is an essential feature in online shopping for a high quality and high-end positioned product (Li et al., 2013). Furthermore, costs for digital e-commerce and marketing will be quite high, especially in the beginning as they will have to raise awareness and convert. Consequently, customer relationships will be entirely online for D2C while offline relationships can occur via partners. As a result, Taito’s promotion of its product and services should take place both offline and online. In fact, digital advertising and communication are relevant for both segments as brand awareness is built in their zero moment of truth (ZMOT), in other words, when getting more information about, or specifically searching for a solution to their needs. Of course, we recommend doing organic, inbound marketing for both segments while investing in paid advertising on its target persona. Despite being less cost-efficient and having a lower data capturing advantage, offline promotion should not be overlooked as our potential buyer persona revealed itself as being quite traditional in its purchasing behavior. Furthermore, the content of the communication should emphasize the confort, practicality, service, safety with a focus on on-road visibility and the made in Europe aspect of the products. Another important aspect to consider is the omni-channel customer experience Taito aims to provide. Since most consumers are expecting consistent brand experiences both online and offline, Taito should put special emphasis on this aspect. Since the customer experience is the new battleground of brands, Taito could leverage a solid long-term competitive advantage with it. Besides that, premium brands should not provide aggressive discounts as their brand image might be affected. Of course, any go-to-market strategy comes with a roadmap having solid milestones to understand when they should launch. However, since Taito is in its very early stage of development both from a product and strategic point of view, the company is constantly pivoting. When adopting a lean, iterative process, agility is key. In fact, meetings with experts and other stakeholders generated many questions that needed further investigation before launching. For instance, the team is only composed of the 3 founders with two of them currently working on the prototype whilst the supply chain is not yet defined. Hence, their production capacity might be affected, which also limits their capacity to provide sufficient and finalized products to the market. Furthermore, the company has the willingness to launch a crowdfunding project which is not defined either. As a matter of relevancy, we aimed to deliver a strong marketing strategy (segmentation, targeting, positioning and marketing mix) to apply whenever the company and their product are ready to launch. To conclude, this report gives an overview of the high-end e-scooters market with its specificities. High-end e-scooters are very attractive to the target segment because of their practicality and reliability as a commuting tool. Going for a high-end brings additional value to customers with its improved safety and quality. Moreover, the premium experience of having a full repair and maintenance service accompanied with a high-end purchasing experience and communication brings even more added value to the consumers. It is however crucial for Taito to be consistent both with its high-end positioning and with its buyer persona. This means that even if an omnichannel strategy is necessary to fit the needs of the target segment, the whole experience needs to be premium regardless of the channel. By applying these strategic recommendations thoroughly, Taito should be able to reach and convert the right customers for its product.
    • Conceptualising a business community and developing a go-to-market strategy to rejuvenate the brand of a financial-economic magazine.

      Kemel, Jonathan; Coulembier, Josephine (2021)
      Due to issues related to Trends’ current target audience (i.e., male and 45+), image, and churn rate (20%), the need for rejuvenation and a future strategy has never been greater. In this respect, the concept of a Trends Business Club has been put forward. Consequently, the primary objective of this report is to provide an answer to the question related to what a Trends Business Club should entail in order to acquire a younger, more feminine audience as well as to retain their current target audience (i.e., male, 45-64 years old). Moreover, we also examined if there is an interest in such a club, if there is a necessity to build or license a digital community platform and how all of this can be put into practice. As part of the secondary market research, we performed a competitor analysis (i.e., direct competitors, traditional and innovative business clubs, and online communities) as well as research regarding online community building. This has shown us that the aim for a Trends Business Club should be to launch as a smaller innovative business community and to ultimately become the biggest innovative business community in Belgium. Moreover, we found that there is no real benchmark that includes all the different elements a Trends Business Club aims to entail (i.e., education, inspiration, connection and member benefits). With respect to the practice of online community building, there are multiple benefits such as the fact that it boosts professional development. However, there are also certain challenges, especially concerning member engagement. A community manager is crucial in this respect. Furthermore, multiple elements have been listed that can tackle these challenges. As for the primary market research, a mixed method approach was chosen. First, qualitative interviews were conducted among fourteen interviewees (ten belonging to the new target audience, four to the current one). These findings show that, in general, there is a low brand awareness of both Trends magazine and other Trends products. Furthermore, all interviewees were interested in education, inspiration and connection with a focus on business. What’s more, inspiration was identified as the main reason to connect. Regarding connecting with a focus on leisure, the interest was considerably lower. In addition, people seem to prefer financial member benefits and a combination of online and offline connecting. Second, quantitative research by means of a survey was conducted. In total, 285 respondents filled in the survey, belonging to three different samples (i.e., Trends, Vlerick Alumni and convenience). The results support the fact that Trends has a rather low brand awareness, especially considering the younger target audience. Furthermore, by using a list of 33 possible activities, we identified in which type of activities people are most and least interested. For the full sample the top five most popular activities are related to inspiration and education, namely: inspiring company visits, keynote speakers, success and fail stories, webinars and online tools. The top five least favoured activities are related to leisure and benefits, namely: competitions related to charity, relaxing workshops, Trends sport clubs, discounts and competitions to win tickets for relaxing activities. Moreover, in general the respondents are interested in a Trends Business Club and/or know somebody who would be interested in such a concept. Concerning a possible division, the findings state that people who are more interested prefer an inclusive community. Additionally, two buyer personas that represent our target audiences were made based on the data. Next, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are the best social media channels to reach both target audiences. Lastly, a first indication of the willingness to pay was set at a price range between €100 and €200 (full sample). In sum, both the primary and secondary market research indicate that there is a business opportunity to launch a Trends Business Club. In addition, it can also be differentiated enough from other business clubs (traditional and innovative) and give the Trends brand a boost towards a younger, more game changing audience. Regarding the strategy, the main risks and benefits were identified as well as a forecast of the potential profit and loss which shows that the concept would be profitable in a good and realistic situation. Furthermore, as part of the differentiation, strategic exercises show that the Trends Business Club needs to adopt a customer-centric approach, focussing on the following brand values: game changing, innovative, inspirational and educational. Based on all the above mentioned, the concept of a Trends Business Club was further defined. The business community will entail 40 Trends Talk events, 10 big more exclusive events, monthly company visits, educational courses and content, the possibility to connect with like-minded people (online and offline) and member exclusive benefits. The marketing strategy elaborates on the target market (i.e., Flemish professionals) and buyer personas (i.e., Trends Tom and Young Yasmine). Next, the following value proposition was created: “To delight Flemish professionals who are looking for business inspiration, the Trends Business Club offers the opportunity to meet leading figures on a weekly basis, connect with like-minded people and educate yourself, to trigger the change masters of tomorrow to push their boundaries and create sustainable growth, that they prefer because of Trends’ experience, know-how and substantiated content.” In order to incentivise consumers to stay a member as well as to acquire new members through existing ones, a loyalty and referral programme were made. In addition, we also identified how we can reach and trigger consumers through a content and social media strategy. Moreover, the communication campaign consists of two phases (per target audience) and two communication flows. Regarding the current target audience, in phase one not much extra communication is needed, whereas in phase two these people will be notified that they have now become a member of a business community instead of a subscriber to a magazine. With respect to the new target audience, phase one will mainly consist of increasing brand awareness and triggering these consumers by offering an experience package. In phase two, the launch of the Trends Business Club will be communicated at a large scale by use of “Change the Game” ambassadors. In sum, this means that in a first phase there is no need to already develop a community platform as this phase is mainly aimed at increasing brand awareness among the new target audience. In addition, in order to give the management of Roularta Media Group a more complete overview of what a Trends Business Club entails, we already included a first insight regarding possible educational partnerships with the following institutions: University of Hasselt, Antwerp Management School, Vlerick Business School and Belgian Association of Marketing. Furthermore, a partnership concerning member benefits was already set up with Trends Business Information. Lastly, we looked at the necessity of implementing a community platform. In order to do so, we had several meetings with multiple digital agencies and we made a list with business requirements. Although no concrete timing and pricing could be given yet, the price range regarding the development of such a community platform would lie somewhere between €80.000 and €300.000. Finally, a clickable mock-up was made using Figma in order to make a possible Trends Business Club platform more tangible. In general, this study has helped to define and concretise the concept of a Trends Business Club. Notwithstanding its limitations, multiple useful insights were defined as well as a go-to-market strategy. Consequently, we can state that the launch of a Trends Business Club including a community platform would be profitable and relevant to sustain Trends’ future.
    • Travel retail exclusives supply chain: Strategic alignment and process optimization

      Claeys, Mélanie; Esguerra Morales Natalia, Andrea; Houben, Ellen (2018)
      One of the regions within Estée Lauder Companies (ELC), i.e. Travel Retail (TR), currently exhibits strong growth and aims to further accelerate this growth via a product offering exclusive to this channel, i.e. Travel Retail Exclusives (TREX). Often a TREX is a set or kit of multiple products offered at an attractive price. Due to constraints on the speed-to-market and/or the minimum order quantities TREX cannot be produced via the global supply chain process, hence, TR has installed the local kitting process in which certain steps are eliminated or shortened. However, the process is far from optimal and is characterized by misalignment and miscommunication, (time) inefficiencies and forecast and stock issues. The report, which is dived into six subprojects, elaborates on multiple initiatives which will support this acceleration of TREX. The first two subproject mainly focus on steps prior to the process, i.e. a review of the supply chain model and development of a proper decision-making process. The third and fourth subproject focus on the optimization of the process itself and is divided into a general part and a deep dive in the packaging development of a TREX set. Finally, the remaining subproject elaborate on measures that will occur after the process execution, i.e. performance evaluation and continuous improvement. A review of the currently adopted supply chain model, which adheres to a make-to-stock model, demonstrated the lack of responsiveness and agility to respond to the fast changing behavior of end consumers and increasing customization requirements. In order to reach the strategic goals, TR should introduce multiple supply chain models, which are each specific to a particular product, or in this case TREX, category. By examining multiple supply chain models, four TREX specific supply chain models are identified. Next to the existing make-to-stock model, one make-to-order model and two variations on the assemble-to-order model are proposed. To determine the most appropriate use of each model, a set classification method is installed based on whether a set is pushed onto the market by the Marketing team or created due to a retailer request, which implies a customer pull. As the level of customization strongly depends on the driver behind the TREX set ideation, the following four categories were obtained, i.e. the innovative, beauty trend, medium fast/medium customized and a highly customized set. Furthermore, the packaging complexity drives up lead time and is therefore considered to be the second important criterion for this supply chain based classification. The packaging can be either low, medium or high complexity depending on the packaging components as well as the diversity of products that it will contain. Finally, the time allowed to execute the set will impose limitations on the use of certain supply chain models. The combination of all above described insights result in the set classification into different supply chain models, which links a supply chain model to a specific set category and allows to achieve the requested level of responsiveness. The final four supply chain models will include an innovative, fast, medium fast and highly customized track. However, to deploy the models and run them in parallel, several inhibiting factors are encountered. The report provides multiple options, also part of other subprojects, to resolve these shortcomings and enhance the implementation of the classification. The second subproject formalizes the set execution decision-making process among brands via a decision tree and RACI matrix. The decision tree includes five major analysis and/or checks, i.e. a strategic alignment check, a profitability analysis, a production feasibility analysis, concept revision and priority evaluation. While the decision tree clearly outlines the different steps or checks that need to be performed, the RACI matrix maps out who will be involved in the decision associated to it. The RACI matrix will resolve the lack of decision ownership and create visibility on who to contact for support. The third subproject concerns the optimization of the current local kitting process. First, the current process is outlined and its pain points and hurdles are identified. These pain points have been clustered in three main areas, i.e. misalignment, time inefficiencies and forecasting and stock securing stock issues. Within the fourth subproject, an additional split up is made between internal and external processes. The optimization of the internal processes involves three topics, i.e. the standardization of packaging, the realization of a shortened artwork development and the implementation of late stage differentiation. The first topic is achieved by employing the four variety management strategies, i.e. component families, commonalities, product modules and platforms. In order to curtail the timeline of the artwork development (the second topic) solutions are proposed to standardize via the use of an artwork database, speed up the development by employing a TR dedicated photographer and shorten the waiting time for approval by installing ad hoc calls to request artwork approvals rather than emails. Finally, the report discusses three techniques to enable late stage differentiation (the third topic), i.e. DataLase, direct printing and instant foil printing. The last two techniques are already been examined by the global supply chain department and thus provide the highest probability of being implemented. On the other hand, the external improvements are going to be focused in strengthening the relationship with the existing ELC qualified suppliers. In order to do it, are proposed two initiatives. The first one is a TR supplier database for secondary packaging which is going to contain a list of the most common types of packaging needed to procure in order to complete the TREX, the information of the supplier suggested for each commodity and the person inside ELC that can support in the selection process in case that further information is needed. The second one is a supplier challenge that has as main purpose to build up the relation with the strategic suppliers. This is going to be done in three different stages. At the beginning, are going to be selected the key suppliers that can procure the most relevant secondary packaging commodities. After doing this, a phase of alignment between ELC and the strategic vendors is going to allow to look for actions that improve the lead time without affecting the quality. The second stage will be to leverage economies of scale. The results gotten from the variety management strategies are going to be used as inputs to start developing standardized packaging with the strategic suppliers. The last stage will be to boost innovation via the suppliers. As they are the experts in the packaging industry, the suppliers can be a resource to develop creative solutions to challenges that TR could be facing in this field in the future. The fifth and sixth subprojects are going to allow the review of the TREX. The fifth subproject is the creation of a dashboard that will provide at-a-glance visibility of key supply chain metrics and KPIs to track the performance of the TREX by brand, category, and retailer. The scope of the last subproject will be to enhance continuous improvement. It provides options like the realization of Kaizen events to solve or improve tasks (e.g forecast issues and set classification), initiatives of open innovation to allow people outside the CoE to participate in the streamlining of the packaging, and defined tasks for the CoE team related to continuous improvement.
    • Understanding the van tire market in a fast changing environment: Who’s driving the volumes?!

      Teixeira Bemba, Magalie Tema; Meex, Wouter (2018)
      The project was triggered by the fact that over the past two years Continental Belux has a growing market share, which even outperformed their market share on the car tyre market, within the van tyre segment. Although this is a relatively small market compared to the entire tyre market, the question came how this came to be and how to remain with this high market share. The objectives of this project were: 1. develop a deep understanding of all internal and external parameters influencing our current sales performance in VAN tyres 2. analyse the results of your field survey among our B2B customer base in order to build insights in their way to market VAN tyres. 3. create a roadmap including recommendations on how to further develop and reinforce our VAN tyre sales position in future 4. define a list of KPI's relevant for future sales performance in VAN tyres for each of the distribution channels In order to be able to respond to this question the internal sales data, as well as pool sales information were studied. Furthermore, interviews with both various types of tyre replacement centers (27 in total) and fleets (2 interviews) were conducted. Moreover a trend analysis with regards to parcel delivery (as large fleets of vans are used for this end) and general trends with regards to automotive and van in specific has been done. To define a clear strategy, which is customer intimacy, we used the framework designed by Treacy and Wiersema. In order to put this into concrete actions for Continental Belux the Balanced Scorecard method was used. In order to remain and ultimately increase their market share, several recommendations are proposed and can be summarized as following. Continental Belux should become even more customer intimate as currently is the case by conducting surveys and gathering data on preferences and needs of their customers. Continental Belux should strive to get the desired consistent quality from Continental AG to be able to provide a consistent quality. Moreover, further innovation regarding the EU label and fuel efficiency will help cater for the needs of bigger customers. As a result of the analysis of the above mentioned studied data and trends, the following KPI's have been developed: Customer intimacy Existing customers 1. Low number of complaints in terms of sales 2. Number of surveys conducted with customers regarding needs and quality perception a. 100% of customers every 6 months 3. Provision of monthly updates on back orders 4. Follow up within week on further process regarding a complaint 5. At least one visit per month by a person of Continental Belux to customer's location 6. 20% of customers (within each channel) has a tailor-made profile through an automated system Lost customers 1. Follow-up within a month after not buying according to historical behavior Customers acquisition 1. Monthly update of potential new customers Marketing 1. Yearly update on OE booklet and "Umbereifung" 2. Yearly update on van registrations 3. Yearly forecasting meetings based on OE booklet, Umbereifung and vans registration to allow for better anticipation of future tyres demand Products 1. Provide quarterly updates on range coverage by Continental
    • How semantic searching can improve ROI of pharmaceutical projects

      Louage, Benoit; Blancquaert, Tarquin; Hougen, Trevor (2018)
      As part of our Master in Financial Management program at Vlerick Business School (Belgium) we - Dr. Benoit Louage, Trevor Hougen and Tarquin Blancquaert - had the opportunity to perform an In-Company Project on behalf of ONTOFORCE. ONTOFORCE is a young company developing a data analytics platform for application in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, named DISQOVER. By way of its semantic search technology, the database/platform seeks to maintain all individual forms of research-relevant data under one scalable cloud architecture. Overall, this report highlights the disruptive potential of 'Big Data' and semantic search technology for the pharmaceutical industry. As the latter is currently still experiencing a decline in R&D productivity, several strategies should be investigated in order to improve the drug development processing. Our main objective was to quantify the impact of (linked) data on R&D processes of Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies. More precisely we had to quantify the potential of ONTOFORCE's semantic search platform DISQOVER within R&D processes. Eventually we came up with a valuation model, which calculates the ROI (return on investment) and 'Wins per Day' of the DISQOVER platform towards its users. After conducting extensive research and interviewing many experts within the field, we believe that the model we created is well-thought-out and the assumptions are substantiated by expert opinions and academic literature. In addition, the model is highly flexible, providing the opportunity for users to fill in their own input regarding R&D, financial and market assumptions. In conclusion, the results of this project were positive, quantifiable and derivable, which was especially important considering the original objectives of the project. Considering these results, it is safe to note that the outcomes of quantifying ROI and 'Wins per Day' were attained with supportable assumptions. Our results are clearly reflecting the high potential of the platform. It should be noted that these results are still preliminary outcomes. Further integration of this tool by pharmaceutical companies' R&D projects will allow rendering the model outcomes more accurate as the latter will increasingly provide real company-originated input data (e.g. cycle time reductions). It is noteworthy that during our research we encountered two major future opportunities that would further lift the DISQOVER platform to a higher level. Firstly, there was a clear demand for a platform that starts to learn the user's movements and begins to recommend searches and bring relevant information to the reader through understanding of the searching behaviour. The truly valuable databases such as DISQOVER are those that can, besides allowing the user to search information, also send relevant information to the user based on its searching pattern and interests. In this way the user stays up-to-date at any time and can immediately anticipate on progresses made in the field. Secondly, further insights lent to us are that the ability of the platform to connect institutional knowledge based on clinical trial population would also be key, in order to pre-determine relevant populations for clinical trials, which is very time consuming. Finally, we would like to mention that throughout our project we could at any time rely on the best assistance from Hans Constandt (CEO and founder of ONTOFORCE) and Dr. Filip Pattyn (Scientific Lead at ONTOFORCE), and the knowledge of Walter Van Dyck (Associate Professor and Partner at Vlerick Business School). For this, we are very grateful towards them. Despite some difficulties we came across, we look back on the project as being very challenging and instructive, resulting in a very satisfying final result.
    • The improvement of the matchmaking process of different stakeholders within biotech clusters through semantic data search

      Shi, Shenzhi; Teerlinck, Maxim (2018)
      ONTOFORCE is a fast-growing scale-up that started developing a data integration and visual analytics platform focusing on Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies. As the platform is currently mainly used by researchers in Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies, ONTOFORCE wanted to expand its scope. By creating a platform focused on the corporate side of life science companies, a convenient tool could be created for a broad range of different customer segments. In order to create this new platform, an in-depth analysis of the potential market and their corresponding necessities were required. Obtaining a clear view of the way of working of every single segment as well as understanding the available tools and their use cases were required to obtain insights in the industry. As soon as we had developed market perception, we could determine the specific segments in the market which could be worthwhile to investigate. Soon it became clear that European Biotech clusters are remarkably closed entities, yet, possess extreme valuable information. Even though almost every cluster agree that a close inter-cluster collaboration would be beneficial for both the clusters as well as the members of clusters, few were willing to completely open up their obtained market insights. As a result, this report suggests serving the clusters as a channel to provide ONTOFORCE with the relevant customer profiles. One of the customer segments that originated out of the analysis of the European Biotech clusters, were the investors. More specifically, Venture Capital firms, as these entities play an important role in the financing of early-stage Biotechnology startups. Albeit, we anticipated a tremendous enthusiasm of these investors for the DISQOVER platform, the opinions were rather divided. However, both the literature as our interview results concluded that the Technology and Management team are the most important parameters in the deal assessment of investors. The third customer segment we investigated are the Big Pharmaceutical companies which seem to require the assistance of semantic data search more for their licensing than M&A activities. Consequently, these entities are interested in using the DISQOVER platform only if ONTOFORCE is able to include a comprehensive overview of the competitive landscape. However, this customer segment would be of major importance as they have a lot of resources devoted on research and evaluation which means they would be willing to pay whatever it takes to reduce their research time. Finally, Technology Transfer Offices are another interesting customer segment, as these entities stressed their need for using kind like platforms. However, one needs to take in account that TTOs are generally government funded and consequently mainly have financial constraints. However, including information of TTOs in the platform would be create a major added value for all the different users of the platform. As such, one could argue to reduce the fee TTOs would have to pay for their subscription. To conclude our project, we came up with three main recommendations which could be considered for the further course of creating the new DISQOVER platform. We suggest ONTOFORCE to appear the Biotech clusters as a sales channel in order to reach out to the different customer segments such as Biotech Venture Capitalists, Big Pharmaceutical companies and Tech Transfer Offices. Besides, ONTOFORCE needs to exploit the capabilities of semantic technology in order to create a clear visualization of the competitive landscape within the life science industry. Finally, we recommend utilizing a crowd-sourced data collection technique, which requires the users to create a personal profile, in order to gather clusters' private information.
    • Spicing up the Rwandan chili industry: From mapping the market to ensuring a sustainable future for smallholder farmers

      Demaerschalk, Emmeline; De Schrijver, Laurence; Moreau, Nicolas (2018)
      Background and aim - Situation - Inclusive Trading Group BV (ITG BV), a Dutch social enterprise, asked to conduct market research for its daughter company Spices Rwanda Ltd. This new venture aims at generating a fair income for smallholder farmers, through the production of bird's eye chili pepper (BEC). In this regard, ITG BV wishes to establish a short value chain as to maximise profits for famers. Problem - The bird's eye chili market forms a niche market with little transparency. As such, it is difficult to identify relevant buyers/partners. This circumstance, combined with an important price drop in the past years, makes it difficult for Spices Rwanda Ltd. to sell their production. In addition, ITG BV seeks sustainable partnerships to cut middlemen and hence shorten the value chain. Aim - The market research first aims at mapping the BEC market, as to identify potential buyers. Second, it explores processing alternatives, certifications, new markets and differentiation opportunities. In turn, these lead to a recommendation on how Spices Rwanda Ltd. should operate in the coming years. Methodology - Data collection - Faced with a lack of secondary data, we apply an explorative approach to map the BEC market. This consists of 1) qualitative in-depth interviews with key players from the spice industry and 2) observations during fieldwork in Rwanda. Data analysis - The analysis first addresses external factors related to the BEC market. We explore its value chain (BEC from field to fork), apply a Five Forces analysis (competitive environment) and finally identify price evolutions and demand. Second, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of Spices Rwanda Ltd. when operating in the BEC sector. A SWOT analysis and internal value chain serve this purpose. Data Strategy - We translate the collected data into a determination matrix. This serves to map all possible strategies for Spices Rwanda Ltd. and extract the five most viable ones. Finally, we present a dynamic action plan for Spices Rwanda Ltd.'s future operations. Results - First, we examine the conventional export of dried BEC to Europe. Our results highlight a niche market, with a yearly estimated volume of 1000 ton worldwide. Consequently, BEC often comprises only a small chunk of an importer's portfolio. Besides, prices in the BEC market are volatile as the supply heavily relies on weather conditions. We estimate the current market price at €3 to €4, and expect it to remain stable due to large stocks in Europe. This implies an even lower demand at the moment. Second, whether or not Spices Rwanda Ltd. should continue its activities in exporting dried BEC to Europe or switch its strategy, depends on the attractiveness of alternative options. To step away from this commodity export, the company could process BEC themselves, obtain certifications or export to different markets. In terms of processing BEC, we deem a partnership with existing producers more fruitful than an own production. Considering certification, our investigation shows they will not provide an important competitive advantage, yet Spice Rwanda Ltd. should obtain HACCP (food safety) and GAP (traceability) as soon as possible, since buyers expect these. Moreover, the element of sustainability appears as "nice to have", rather than "need to have". As it yields little competitive advantage, we do not recommend a Fairtrade or organic label at this stage. Looking at different export destinations in Europe, we singled the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands as potential buyers. In addition, we outline the need for differentiation in the form of an additional cash crop. Here, we advise a pilot project with the Habanero chili, as well as research on other suitable crops. Conclusion - Our dynamic roadmap defines future action points for Spices Rwanda Ltd. On short, medium and long-term. First, the company should maintain its existing BEC production and seek partnerships with local processors. Second, differentiation is required and a new cash crop should be introduced (cf. Habanero). Finally, Spices Rwanda Ltd. should focus on supporting activities (certifications, irrigation systems) to sustain its future operations and remain attractive towards buyers. Combined, these recommendations should help to avoid a commodity export of dried BEC and create new opportunities. In turn, we hope these will lead to a more stable, recurring income for the company's farmers
    • Sourcing in the promotional-wear industry: Assessing the feasibility of production in Central America

      Crede, Christopher; Ruiz Lopez, Diana Carolina (2018)
      The aim of this report is to provide an overview of the textile and apparel industry in Central America and the Caribbean on a country-by-country basis, as well as identify manufacturers that show potential as future garment suppliers for B&C. The report answers two key questions: Firstly, what countries in the region are an attractive destination for promotional wear manufacturing, and secondly, what suppliers could be contacted in the near future for further negotiations. The analysis focused on identifying sourcing opportunities for the 2 primary product categories, or "runners", in the promotional wear garment catalogue of B&C. These are 100% Cotton knit t-shirts, and 100% Cotton knit polo shirts. The analysis focuses on three stages. First, regional countries are evaluated on the basis of their existing production of cotton t-shirts and polo shirts; the average price per unit according to custom declarations in the EU and US; access to tariff exemptions; and competitor presence. Secondly, a comprehensive overview was conducted on the political, economic, and business environment of the shortlisted countries whilst also paying close attention to the logistics & infrastructure capabilities, trade deal implications, and the state of the local textile and apparel industry. To conduct the analysis of each country, data was gathered from industry reports, government agencies, trade associations, and various international agencies that specialise in economic and sector-specific data. Countries were ranked accordingly. The third stage of analysis focused on the evaluation of manufacturers in the region. Data was obtained from company websites, company profiles, and industry reports that were publicly available online. Structured, but open-ended telephonic interviews were conducted with suppliers to further evaluate their potential. Questions were structured to obtain further information on theoretical capacity, pricing, production lead times, yarn quality, tubular production capacity, and quality certifications. The results indicated that of the 9 regional countries, Guatemala and Costa Rica were not considered feasible destinations for promotional wear manufacturing due to low production volumes, high prices, and a focus on value-added apparel manufacturing. Further analysis of the 7 remaining countries indicated that Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras remain the most attractive sourcing destinations for low-cost apparel. Haiti offers the cheapest labour but strategically, it should be considered together with the Dominican Republic as its neighbour is the source of fabrics for many of the CMT factories in Haiti. The supplier analysis yielded minimal insights into the criteria considered as most manufacturers were hesitant to share detailed information on their production profiles without receiving the product specifications from B&C. subsequently, the results provide a high-level overview of potential suppliers based on theoretical production capacities greater than 500'000 pieces per month. A list of 23 potential manufacturers across the region were listed. As expected, the majority of these manufacturers have sites in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti. While the analysis indicated 3 potential countries as destinations in Central America for promotional wear sourcing, the study faced certain limitations. Time constraints; language barriers; the inability to conduct interviews face-to-face with suppliers in the region; a resistance to share more in-depth information pertaining to manufacturers' operational set-up, volumes, pricing, and available capacity; and failure by manufacturers to respond within the allotted time-period of the study have compromised the quality of the data gathered. Due to the sensitive nature of the technical specification packs for each of the 3 products included in this study, it was not possible to share this information with manufacturers to obtain further details on their target pricing, volumes, and production lead times. As a result, the analysis could not make supplier-specific recommendations. Future studies on sourcing opportunities in the region should consider country visits to gain more detailed insights into the regions potential as an alternative to existing Asian manufacturing countries.
    • Selling medical devices in a digital age: Complementing face-to-face interaction with a multi-channel marketing strategy

      Broos, Anouk; Declerck, Bénédicte; Vanmaele, Willemijn (2018)
      Background and aim: Mitek, the sports medicine franchise of DePuy Synthes, and a subsidiary of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Device Companies (JJMDC), is currently facing some challenges. The competition is growing and the brand image is deteriorating. Due to a single-channel engagement model, being the face-to-face interaction between a Mitek sales representative and the orthopaedic surgeon, various undifferentiated accounts are being underserved. In addition to the single-channel engagement model, the decrease in sales force results in declined sales revenues for Mitek. This increases the need for different measures, including a multi-channel marking strategy to sell medical devices in the six countries in scope: Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland and The Netherlands. This In-Company Project (ICP) aimed to evaluate the current sales and marketing practices related to Mitek and, based upon both qualitative and quantitative research, formulate recommendations in the form of a customer journey that targets the right orthopaedic surgeon through his/her preferred communication channels with desired content. Methodology: An internal and external customer desk research and a channel-content mapping have been performed in order to map the current practices within Mitek. These practices were measured against the desired requirements of the customer, the orthopaedic surgeon. These requirements could be identified by performing a combination of a literature review and both qualitative and quantitative research. Hereof, firstly, some best practices resulted from the literature review. Secondly, the qualitative research involved extended interviews (n=15) with orthopaedists. Finally, an online survey (n=122) was conducted, which provided data that could be analysed. The derived requirements were identified on a persona basis. The foundation upon which the personas were identified, were also derived from the data analysis. Results: The personas were built based upon their communication preference with the medical device company: face-to-face (the “Traditional” orthopaedist), digital (the “Digi” orthopaedist) or a combination of face-to-face and digital (the “Multi” orthopaedist). Overall, significant increases in desired use of mobile app, real-life training, scientific webcast and remote interaction with a sales representative were found. Further analysis showed the top three preferred channels per persona. These are: sales representative – face-to-face (85%), email (55%) and real-life training (46%) for the “Traditional” (n=33), email (71%), mobile-app (64%) and real-life training (43%) for the “Digi” (n=14) and email (59%), mobile-app (58%) and sales representative – face-to-face (57%) for the “Multi” (n=85). Taken together these overall increases in desired channels, the top three channels per persona and the results of the qualitative research, three customer journeys could be designed. This journey comprises several stages, each incorporated with specific channels in order to allow orthopaedic surgeons to satisfy their needs and reach their goals. The content of these channels should offer informational and educational content, for the most part. Conclusion: Each orthopaedist should be approached by the medical device company in a personal, tailored way via the surgeon’s preferred channel. In order to do so, it is highly recommended to use the three developed customer journeys for each type of persona. Furthermore, a cohesive Mitek brand conversation is needed to be able to tell the company’s story via these channels. Finally, there is some room for more measures within Mitek’s marketing strategy, therefore, some future perspectives were given in this research paper.
    • Set up of a new investment fund

      Kullau, Mariglen; Habek, Luka (2018)
      The report provides a critical assessment and proposals for the set-up of a new impact Investment Fund, COOPEST2. The fund will leverage on the positive performance of the 1st fund, (COOPEST which is due in 2023), and diversify its portfolio and investment products to achieve greater performance, higher returns for investors and significant social impact which remains intake in Inpulse’s DNA. The investment strategy follows a more qualitative approach during the 1st phase of the research, followed by quantitative inputs to build on the business model with the necessary assumptions to arrive at best investment decisions. At first, the research focuses on the sector analysis and countries’ snapshot. This is an essential part of the research as the key findings will be fundamental drivers on the areas that the fund will eventually invest. The political and macroeconomic outlook; the currency risk; the ease of doing business in each region; the historical returns of the sectors and all the advantages and disadvantages were some of the parameters that were considered to reach the final investment decision. The business model of the fund is a key part of the project as it will serve investment decisions not only during the set-up of the fund but also during the next years. The model shows the link between the key parameters and their impact in case a different decision should take place in the future. For instance, a change in the hedging costs of the foreign currency will indicate the exact amount the financial intermediaries have to bear and eventually the interest rate that COOPEST2 will demand for providing a certain amount of investment. The management team decided to focus on one product of financing, which is through debt/loans number of specific sectors and a specific region to invest and keep a lower proportion for sub-ordinated debt and/or equity financing. This is mainly due to two main reasons: 1) they can leverage on the experience of COOPEST in debt financing, from the network of investors and financial institutions to investment returns and attracting the right investors 2) Helenos is another Equity Fund under Inpulse management and would be a direct competitor for specific investment decisions so it was carefully analyzed and suggested not to proceed with equity financing. There are certain parameters that must be precisely evaluated by the management team. The size of the fund, the ticket size of loans, areas of further diversification and entrance are some of the examples that will play a key role for the Fund. With the continuous support of the Inpulse Team and our project supervisor, we managed to provide the management team with a thorough analysis of each sector and regions on where to invest while the business model will enable the team to assess precisely the impact of each decision in their investment process. We are sure that with this in-depth research and all the details for every parameter, the team will make the right decisions to continue its successful investments and achieve greater results. It remains to be seen when exactly the success story of this fund will commence.
    • Stakeholder mapping and recommendations to increase the HPV vaccination coverage rate in Wallonia

      De Spiegeleire, Victor; Jennes, Laura (2018)
      The vaccination coverage rate in Wallonia is 36%, this is relatively low compared to the neighboring countries. This number hasn't also improved drastically since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the vaccination program, when the coverage rate was 30%. It shows that there is a systematic problem with the HPV vaccination. This research will provide insights in the stakeholders mapping and their problems. Consequently, the report will provide recommendations to counter the problems and eventually increase the vaccination coverage rate. In order to reach this objective, in-­depth interviews were conducted with different stakeholders. Additionally, a comparison with a different vaccine and with foreign vaccination systems was in to determine order good and bad practices. The stakeholder map identified the involved parties in the FWB vaccination system and their mutual relationships. The vaccination system is organised in an unreasonably complex way, even the internal organisation of certain stakeholders are fairly complex. The school vaccinators, a crucial stakeholder in the national immunisation program, are remarkably enough not all organised and subsidised in the same way, with as a result that the problems and solutions are very diverse. There is no one fits all solution. The school vaccinator mainly experiences difficulties in recruiting qualified staff. As a result, they cannot efficiently organize the vaccination. The supervising body L'ONE can support school vaccinators in their mission, but their capacity to intervene in the organization of the school vaccinators centers is limited. This body has limited means to incentivize the school vaccinators to vaccinate against HPV. The student who is not vaccinated through the school program should be able to go to her HCP for information concerning HPV and the administration of the free vaccine. However, some HCPs are experiencing difficulties in ordering these free vaccines via e-­vax and/or are not fully informed on the newest vaccines and trends concerning HPV. The low vaccination coverage can not only be attributed to organizational or budgetary issues, but there are also attitude problems. Parents and children are often very reluctant to HPV vaccination since the vaccine protects against an STD and that is still taboo at that age. This means that the vaccination moment chosen by the FWB is not ideal.
    • Scaling up a Chinese online travel platform in the European market: Business development strategy for Germany, Spain and the UK

      Roex, Gitte; Van De Sompel, Matthias; Verwimp, Lien (2018)
      Scaling up to more than 3000 spots by the end of 2018. That is what Shake To Win (STW) has been working towards since its inception in January 2017, with a mission to preserve culture by leveraging technology. The WeChat-based app for Chinese free, independent travellers currently showcases local, authentic spots in more than 75 European cities, and provides attractive incentives for its users who are in search of a more cultural European experience. However, the company is facing an uphill challenge, as their competition is intense, with many considerably-sized players all fighting to attract the same partners and users onto their platforms. To survive in this crowded, fast-paced environment, it is therefore crucial that companies like STW
    • Set up a consulting activity to help companies electrifying their fleet

      Beenkens, Gilles; Houtart, Loïc (2018)
      In a society where all our habits and rituals are changing as fast as ever, the evolution of mobility is as fascinating as unpredictable. Autonomous vehicles are on everyone’s lips, the increasing prices of oil keep worrying every household worldwide, company cars are a central topic in almost every company, alternative sources of energy are an inspiration for people that care about their environmental footprint and the use of individual cars is more than ever being challenged by interesting substitutes such as public transportation, ebikes and car-sharing. It is in this regard that Lampiris, a Walloon energy provider owned by Total S.A., is looking to settle on the market of electric vehicles. This report, conducted in the scope of an In-Company project by two students of the Vlerick Business School, has as objective to give an answer to whether and how Lampiris could have a role to play in the development of a service related to setting up a fleet electrification plan. Having set up its own plan aiming to have a fully electrified fleet of vehicles by 2021, the Belgian company possesses the necessary level of expertise, and is now fully ready to support other companies in the switch towards electric. Additionally, the financial and infrastructural support from parent company Total ensures a sense of reliability and trust, allowing Lampiris to build upon it. In order to reach the fixed objectives, twenty interviews with fleet managers, CEOs, EV and mobility experts have been conducted and based on these as well as on some extensive research, two business models are proposed and fully developed in this report. The development of these business models has strongly been influenced by the actual state of the market of electric vehicles. The main observation done through the research is how much people try to convince themselves neither them nor the market are ready to embrace electric mobility. However, the market proves everyone wrong as anyone willing and motivated to go electric can already do so today as models of electric vehicles are invading the markets and charging infrastructure is getting installed at several strategic spots. This report thus presents two business models that Lampiris should focus on to establish itself as expert and leader on the market. The first business model is fully related to supporting companies with their fleet electrification plan and represents the biggest market. The second solution has been developed with the objective to serve another customer segment, allowing owners of public parking to invest in the installation of charging infrastructure in order to attract the community of electric vehicles to their facilities. Both solutions follow the same angle of approach and have some common goals, namely clarifying the many uncertainties that compose the electric market today, as well as raising awareness about why electric is a good and positive solution for everyone. This will be done through the creation of an online platform based on the freemium model. E-learning, test-drives, specific tools, surveys and decision trees and general information are the main elements that are to be found on the platform. Whenever a company gets interested in including electric to its fleet or services, it reaches out to Lampiris and both parties get to work, starting with a meeting between the concerned parties. It is all about planning, discussing what has to be put in place, and this for both business models. Step three is about the activation of the plan, focusing more on the how and on finalizing the last details of the plan. The fourth and last phase is the full execution of the plan, namely the purely operational part. As it is the last step of our business models, full maintenance and continuous follow-up are essential in order to ensure a longlasting relationship. Both solutions tend to be complementary. Having a similar structure with some similar focus points, like the online platform, they both got created starting off from totally different questions and focus on distinct customer segments. Offering both services will allow Lampiris to broaden its angle of approach and to cover more needs and a larger demand, while developing the solutions simultaneously and similarly. The services that are to be launched are considered as viable and highly profitable. If they were launched individually they would break-even after a couple of months. The break-even point is to be reached even faster if both models were launched together, as initial costs may be cut thanks to possible combinations in marketing and the creation of the e-learning platform. Lampiris has to be aware that starting such a business represents very low risk. Some serious effort is required, but the initial investment is relatively low, as it mainly consists of the creation of the e-learning platforms and the marketing and advertising costs. It is obvious that to some extent, Lampiris is depending on the development of the market, as it is waiting for manufacturers to offer new and better models, for batteries to have better autonomy and for the infrastructure to further expand, in order to be able to counter the fears and uncertainties of critics. However, by offering these services, Lampiris not only tries to seize the opportunity the electric market offers, but it wants to be a main actor in the development of the market itself by pushing, but especially guiding people towards electric. However, mobility today is much more than only electric as one is fully aware of how much mobility is about to change in the next decade. Even though experts, surveys and studies all go in opposite directions, the consensus on the impact it will have on our daily lives is easily reached. Therefore, Lampiris has to be more than ever aware that electric vehicles are only a first step towards a better mobility, but that other components like e-bikes, car sharing, and public transportation are part of it. It is up to Lampiris to include these features in the fleet electrification plans, as well as to build smart charging points that will be able to embrace autonomous vehicles as soon as these will start invading our markets.
    • Revision of the current and implementation of a new business model, optimization of the production and processing and development of a marketing plan for a quinoa-exporting start-up in Peru

      Swyngedouw, Ina; Van Hoofstadt, Evelien; Vermunicht, Eva (2018)
      This paper is written by Eva, Evelien and Ina and realised by Vlerick Business School and Solid Food. The objectives of the project are to improve the business model, costs structure and marketing strategy of Solid Food. The quinoa market, production and processing have been examined in detail, based on an extensive market study, observations and interviews. The start-up Solid Food is a vertically integrated organization that exist of the two entities Solid Food Peru and Solid Food Europe. Solid Food Peru has control over the production, processing and export of the high-quality crops on the highlands of Ayacucho while the entity Solid Food Europe offers services to European customers. This vertical integration ensures a sustainable cooperation model. Solid Food has a lot of growth opportunities but a revision of their business model is needed in order to stay competitive. First of all, the company faces a lot of challenges in keeping their farmers loyal as there is a lot of competition due to other buyers in the area. Secondly, Solid Food has to buy their complete sales volume for a year in a short period of two months (during harvest) which requires the availability of a lot of cash. We looked into opportunities to improve or change the current business models in order to resolve these challenges. Proposed changes or additions to the existing business of Solid Food: Improvements in the current business model Two options are possible for only minimally changing the current business model so it can be implemented in the short term. The first option is to improve the current model by spreading the costs of buying quinoa more over time. Usually, there is still some quinoa available in the months after the harvest. Depending on the amount of harvest that is still left, prices might be lower in this period. Caution is, however, necessary as there might also be not enough yield left, resulting in higher prices. The second option is to work with farmers further away from Ayacucho, who are often more loyal. However, this will be a more expensive (longer distances, more time) and temporary solution (competition will move to these regions as well).Prefinancing By implementing a system of prefinancing, farmers receive their main inputs for the production of quinoa from Solid Food. This relieves the financial pressure on the farmers and they will not need to look for loans to finance the production. Therefore, it will increase the loyalty and reduce side-selling of the farmers. The costs of Solid Food are more spread over time as they have to finance the inputs during the year. The cost for the prefinancing is passed on to the farmers in the final prices offered to them after harvest. Own production fields Here we propose Solid Food to rent its own production fields to provide a minimal stock margin of quinoa. This is a challenging task as agricultural grounds around Ayacucho are hard to find and widely scattered. Furthermore, it will not be easy to find farmers willing to work for them. Own production fields are more expensive than farmers cultivating quinoa independently because Solid Food needs to hire an extra assessor, hire own workforces, pay the transport to the fields, give the employees some additional incentives to motivate them, etc. It is however very interesting to set this up on a limited scale, as it is an interesting opportunity to improve production and to have total control over the production process. Solid Prime Solid Prime is mainly based on rewarding loyal farmers and disincentivising disloyal farmers. The quinoa producers pay a small fee at the beginning of the campaign to receive additional help from Solid Food in the production of their quinoa. After this project is set up with a small number of farmers, we do believe other farmers will see the benefits and will also want to join and subscribe for Solid Prime. The main objective of this model is to make farmers more loyal to Solid Food and avoid side-selling. Farmers want to recuperate the fee they had to pay and this is only possible by selling their yield to Solid Food during the harvest. Forward contracts This is a long-term vision for when market prices are more stable and Solid Food has strengthened the relationship with the farmers. Forward contracts enable Solid Food to make agreements on the buying price with the farmers at the beginning of the campaign. The agreed price will be paid to the producer at the beginning of the season so they have sufficient cash to finance the production of their quinoa. However, the price per kilogram will be slightly lower than the expected market price. Farmers see the early cash as an advantage and are therefore open to receive a slightly lower price for their quinoa. Solid Food is in this way able to slightly reduce the high costs of buying the raw material. The next problem for Solid Food is the high final price of their quinoa compared to other companies in the market. The cost structure is analysed and there is looked for ways to reduce these in order to lower prices and stay competitive. The purchase of raw quinoa represents 70% of the total cost price of the quinoa. As prices are mainly set by the big players in the market, Solid Food has little power to change these. Alternatively, methods to improve the yield on the production field are investigated. With these methods (like the use of a small sowing tool) farmers are expected to be able to produce more and therefore sell and earn more. A system to divide these benefits between the farmers and Solid Food helps to reduce the cost of the raw material. The second biggest cost of the quinoa production is the processing. In order to reduce this cost, it is investigated how waste can be reduced and hence efficiency increased. There are few options to change the machines at the fully automated processing plant and the investment in better machines is currently too expensive for the young company. Smaller measures (like setting a minimum processing quantity) can be taken to improve the efficiency on the short-term. The last topic that is currently important for Solid Food is marketing and customer relationships. In order to grow, Solid Food has to gain market recognition. Both its direct and end customers have to get to know the brand and where it stands for: high-quality and sustainable quinoa with a social dimension. Therefore, Solid Food should start working with a CRM program to reach a wide public that might be interested in the quinoa. Secondly, a QR code can be introduced to differentiate and share the mission and vision of the company. Lastly, the introduction of a private label might spark brand recognition. Next to marketing, it is essential to make customers engaged to the brand. The company should not only be passionate about its quinoa but also about their customer. By being the middleman and making a direct collaboration between the customers and the farmers, Solid Food can make both parties more loyal.