Final Signal – Looking back and looking forward

Photo: Bhai

As the Platform Value Now project comes to a close, this final Signal post looks back at the development of the platform economy and discusses its further development. Over the past six years, we conducted horizon scanning to look for “weak signals” about possible future trends with the platform economy and then wrote Signal posts (66 of them in total) summarising those weak signals to help raise awareness about the platform economy in Finland.

Not every weak signal and prediction came to fruition, but many did. Below we discuss those predictions for some of the key areas of the platform economy and look forward to the future at what might be next in the digital platform economy by discussing some of the most recent developments. We would like to encourage all our readers to think about what kind of platform economy we want to have in the future. How can the platform economy add to people’s happiness and wellbeing? What are the challenges that we would like to tackle with the aid of platforms and what kind of stance do we want to take regarding the ethical issues of the platform economy?

Platform Business Strategies

Platform strategies originally gained attention because of the spectacular growth and performance many of the platform companies had attained. Now, the largest consumer-facing platforms, such as Alibaba and the group known as FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) have dominated “traditional” businesses and are among the most highly valued companies on the planet. Early on, platform strategies were exemplified by two-sided or multi-sided markets. Such a market has two or more user groups, usually the consumer side and the producer side of the market, with the platform connecting them. What is essential for the platform to grow is the positive network effects in the system. They are created as the different user groups benefit from interacting with each other through the platform. The creation of a successful platform business is not an easy task. Although the most valuable companies utilize platform strategies and platforms are extremely popular among entrepreneurs and private investors, many platforms lose money. At the same time, platforms are emerging “everywhere” and companies in every sector should consider their strategy and role in relation to platforms.

There has been a lot of discussion about whether platform business strategies are different in the Business-to-Business (B2B) realm than with Business-to-Consumer (B2C) business models. The number of customers is typically far smaller while the value of each customer relationship is much higher in the B2B sector than in the B2C sector. Strategies of consumer-facing platforms are often based on utilizing consumer data, but companies as a user group of a platform often have a much stricter attitude towards sharing their data than consumers do. However, platforms are disrupting B2B industries as many companies are building out digital platform ecosystems to strengthen their interconnections with other organizations and their customers. They are also incorporating digital platforms built around Artificial Intelligence, robotics, “anything” as a service (XaaS), smart sensors, communication/collaboration, distributed ledger, etc. into their operations.

An important question for Finland is to identify the most promising sectors for Finland to focus on when developing platform businesses. The signal posts do not give a direct answer to this question, but they show small glimpses of what is happening in specific sectors. We have signal posts addressing sectors such as agriculture, logistics, manufacturing, smart city, recycling, marketing, banking, food, forestry, gaming, health, and fitness. Transport, government, and education have all been discussed in several signal posts. Further, the experiences of Finnish companies are highlighted in a Platform Value Now study that was conducted to explore how Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the platform economy. The study was based on interviews conducted in Finland and the USA in 2019 with companies from various business sectors such as food, pulp and paper, manufacturing and security.

Innovation Policy for the Platform Economy

Due to the incredible power of platform companies and the disruption they bring about, the platform economy is often seen as a global race in which every nation wants to succeed. So far, the biggest platform companies are based in the USA and China. For countries like Finland, this creates challenges for skilled employment, taxation, and trade. It is not just a question of companies’ platform strategies but also Finland’s national platform strategy and a joint European strategy.

When it comes to the wider strategies of developing the European innovation system and supporting Finland’s position in the global platform economy, it needs to be understood that Europe and Finland are excellent in innovativeness and produce a high number of start-ups. The challenge is that after the initial innovation many promising start-ups move to hot-spots like Silicon Valley to grow and Europe loses the investment made in them. It is well known that Silicon Valley operates like a platform by connecting different user groups such as technical/business experts, scientists, venture capitalists, incubators, start-ups, incumbents, etc. The result is a strong network effect that helps the entire ecosystem grow and thrive.

However, Europe is increasing its efforts to stay competitive. As an example, the smart specialisation strategy (RIS3) develops local synergies for innovation. Europe is also bringing together different innovation services through initiatives such as the European Innovation Council (EIC). Mission oriented innovation policy is one way to create the kind of momentum that is needed for disruptive innovation. There are views claiming that even many Silicon Valley innovations are based on initial high-risk investment by the state. Finding different ways to further foster the self-reinforcing positive feedback loops in the innovation system might be the key to increasing Finland’s and Europe’s position in the global platform economy.

Regulatory Issues

There are a lot of regulatory issues related to the new platform economy. For example, who should get access to platforms and who can be excluded? How should we approach the issue of data ownership? How do you protect data privacy and security? How do nations ensure fair distribution of tax revenues in the global platform economy? How do they ensure worker rights?

Employment is one of the issues that has been given visibility in our signal posts. As the platform economy emerged, it became clear it would change the nature of work by increasing flexibility, matching labour and tasks, providing new ways to work (e.g. Uber), and new ways to monetize assets (e.g. AirBnB). While creating opportunities for some platform workers, some platforms created negative issues with taxation, working conditions, labour legislation, the ability of workers to organize, and downward pressure on wages.

While the users of platforms are increasingly global, the development of the platforms and the associated tech industry jobs are concentrated in a small number of countries, mainly in the USA and China. Other countries, such as Finland, Canada, and the EU as a whole, are actively working to address skills gaps and create an environment that encourages the creation and growth of locally developed platforms to reduce the risk they will become platform “have nots” in the future.

A major topic is fair competition. As the platform economy was on its meteoric rise, there were early signals that the largest platform companies would disrupt the players that dominated the “old world” economy by replacing an “old world” monopoly with a more modern monopoly that had similar shortcomings. These new monopolies might be even more powerful and more difficult to regulate than the old ones, which has made them all the more interesting from a business perspective – and cumbersome from a public policy perspective. Recently, the US Federal Trade Commission has sued Facebook for illegal monopolization. Amazon has been charged with abusing its dominant position in the EU. Now, the European Commission is proposing a new set of rules in order to create a safer digital space in which the rights of all users are protected as well as to establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness.  The new Digital Services Act sets clear rules framing the responsibilities of digital services to address the risks faced by their users and to protect their rights, as well as rules covering large online platforms acting as gatekeepers.

Alternatives to monopolistic platforms

The focus of large, monopoly platforms has been on value creation for shareholders rather than value sharing to other members of the ecosystem and society. However, the signal posts show that accompanying these early signals were calls for more sustainable or equitable alternatives to the platforms that were beginning to dominate. While these haven’t developed yet, some of the alternatives include platforms run as cooperatives, “Zebra” companies, a Commons Economy, and a Team economy. “Zebra” companies aim for sustainable prosperity rather than maximal “unicorn” growth. In a Commons Economy, platform elements are considered “commons” but with for-profit and non-profit services built on top. In a Team Economy, impermanent groups form around a problem then disperse while a platform is used to coordinate activity.

Artificial Intelligence

Over the course of the Platform Value Now project, one of the most prevalent sources of signals about the future has been Artificial Intelligence. Looking past the hyperbole about achieving singularity and AI consciousness, most of the signals relate to practical uses of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The role of AI and algorithms is essential in the platform economy. Platforms connect different user groups and enable data collection and sharing between them. However, it is the algorithms and AI that are able to refine the data into meaningful information that brings value to the different user groups and aids their interaction. As AI technologies have advanced, the predictions about the economic impact of AI have grown significantly. Around 2015/16, many forecasters predicted AI would have a USD$ 5T global impact by the mid 2020s. Now, many forecasters such as McKinsey & Co and PwC are predicting AI will have a USD$ 15T impact by 2030. Access to large amounts of high quality data is essential for the development of AI. Platforms can have an essential role in the collection and integration of this data.

The early signals pointed to AI’s disruptive potential in industries such as finance, insurance, law, and robotics.  In addition to these industries, the use of AI is also growing rapidly in medicine, manufacturing, transportation, and consumer-facing speech recognition/personal digital assistant platforms.

There are a number of concerns about AI that have also turned into reality. Namely, concerns about unethical uses of AI (e.g. facial recognition or intrusive employee surveillance), the potential for learned bias if the datasets used to train the AI contain biases, and the “black box” nature of AI often means that humans can’t understand, and learn from, how AI algorithms make decisions. The European Commission is promoting excellence and trust in AI as well as supporting the growth of a European ecosystem on AI.

Distributed Ledger / Blockchain

Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers held the promise of quickly disrupting industries such as banking, stock trading, insurance, and health care and there have been several signal posts on distributed ledgers.  However, their usage has been more measured. Rather than being an “outside disruptor”, they are often being integrated into existing technological infrastructures.

While most of the publicity surrounding blockchain has been in relation to cryptocurrencies, they have been affected by volatile valuations and a lack of trust and transparency, as well as scaling limitations and concerns around energy consumption.

Using distributed ledgers to ensure integrity, as well as the use of smart contracts, have the greatest disruptive potential. While it is progressing more slowly than originally thought, they have the potential to eliminate “middlemen” positions such as lawyers and customs brokers as well as allowing unprecedented levels of trust in areas such as agricultural supply chains, pharmaceutical trials, or tracking carbon footprint.

Taking distributed ledgers and smart contracts to their extreme is the idea of a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO). While largely theoretical at the moment, a DAO entirely eliminates human inputs by using a network of smart contracts that automate essential and non-essential business processes.

Towards New Value

Like other economic revolutions of the past, both the strengths and weaknesses of the platform economy are now an integral part of the global economic system. As digitalisation and the growth of platforms continues, the future direction appears to be towards the development of mega-platforms. These emerge when platforms begin to connect with other platforms and form an interconnected system that is capable of gathering, analysing, and sharing large amounts of data within the system to foster innovation and new products and services. This allows for new possibilities for value creation.

Much of the early platform discussion has centred around the enormous business growth and financial wealth that platforms may bring, as well as the specific business strategies for creating rapid growth. An important enabler for financial growth is the data market. At the moment, the data market is still in its infancy, but its growth can already be seen, e.g. as more and more companies are selling their customer data. The market for customer data is huge, although the worth of a single person’s data is typically low.

Europe is in a challenging competitive situation in the digital platform economy when compared with the USA and China. To improve its position, it has adopted a bold strategy that aims at a human-centred and fair data economy that meets global challenges and combines different tools and strategies such as a digital single market, the new industrial strategy, innovation policy, and regulation in a coherent manner.

What makes platforms and data markets so fascinating is the incredible transformative power they have – it is like “technology on steroids”. For example, they allow us to develop personalized medicine, improve our transport and energy systems, renew our agriculture and all kinds of production systems, develop a circular economy, fight climate change and emissions, and make better decisions at all levels. These transformations are really about improving the lives of people and even the state of the planet, rather than about the mere financial value of these innovations. The ongoing transformation will affect all aspects of our lives.

However, platforms are not automatically the cure for everything. Technology does not necessarily make people happy. Platforms are just a tool that can be used in good ways and in bad ways. That is why we need to develop the needed regulation as well as agree on new playing rules (see e.g. Sitra).

Looking back and looking forward, with this final signal post we would really like to make the readers think about what kind of platform economy we want to create? How can the platform economy add to people’s happiness and wellbeing? What are the missions that we together wish to accomplish with the platform economy? And what kind of stance do we want to take regarding the ethical issues of the platform economy?


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While a complete listing of Signal posts can be found on the Platform Value Now website, below is a selection of Signals that are related to the topics discussed above.

Platforms and different sectors

Platforms and eco-consciousness drive innovation in the pulp and paper industry (2020)

Managing health in the digital age (2020)

Gaming industry meets the platform economy (2020)

Interconnected platforms (2020)

How digital platforms are helping us manage through the coronavirus (2020)

Platforms for active transport, fitness and exercise (2019)

Is cyber security next to be disrupted by digital platforms? (2019)

Digital platforms for supply chains and logistics (2018)

Public sector ambitions in the platform economy (2018)

Food in the platform economy: Consumer apps, production chain management and visionary ideas (2018)

Platforms for education and learning (2017)

Agriculture in the platform economy (2017)

Supporting innovation in platform economy

Interview study report: Do Finnish companies capitalise on opportunities in the platform economy? (2020)

Insights to platforms from Silicon Valley (2019)

Turning common pessimistic beliefs of platforms into positive narratives (2018)

Finland’s master plan for platform economy (2017)

Platforms and employment

Employment in the digital platform economy (2020)

Gig economy (2017)

Skills for platform economy (2016)

Workers in platforms (2016)

Platforms and fair competition

Ethics in the platform economy (2018)

Components of trust in the platform economy: Ability, integrity and benevolence (2018)

Alternatives to monopolistic platforms

Commons, zebras and team economy (2017)

Alternative forms of platforms in ridesharing (2017)

Platform cooperatives (2016)

Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (2016)

Use cases of AI for platforms (2016)

Chatbots and conversational commerce (2016)

Biases in artificial intelligence (2016)

Distributed ledger / blockchain

Problems with blockchain (2017)

Distributed autonomous organization (2017)

Blockchain (2016)



Amazon charged with abusing EU competition rules

Calculator for testing the value of your personal data

Competition policy for the digital era

Digital Services Act set to bring in new rules for tech giants

Emerging technology trends

Employee surveillance

EU Digital Services Act package

EU plans substantial fines for gatekeepers that break competition rules (in Finnish)

European approach to Artificial intelligence

European Innovation Council

European Strategy for Data

Europe’s digital sovereignty

Facebook sued for monopolization

Finnish companies’ views on opportunities in the platform economy

Future of platforms

Metaphors to describe and explore platform company strategies

Modeling the global economic impact of AI

One out of ten companies is selling their customer data to third parties (in Finnish)

Platforms and ecosystems (in Finnish)

Platforms connect users and providers

Prediction: AI will have a 5-trillion-dollar direct impact on the workforce by 2025

Rulebook for a fair data economy

Silicon Valley and the entrepreneurial state

Sizing the prize – What’s the real value of AI?

Smart Specialisation Strategy

Heidi Korhonen

Senior Scientist VTT

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

Raija Koivisto

Principle Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Brenda Fox

Founder, CEO Global X-Network

Interconnected Platforms

In the modern world, nearly everything is interdependent and interlinked. Data plays an essential role in this integration and is the feedstock for platforms. We understand the platform economy as a way of creating value and organizing layered (business or other) activities enabled by digital platforms, information and data. Based on the data, platforms typically are able to offer personalized, timely and optimized services for their users, and better service offerings for the service producers. The higher the quality of the data on the platform, the better it can serve the needs of the platform and its users and producers. Therefore, the quantity and quality of the data play an important role in platforms. Platforms develop new ways to access data across a variety of sources and develop new technologies for analysing and utilising data. Consequently, platforms are becoming increasingly connected and interlinked.

In this signal post, we discuss how platforms play an important role in the integration of the world by discussing examples from different platform categories.

X as a service

The concept of “X as a Service” refers to the delivery of anything as a service. The concept implies the integration of the client’s needs and the provider’s offerings (which at the same time is the basic concept of a platform). The concept has spread from the information technology industry to other sectors and now, with the advancement of digitalization, nearly anything as a service is available. Many of these services have interrupted conventional businesses, like Airbnb and Uber, for example. Some common examples of different XaaS include mobility, information, food, music, movies, manufacturing, security, maintenance, finance, procurement, purchasing, design, car wash, and lighting as a service.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is one example of how platforms integrate different traditional businesses with new technologies. In MaaS, different modes of transportation are integrated with new technologies like AI, eCommerce, autonomous vehicles, etc.  The result is a shift away from the concept of car ownership towards a real-time, customer-centric transportation platform that includes diverse modes of transport, including public transit, ride-sharing, car rentals, and autonomous taxis.

Other “X as a Service” platforms integrate new technologies and aggregate data from other devices like refrigerators, ovens, toothbrushes, smartwatches or even mirrors.  This enables the creation of mega platforms that gather large amounts of data on users and make that data available across a network of platforms that offer services and products.

Smart city

The Smart city concept is nicely described by Aveva: “Firstly, a smart city connects and collects information about itself through sensors, other devices, and existing systems. Next, it communicates that data using wired or wireless networks and databases. Thirdly, it analyses that data to understand what is happening now and what is likely to happen next. Finally, it must act based on this intelligence.” Application platforms can then utilize the data collected by the Smart city. Habibzadeh et al. give some examples of these platforms including Smart home, Smart parking, Smart driving, Smart health, Air quality monitoring and Smart transportation. Obviously, the availability of the data enables new platforms and services to be created. Helsinki has been a forerunner with its ambitious Forum virium Helsinki project and has been recognised in global rankings.  Examples of those include second place in the world by the Smart city index in 2020 and the first prize in the “Year in Infrastructure world congress”.

The Smart city concept has been adopted around the world as in Vietnam, Latin America, Cape Town in Africa, for example. While it initially appears counter-intuitive, smart city development is progressing faster in developing countries than in the developed world because the developing cities can jump directly over building “traditional” infrastructure and go directly to the smart era. Once the core Smart city technology has been implemented, it creates opportunities for the continued development of smart city infrastructure as well as for offering new services in the smart city environment.


Resources like materials, energy and data can be recycled. Recycling of goods and materials takes place commonly via platforms. On an industrial scale, ecosystems are formed to allow the reuse of waste materials and energy and to provide related data. The ultimate aim of recycling nowadays is to optimize the operations and to minimize emissions. Platforms having online access to data have the best possibilities in this optimization and are able to manage the operations in an optimal way.

European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform is a joint initiative by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee. The platform has 85 member platforms, which enable national, Pan European and international collaboration in order to activate a circular economy in all possible ways. The member platforms include ones directed to specific sectors such as the Chemical Recycling Europe, EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and Furn 360, for example.

Recycling products at the end of their life is more efficient if it is considered as part of the product design process. Many platforms gather and analyse data that provides knowledge to improve product design. On the other hand, materials tracking systems based on AI, RFID, block chain can optimise the entire value chain from the production of raw materials to product production to product transportation and its eventual recycling.

Industrial platforms and technology integration

One of the best-known examples of industrial platforms may be Industry 4.0, which “refers to the intelligent networking of machines and processes for industry with the help of information and communication technology (Plattform Industrie 4.0)”. Industry 4.0 (another example) implies both vertical and horizontal integration of data and operations as well as new technologies and new business models to achieve efficient and sustainable production and personalized offerings. Smart industry is a synonym to Industry 4.0.  Smart manufacturing and Integrated Intelligent Manufacturing (I2M) concepts add data sharing and intelligence into the manufacturing chain, allowing better optimization and control over ever-larger operations.

The steel industry has launched its own Smart Steel initiatives and programs. The EU launched the Smart Steel research program, the Swedish-Finnish steel company SSAB collects and provides data on their products along the whole service chain thus helping the selection of materials and recycling of steel, Anstair Smart Steel supports efficient and modern building in challenging circumstances, etc.

A good example of how different production plants can operate together and form a whole self-standing bioeconomy ecosystem is the Äänekoski mills. Äänekoski mills integrates a wide variety of different materials, processes and outcomes. It optimizes the use of materials and energy, producing even excess energy. Its core products are pulp, tall oil and turpentine, and various formats of bioenergy. In addition, it produces sulphuric acid, product gas, biogas and biopellets for its internal use, and biocomposites from pulp for plastic replacement. Moreover, new biofuels, fertilizers and earthwork materials, lignin-based bioproducts and pulp-based textile fibres are in the pipeline. The mill produces electricity, district heat and steam, and solid fuels for sale.

One different example of an industrial platform is the integration of transportation and 3D printing, which would allow for manufacturing components close to the client and thereby decreasing transportation and related emissions.


In the health sector, it is essential to share and integrate data and knowledge in order to enable efficient collaboration between different health providers. New technologies support the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses but also the storage, transmission, and access to sensitive personal data. The Kanta platform, for example, includes every citizen’s health data in Finland and offers different health sector experts access to the data when needed. Broader integration of data and different platforms is developed in the Aurora system, which aims to create the conditions for a people-oriented, proactive society.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules define the uniqueness of each of us and are passed from adult organisms to their offspring (NIH). Making use of DNA requires gathering large interconnected datasets, performing complex analysis, and providing a way for scientists and organisations to access the data. A number of platforms have emerged to meet these needs and support the research of inherited illnesses and the development of new treatments. DNA-based platforms are also used when investigating crimes and even when deciding what food “compliments” your DNA. Other use cases include the search for family members by using DNA heritage platforms like MyHeritage or Ancestry.

Platforms and their integration nowadays play an important role in the prevention of communicable diseases like COVID-19. ECDC, WHO and others provide situational awareness data and instructions during epidemics. Many researchers are trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Finnish researchers are developing a ‘vaccine platform’, which could be used to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 and related other diseases afterwards.

The most broadly integrated platforms are so-called Super-platforms. In China, where the government manages the collection of citizen data, Tencent is an ultimate example of a super-platform and it operates also in the health sector. Tencent, in collaboration with other platforms and companies “tries to develop a complete digital representation of one’s biological self – taking into account genetics, epigenetics and other factors, and allowing for a truly personalized medicine to emerge”. Google is collaborating with its partners to do the same and so are the big pharmaceutical companies.


For some years already, universities and private organisations have offered platforms and portals for self-education. Important aspects of learning platforms are presented in a literature summary by the University of Jyväskylä. Verywellfamily listed the seven best online learning platforms this year. The platforms offer education in various areas like IT coding, innovation, child development as well as Shakespeare; the most popular courses being related to ICT. Some universities offer online professional degree certificates, micro or nano degrees.

COVID-19 created a tremendous challenge for education when schools and universities had to rapidly switch from in-person to remote learning. This was a world-wide transition and UNESCO has summarized the national platforms used at schools in various countries. In addition, new educational platforms are continuously being developed. Universities play an important role in this.  The Finnish company Gofore aims to develop a meta platform, called Digione, which will integrate different educational actors by allowing the integration of the different systems they use.

New trends in educational platforms include benefitting from new technologies like augmented and virtual reality as well as mobile applications, 5G and new ways to support education.


Platforms have disrupted the traditional marketing industry. Paper brochures and leaflets are replaced by ads on social media and internet sites. Many subscribers of newspapers and magazines read their papers digitally, which implies that more and different ads can be offered to the readers. Digital advertisement can benefit from new technologies such as 3D, VR, AR and links that offer more data and experience.

Big social media and internet companies like Facebook and Google collect a big part of their income from personalized advertising that improves the efficiency of marketing. Social media companies collect data by offering ‘free’ applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. for citizens but also for companies. Their data reserve is huge, which enables them to become super platforms that have a bigger budget and more power than many of the world’s nations.

In addition to the global giants, smaller companies, such as Finnish-based company Smartly, have created successful businesses by specializing in social media marketing.

Banking & Financing

The platform economy requires a trustworthy digital transaction system to operate. That is what banks are offering and, consequently, banks are an inevitable part of successful platforms. In addition to transactions, banks offer a reliable identification system for safe entry to other systems. Therefore, a bank account is a key to most platforms and banks are integrated into most platforms. The revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) has been essential in fostering innovation in the financial services sector as it requires banks to open their payment services to other companies.

Banks themselves are entering the platform business actively and forming alliances to offer a broader variety of services to their clients. As an example, one of the new marketplaces offers “non-financial products from third-party service providers, such as business management services, health-related products, or even e-hailing functionality, aimed at providing a one-stop shop “platform-as-a-marketplace” service, accessed through their banking interface”.

Governments support the trustworthiness of the banking system. In addition to international agreements, some mutual ones aim to guarantee two-sided data sharing and transactions as in the case of Singapore and Australia, for example.

One challenge in developing countries is that many poor people do not have the official identification needed to open a bank account. The Asian Development Bank, for example, is funding the development of a low-cost identification system, which would allow the poorest people to open a bank account – and be a part of the digital economy. About 80% of the Africa’s 1.2 billion people don’t have a bank account or credit history.  Banking platforms that offer micro-loans, like Social Lender, are overcoming this by integrating with users’ social media profiles to determine a “social reputation score” that acts as a proxy for the users’ trustworthiness and likelihood they will re-pay the loan.

A Finnish example of a new financial offering is the DIAS platform for the housing market. It combines several actors such as lawyers, inspectors, and bankers along with new technologies like distributed ledger and digital signatures to offer digitized and distant transactions for buying and selling real estate, houses and flats. Zillow is a corresponding platform in the US.


Interconnected and integrated platforms have gained enormous economic and social power in the world. Accessing and aggregating data is the key aspect of this development. Data can be collected from free markets (US-based platforms) or in a centralized way like in China; both ways seem to produce huge super platforms. Indeed, data has become such an important aspect of our economy that the old saying that “data is the new oil” has become true. The power of the platform economy is accepted broadly and companies need to be involved, whether they like it or not, to be profitable. The big question in industry often is “who owns the data?”.

Trust and security are necessary preconditions for a successful platform. Banks – supported and owned by state governments – form a layer above or beside platforms thus securing safe access. The security is supported by international initiatives and agreements such as the Singapore Australia digital economy initiative or the GAIA-X, a Federated data infrastructure for Europe. GAIA-X aims to develop common requirements for a European data infrastructure. The discussion seems to have moved from platforms and integrated platforms to the data economy. Banking seems to have taken an important role as a necessary infrastructure component to guarantee the security of financial transactions and data handling.

Platforms have become a necessity in our lives. On one hand, platforms enable equal possibilities to participate in various activities in society but on the other hand, as platforms grow and become interconnected they have gathered significant power such that they now have more power than most of the world’s nations. Ethics and especially privacy are the prevailing topics related to platforms.


23andMe has sold the rights to develop a drug based on its users’ DNA

Accelerate drug development

Accenture and Merck Collaborate with Amazon Web Services to Launch a Research Platform to Drive Innovation in Drug Discovery and Scientific Research

Alustatalous näyttää voimansa – teollisuuden ja kuntien yhteistyö auttaa minimoimaan hävikin


Autopesula Upsteam:

Auvinen, H., & Koivisto, R. (2020). How do Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the evolving platform economy? Interview study. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT Technology No. 376 ,

B.Grimm and Amata work on smart city, Banfkok, Thailand,



DNA Interpol

DNANudge Guides Your Grocery Shopping Based Off of Your DNA

3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Industrial Manufacturing. New research from UPS and the consumer technology association (CTA)

EdTech in 2025: A glimpse into education’s future

EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

First Vietnamese 4D digital map released

Food as a Service

Forum virium Helsinki

Foursquare Launches Location-Based Virtual Audio Guide Platform Marsbot for AirPods

GAIA-X: A Federated data infrastructure for Europe

Genetic Disorders

Gofore rakentaa uutta oppimisen palvelualustaa

Hadi  Habibzadeh, Cem  Kaptan, Tolga  Soyata, Burak Kantarci, Azzedine  Boukerche. Smart City System Design: A Comprehensive Study of the Application and Data Planes. ACM Computing Surveys, Vol. 52, No. 2, Article 41. Publication date: May 2019.

10 Higher Ed Tech Predictions for 2020

Hilman, M. H. (2013). INFORMATION SYSTEM AS A SERVICE: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES. Jurnal Sistem Informasi (Journal of Information System), 8(2), 71-77.

How your social media reputation could secure you a loan

Industry 4.0,called%20a%20%E2%80%9Csmart%20factory%E2%80%9D.

Industry 4.0: 7 Real-World Examples of Digital Manufacturing in Action


Learning Platforms

Manufacturing as a Service

Meriklusteri hiilineutraalissa kiertotaloudessa – ekosysteemin kehittäminen.

Movies as a Service

Music as a Service

National learning platforms and tools


On-premises steel AI platform

Powering Beautifully Effective Ads

Predix Platform

PSD2 Payment services (PSD 2) – Directive (EU) 2015/2366 | European Commission (

RFID for the Steel Industry


SA banks race to transition to marketplace banking

Security as a Service

Singapore, Australia to collaborate on digital economy initiatives

Smart cities Africa: Cape Town and Nairobi take the lead

Smart city by Aveva:

Smart Cities in Latin América

Smart city index

Smart manufacturing and smart industry in context

Smart Steel. Research Fund for Coal and Steel: Supporting steelmaking and use in the 21st Century, Version 2

Suomalainen koronarokote on jo antanut lupaavia tuloksia, mutta sillä on yksi ongelma: rahoitus puuttuu

The 7 Best Online Learning Platforms of 2020

The Rise Of The Interconnected Mega-Platform

The Solution for Supply Chain Traceability

Tracing the Steel Supply Chain

Valtakunnallinen liikennejärjestelmäsuunnitelma vuosille 2021-2032 – Suunnitelmaversio 4.9.2020

Valtavalo – Lighting as a Service

Vietnam: Developing smart cities one of key tasks in national digital transformation: PM,

What is Mobility as a Service (MaaS)?

World health organization


XaaS (Anything as a Service)

Äänekoski mills

Raija Koivisto

Principle Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

Heidi Korhonen

Senior Scientist VTT

Brenda Fox

Founder, CEO Global X-Network

Employment in the digital platform economy

The digital platform economy has impacted employment in many ways. “Traditional” jobs, such as office workers and the service industry, are being enhanced by collaboration, video, and cloud-based platforms. New tech industry jobs are being created in countries that have successfully encouraged the development of platform companies. Finally, many platforms foster the sharing and gig economies and have created employment opportunities for individuals who have an asset, skill, or time to share. In this Signal post, we touch briefly on employment in the tech industry but focus primarily on employment in gig and sharing platforms and provide an update on how the early promises of the sharing and gig economies have played out in reality.

The promise of platforms

Digital platforms are disrupting established business practices and redefining the relationships between producer, consumer, and worker. By creating multi-sided marketplaces and ecosystems, they promise to democratise both consumption and production. Empowering participants and creating environments where workers have flexibility and control over the goods, services, and labour they provide are some of the key goals of platforms.

The growth of the platform economy is part of what the World Economic Forum describes as the 4th Industrial Revolution (4th IR). While the 4th IR includes technological advances in areas like robotics and artificial intelligence, it also includes eCommerce, mobile payments, as well as sharing and marketplace platforms. As these technologies spread globally they bring opportunities for people in developed as well as developing countries.  Whether you’re in Spain or sub Saharan Africa, if you have an asset to share, a skill, or a product you produce, the platform economy gives you the opportunity to monetise it.

Policies to encourage growth

While the users of platforms are increasingly global, the development of the platforms, and the tech industry jobs are concentrated in a small number of countries, mainly in the US and China. Other countries, such as Finland, Canada, and the EU as a whole, are actively working to encourage the creation and growth of locally developed platforms. As we wrote in an earlier Signal post about GDP and the Platform Economy, countries recognise the need to encourage the development of platforms to ensure future growth in their economy and employment for their citizens.

In addition to fostering the local tech industry, many countries recognise that some platforms will replace “traditional” jobs. For example, Finnish researchers estimate that 23% of jobs in Helsinki, such as salespeople, waiters, and accountants could be replaced by 2030 through digitalisation technologies such as robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Re-training displaced workers, through government programs or platforms such as Udemy or Google Career Certificates, are part of the solution to increasing employment opportunities.

Other policy initiatives are focused on equity and inclusion of women and minorities in the platform economy, as both tech workers and/or participants in the sharing/gig economy. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Commission (EC) created Digital2Equal, an initiative involving 17 leading technology companies with a focus on increasing opportunities for women in emerging markets.

The challenges created by the gig and sharing economy

While platforms have technically delivered on their promise of democratising production and consumption, they have introduced new challenges. Some platforms allow producers and “workers” more control over how their work is valued, while others are highly competitive and drive earnings lower.

Producers such as those selling products on Etsy, providing skilled services on Upwork, or renting properties on AirBnB face competition but generally have control over the prices they charge and how they operate. Producers/workers operating on platforms that provide ridesharing, food delivery, or crowdwork participate in a highly competitive environment with little control over the fees they’re paid and none of the benefits associated with being a “traditional employee”.

These challenges have been written about in detail recently, including: being at the mercy of bad reviews, high levels of pressure, working long hours, no employment benefits, low-paying crowdwork, concentrating economic gains in the hands of the platform, and poor working conditions inside eCommerce warehouses.

Creating a fair and sustainable gig and sharing economy

While labour laws and social security infrastructure vary by country, addressing the challenges associated with employment in the platform economy is a key issue for policymakers. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFound) outlined policy suggestions that include: clarifying employment status definitions for platform workers, setting minimum payment standards, setting up dispute-resolution mechanisms, and allowing platform workers to organise and establish representation.

The unique situation in the Nordic countries is highlighted by TemaNord (funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers). While platform work is still relatively small in Nordic countries, some platforms are being assimilated into the Nordic labour model, such as Foodora in Norway and Hilfr in Denmark reaching collective agreements with workers. However, other platforms are eroding the Nordic model, such as Uber instigating the deregulation of the taxi industry.

The World Economic Forum suggests four steps to build a fairer gig economy: rate platforms on fair work practices, ensure platforms are accountable to existing (or new) regulations, allow workers to organise, and allowing democratic ownership and worker cooperatives.

While Uber is advocating for the creation of a new employment classification for gig workers, some observers take the position that new policies and laws may not be required since they feel existing labour law and social security frameworks already apply to platforms and platform workers in most countries. They assert that a case-by-case assessment of different platforms will clearly identify if the workers are entrepreneurs or employees and which existing laws apply.


Selected articles and websites

The sharing economy has made life easier ⁠— and better too

Can work still have real meaning in the age of digital platforms?

WEF – How to build a fairer gig economy in 4 steps

UN Frontier Technology Quarterly – Does the sharing economy share or concentrate?

EuroFound – Employment and working conditions of selected types of platform work


Past Signals related to this one

Gig economy

Workers in platforms

Finland’s master plan for platform economy

GDP and the platform economy


Additional references

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (WEF)

Does the fourth industrial revolution offer hope for workers in the developing world

Finland’s master plan for platform economy

Canada Innovation Supercluster Initiative

The European Digital Strategy

Digital2Equal – Case studies on women and the platform economy

Work revolution and digitalisation – what changes are promised for the labour market in the Helsinki metropolitan area? (Työn murros ja digitalisaatio – mitä muutoksia on luvassa pääkaupunkiseudun työmarkkinoille?)

How modern workers are at the mercy of ratings

Survey reveals app drivers’ misery

California judge rules Uber and Lyft must classify drivers as employees

A Data-driven analysis of workers’ earnings on Amazon Mechanical Turk

Here’s what it’s like to work in an Amazon warehouse right now

TemaNord – Platform work in the Nordic models: Issues, cases and responses

Uber CEO advocates for ‘third way’ to classify gig workers while fighting California labour lawsuit

Markus Äimälä: Platform economics and labor law – a lot of noise from nothing? (Markus Äimälä: Alustatalous ja työoikeus – paljon meteliä tyhjästä?)

Rantahalvari: The platform economy challenges social security – perhaps not (Rantahalvari: Alustatalous haastaa sosiaaliturvan – ehkei kuitenkaan)

PWC Legal – Gig economy employment status

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

Heidi Korhonen

Senior Scientist VTT

Digital platforms adapt in novel ways during the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how digital platforms are contributing to our overall resilience and allowing large parts of society to continue functioning during lockdowns. In many cases, digital platforms such as video conferencing, eCommerce, or eLearning are being used as they were originally intended. In this signal post we take a look at platforms that are being adapted or used in novel ways during the pandemic.

The entertainment and sports world has been upended as movie theatres, sports venues, and concerts have been forced to close to avoid the risks associated with large crowds. Digital platforms are helping to fill the gap. Gaming platforms, such as Fortnite and Minecraft, are being used in new and innovative ways to host live concerts and music festivals. Over 12 million people watched Travis Scott’s concert on Fortnite and after the South By South West (SXSW) music festival was cancelled, a group turned to Minecraft to recreate the experience and held a Block By Block West festival online. After sporting leagues were suspended, eSports platforms have been used to host professional athletes playing cricket, football/soccer, and even Formula One races.

Maintaining physical distance and sanitizing our hands are two of the mantras used around the world to “flatten the curve”. While the days of side-by-side selfies are on hold for a while, Apple was recently awarded a patent for Synthetic Group Selfies. While they applied for the patent in 2018, well before the coronavirus, it is perfectly suited for physical distancing because it will allow a user to add photos of other people to their selfies making it look like they were side-by-side.

Sanitizing shared vehicles, like taxis and police cars, is time-consuming and difficult. Ford has issued a software update to the vehicle management platform in their Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles to use the cabin heating system to neutralize viruses. Honda and other auto manufacturers are also looking at ways to modify their vehicle platforms to reduce the risk from the coronavirus.

With a large part of the global population staying at home, ride-hailing platforms have seen large decreases in ridership. Companies like Uber are expanding their platforms and re-directing this capacity by rolling out Uber Direct and Uber Connect to allow businesses to send packages directly to home-bound customers and allowing people to send a package from their house to a nearby friend or relative.

eLearning platforms have become the primary vehicles to educate school children and university students. However, some areas of study are more complicated and face additional challenges. Medical students rely on hands-on learning but with hospital access restricted to essential workers, Tokyo Women’s Medical University is using a specially designed Virtual Reality (VR) platform to livestream surgeries to VR headsets worn by medical students at home.

In addition to increasing the resilience of our society during the pandemic, digital platforms are also showing how resilient they are by adapting in novel ways.

Selected articles and websites

How digital platforms are helping us manage through the coronavirus
New norm: Musicians performing on video game platforms
Philly band brings international lineup to live music festival in Minecraft
Coronavirus and the virtual sports revolution
George Russell wins 3rd F1 esports race in a row in simulated Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Apple patents socially-distant selfies
How Ford Turned Its Cop Cars Into Giant Ovens to Kill Coronavirus
Moving more of what matters with delivery
A Tokyo hospital is livestreaming surgeries in Virtual Reality

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

Interview study report: Do Finnish companies capitalise on opportunities in the platform economy?

This signal post summarizes our newest research report on an interview study that explores how Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the platform economy. The study is based on interviews that were conducted in Finland and in the USA in 2019 with companies from various business sectors such as food, pulp and paper, manufacturing and security.

For more details, read the full report.

Interview study

The aim of our interview study was to find out how Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the evolving platform economy, the phenomenon that we broadly define as a way of creating value and organizing layered (business or other) activities enabled by digital platforms, information and data.

The guiding research questions for this work were:

  1. How do Finnish companies understand the concept of the platform economy in general and in their business sector?
  2. What opportunities and threats do Finnish companies perceive in terms of the technological, social and political aspects of the platform economy?
  3. What factors act as drivers or barriers in the process of Finnish companies entering the platform economy?
  4. How do the findings from Finnish companies compare to those from the USA?

In 2019, a total of 10 interviews were conducted in Finland and 8 interviews in the USA, representing various business sectors such as food, pulp and paper, manufacturing and security. The rationale for complementing the Finnish interviews with a handful of American interviews was to gain a rough overview of the similarities and differences between the two, even if meticulous comparisons could not be made based on these limited samples.

Results and recommendations

The results of the study reveal new aspects of Finnish companies’ attitudes and preparedness for the uptake of platform economy opportunities. For example, the companies appeared to be well aware and informed about the platform economy and platform-based business models even if risk-averse attitudes and the legacy of traditional non-platform businesses were described as significantly slowing progress. In comparison, the interviews in the USA focused more on how important it is to make progress fast and learn from the more rapidly changing sectors. The American companies also seemed less risk-averse, more open to data sharing and more strongly customer-driven in their service development.

We conclude our report with a discussion and analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Finnish companies in the emerging platform economy. These are further processed into recommendations for the Finnish companies and public sector decision-makers.

Key recommendations for the Finnish companies that are willing to capitalise on the opportunities of the platform economy (for details, see the full report):

  1. Dream big and adopt a bold mindset.
  2. Identify and address the bottlenecks.
  3. Build and join partnerships and ecosystems.
  4. Listen to the customers’ needs and values.

Key recommendations for Finnish public sector decision-makers who are willing to support progress in the platform economy (for details, see the full report):

  1. Maintain support measures and address gaps in the innovation chain.
  2. Tap into the positive social and societal aspects and potential of platforms.
  3. Enable business and safeguard public interest through regulations and improve response time.
  4. Deepen public-private collaboration.

For more information

Auvinen, H., & Koivisto, R. (2020). How do Finnish companies view and capitalise on opportunities in the evolving platform economy? Interview study. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT Technology, No. 376

Heidi Auvinen

Senior Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Managing health in the digital age

The world of healthcare has many facets and is constantly evolving. In this signal post, we look at how digital platforms are driving advances in healthcare delivery, hospital management, and the development of new treatments.

Harnessing the power of the cloud

Many organizations have transitioned to cloud-based solutions for key business functions such as accounting, sales force management, and maintaining customer data. Healthcare is a complex industry with many disparate service providers that people interact with throughout their lives. Family physicians, testing labs, specialists, and hospitals are just a few of the service providers responsible for patient care that are likely to use disparate paper-based and computerised systems that don’t talk to each other.

Finland is a world leader in Electronic Health Records (EHR) with its MyKanta platform. While Google and many other large players have cloud-based EHR platforms, a report from Health Europa highlights the benefits and challenges of replicating Finland’s success in other countries. Data privacy is a key issue for EHRs. When Google announced a partnership with Ascension, a large US-based healthcare provider, it triggered calls for oversight and stricter privacy provisions as more healthcare providers look to move their patient records to cloud-based platforms.

Augmenting diagnosis with Artificial Intelligence

Historically, doctors and specialists relied on years of experience, second opinions, and impressive memories to diagnose illnesses and decide on the best type of treatment. New tools are emerging to augment doctors’ ability to diagnose and treat disease.

Simply keeping track of new research and illnesses is a challenge for doctors and patients. Many patient-centred platforms include “symptom checkers” and provide medical reference information in simplified terms to help people determine if they have an illness and how it should be treated. While this can feed into some people’s medical paranoia, the platforms provide valuable information that helps people decide if their illness is serious. Some examples include Duodecim, WebMD, and MedLine Plus. Doctors can make use of more advanced platforms, including platforms like EvidenceAlerts that provide customised alerts when new research is published.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML) platforms can analyse patterns in large amounts of data and build algorithms to make predictions. New platforms like Bering Research’s Brave AI are being piloted in the UK to give family doctors a tool that can analyse patient history and key medical markers to predict which patients are likely to experience a decline in health and need hospitalisation in the future. This allows doctors to start pro-actively managing patient health before a crisis occurs.

The strengths of AI and ML are also being used to interpret diagnostic images, such as ultrasounds and MRIs. While not yet capable of replacing humans, Google Health and Imperial College London have made progress using AI to review mammograms and detect breast cancer. Google has also been behind other advances such as diagnosing eye diseases and lung cancer. In Singapore, Automated Vascular Analysis (AVA) from See-Mode Technologies has been approved for clinical use to analyse vascular ultrasounds, before a final review by a human radiologist.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the rise of smart health devices

Small, connected devices are making it possible to gather health information continuously and feed it into platforms that allow users and healthcare professionals to access and analyse the data. Many people already wear a smartwatch or carry a mobile phone. Sensors built into these devices and customised apps are being used to track heart rate and blood oxygen levels (FitBit), ensure medication adherence, and monitor the behaviour of seniors to identify cognitive decline (MindYou).

Specialised devices are emerging, such as Oura’s smart ring, that measures general health and can also be used to check for fevers and alert wearers of a potential COVID-19 infection. H2Care’s blood pressure reader resembles a small wristwatch and integrates with an app to provide trend tracking.  Researchers have made several advances, such as a metabolite measuring device the size of wristwatch to analyse perspiration and assess the wearer’s body chemistry, a smart contact lens to help diabetics manage their condition, and electronic pills that monitor a patient’s digestive tract.

IoT and mobile communication are transforming hospitals into “Smart Hospitals”.  Ambulances equipped with cameras, sensors, and devices like mobile MRIs will allow paramedics and specialists to begin treating complex cases before they arrive at the hospital. Once at the hospital, the Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform integrated with patient diagnostic and monitoring devices, along with AI-augmented care planning will allow entire care teams to provide seamless care. Advanced technologies like Augmented Reality/Robotic surgical devices and 3D printed organs and devices will dramatically improve patient outcomes. However, in addition to issues like data privacy and cybersecurity, most hospitals face fundamental challenges in implementing smart technologies, namely finding adequate funding and IT expertise.

Researching the future

Digital platforms are helping medical researchers manage the complexity, data, and collaboration associated with research while reducing the time it takes to bring new discoveries into clinical practice. Most medical research begins by searching for clues in large datasets from patients with a particular illness, or by analysing genetic data, or by looking for patterns in previous research, or by doing numerous experiments to identify chemicals (or combinations) that are effective. Using AI, Machine Learning, and data analytics, researchers are able to rely on platforms to do a lot of the initial work efficiently and quickly.

UK start-up, Exscientia was able to complete its research and begin human trials of a new drug in 12 months instead of the typical 5 years with traditional research methods. Researchers are hoping for an even shorter timeline to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. Apple is partnering with research institutions and using the ubiquity of its platform and the new Research app to enrol and track thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people in broad research studies.

Once a treatment is in clinical trials, platforms like OpenClinica can manage participants and their data. Given the number of stakeholders involved in the clinical trial process and the sensitive nature of the data, Blockchain-enabled platforms are being considered to ensure the integrity of the trials.

Taking medical research to a more granular level using digital platforms is driving the emergence of personalised medicine. By sequencing an individual’s genome, analysing biomarkers, and considering other medications being taken, researchers can use CRISPR and other techniques to develop treatments tailored to that individual, that also avoid harmful drug interactions.

Selected Articles and Websites

The world of cloud-based services: storing health data in the cloud
Healthcare has many use cases for 5G and IoT but no infrastructure to support it
Finding the future of care provision: The role of smart hospitals
Personalized Medicine Is About to Go Mainstream With Big Implications for Health Care
AI Can Help Scientists Find a Covid-19 Vaccine
Apple launches three innovative studies in the new Research app

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

How digital platforms are helping us manage through the coronavirus

In our past signal posts, we’ve highlighted many ways that digital platforms are growing and impacting our everyday lives. In this signal post, we’re highlighting how those same platforms have increased our resilience and ability to adapt to these extraordinary times of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak. Although our world is currently being turned upside down, in the age of the internet and the platform economy we have many options available.

Early detection and tracking

One of the key aspects to control a virus outbreak is to discover and track it as early as possible. Artificial Intelligence-based (AI) platforms are capable of seeing patterns in large volumes of data and raising early warning flags. China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about the Covid-19 outbreak on January 9th. However, BlueDot’s AI-driven platform analysed foreign-language news, animal and plant disease networks, and official announcements and notified its customers of the outbreak on December 31st. Other AI platforms have been developed to predict outbreaks of viruses like Ebola and Dengue fever and suggest ways to contain the outbreaks quickly.

A fast-spreading virus with a long contagious period means people may be spreading the virus across a large network of contacts, who in turn unknowingly spread it to their networks. Several mobile phone-based contact tracking apps have been developed to help health authorities isolate an infected person’s network of contacts. Singapore’s TraceTogether app uses Bluetooth to allow a user to store identifiers from other mobile phones they’ve been in close proximity with. The data is encrypted and stored locally for 21 days. If a user becomes a suspected Covid-19 case, they can release their contact data to health authorities.

Dissemination of information and misinformation

Social media platforms and online news sites are common places where people look to find out what’s happening in their network of friends, their city and country, or the world. Trusted news outlets, governments, international agencies, and local businesses have used online platforms to communicate information quickly to many people. This “rapid and broad” communication has kept people informed about the spread of the virus, steps they can take to slow the spread, and where they can turn if they need assistance.

While they are sources for valuable information about Covid-19, they can also be a source of misinformation. In some cases, the 24/7 news cycle is constantly looking for headlines that will make people “click” and they emphasize sensational new content. This was also an issue in the era of non-digital news, but there is a risk that the never-ending online news cycle contributes to people’s sense of panic. Misinformation and “Fake News” can also be rapidly propagated through social media networks. People witness panic buying in Hong Kong or Australia and within 24 hours there is a global shortage of supplies like toilet paper!

Distant socialising, working and learning

In these days of “distancing” and “shelter in place” orders affecting about half of the world’s population, platforms are now essential for daily life. Physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing since social media and free video chat services allow people to maintain contact with friends and family. They also allow local groups to organize and provide support to the most vulnerable and at-risk people in their area.

With many people remaining in their homes as much as possible to help slow the spread of the virus, e-commerce platforms, as well as food and grocery delivery platforms, are invaluable lifelines. These platforms are also helping businesses generate some revenue while their “bricks and mortar” locations have been ordered to close.

With gyms, fitness classes, swimming pools, and tennis courts closed, people are turning to exercise platforms like Tonal, FightCamp, Mirror, Peloton, Fressi, and Elixia. They offer fitness routines or live-streamed fitness classes to keep healthy and fit while staying in your home. Usage of streaming audio, video and online multi-player games is surging. Some platforms have offered new services to help housebound people simulate familiar group activities like getting together to watch a movie. Netflix Party allows friends to get together virtually to watch the same show with an online chat stream scrolling beside the video so friends can interact with each other.

As companies were told to close their physical locations and workers were told to remain in their homes, many companies accelerated their rollout of cloud-based platforms and virtual workplace platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. While not every job can be done remotely, these platforms are allowing many companies to keep operating during these unprecedented times.

While e-learning platforms have been changing the way education is delivered over the past decade, change has been slow and eLearning tools have typically augmented traditional approaches to education at most schools rather than replacing them. With schools from kindergarten to university closed in many countries, e-learning is quickly becoming the primary means of education.

The race for treatment and prevention

While the treatment of the virus and the development of a vaccine require a lot of hands-on work, AI and crowd-sourcing platforms are supporting the effort. Because every country on the planet requires large amounts of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment there are widespread shortages. Crowd-sourcing platforms are being used to organize donation drives from businesses and individuals to quickly gather much-needed supplies.

Maker platforms, like Thingiverse, are encouraging makers to “Hack The Pandemic” and come up with ideas to help manage during the crisis. NordicBaltic.Tech is a new platform created by the Nordic Council of Ministers and GovTech venture company PUBLIC to showcase organisations and entrepreneurs that are developing technology responses to COVID-19.

Crowdsourcing is also being used to support the development of treatments and vaccines. Individuals are donating their home computer’s idle time to platforms like Folding@Home so they can perform complex analysis on the proteins in the Covid-19 virus in the search for better treatment options.

The ability of AI to make sense of large amounts of data is being used in several ways. Researchers are using AI to analyse protein structures, develop 3D models, and look for areas of weakness so new treatments can be developed. The effort to fast-track the development of a vaccine is using AI to determine the best way to safely trigger an immune response and build immunity to future infection. Finally, AI is being used to sort through the thousands of Covid-19 research papers that have been published since January. The Covid-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) has over 44,000 articles and papers in machine-readable format so natural language processing AI platforms can connect the dots between studies to suggest hypotheses and areas for future research that might otherwise have been missed.

What does the future look like?

The platform economy and digitalisation have been growing so rapidly and changed how we live our lives in fundamental ways that it’s easy to take it for granted. Imagine if the Covid-19 crisis happened only 25 years ago. In 1995, there were less than 50 million internet users in the world, Amazon was barely getting started, Google was still several years away, and smartphones and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were about 10 years away.

The impact of the Covid-19 crisis will be severe, but digital platforms have introduced enough resiliency into our economy that large portions of it are continuing to function.

Past Signals

Below is a selection of past signal posts that highlight digital platforms helping us deal with the Coronavirus pandemic:

Deep learning and neural networks (2016-11-30)
Platforms for education and learning (2017-12-08)
Food in the platform economy: Consumer apps, production chain management and visionary ideas (2018-06-07)
Tackling fake news and misinformation in platforms (2018-04-04)
Platforms for active transport, fitness and exercise (2019-06-11)

Selected articles and websites

An AI epidemiologist sent the first warnings of the Wuhan virus
AI joins the fight against diseases like coronavirus
Singapore says it will make its contact tracing tech freely available to developers
Online learning gets its moment due to COVID-19 pandemic
Can The U.S. Crowdsource Its Way Out Of A Mask Shortage?
Folding@Home – Coronavirus – What we’re doing and how you can help
AI can help scientists find a Covid-19 vaccine

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

GDP and the platform economy

This signal post gives a short summary of a literature review on GDP and it’s usability as a measure in the increasingly digitalised economy. For more details, download the full report.

A measure for the manufacturing age

Gross Domestic Product was adopted in the 1940s, the age of manufacturing, to measure the strength of a country’s economy and it also became a proxy for well-being. It’s a measure of the monetary value of all goods and services produced by a country. A rapidly increasing portion of today’s economy is technology services, including platforms that offer “free/add-supported” products or act as international online intermediaries to facilitate the exchange of goods, services or information. By definition, the GDP doesn’t measure “free” products. In economic terms, the value a consumer gets from the “free”, and potentially higher quality products is measured by utility or consumer surplus, which is also not captured in GDP.

The slowing of GDP growth

While the GDP of most of the world’s economies has been increasing since its inception, the rate of GDP growth has slowed recently.  More importantly, the growth rates of GDP per capita and GDP per hour worked (labour productivity) have also slowed.  While the root cause of the slowdown in GDP growth has been debated for several decades, most economists agree that a portion of the slowdown is real and not solely an issue with capturing the growth of the platform and technology sector.  Structural issues like demographics as well as the fact that past innovations like the electric motor likely had a larger impact on productivity than recent innovations are all contributing factors.

The uniqueness of the platform economy and the technology sector

While the reasons above partially explain the slowdown in GDP growth, many agree there is a growing proportion of the economy that isn’t being captured as part of GDP.  There are a number of unique aspects of the platform economy and the technology sector that make it challenging to measure, manage, and ensure fair taxation. These include: ability to scale at low cost; “free/ad-supported” pricing models; borderless reach; blurred lines between consumers and producers; venture funding that encourages long-term market capitalisation over short-term profitability; digital services that replace physical products; and there’s a decreasing marginal contribution to GDP as the technology sector grows.

Uncaptured GDP

Given the unique aspects of the platform economy and the technology sector described above, it is possible that some aspects are having a negative influence on GDP growth while other aspects are having a positive influence that is difficult to capture using the current definition of GDP. The growth of the platform economy has been partially based on a culture of “free/low cost” products and services that provide utility and happiness to people beyond their economic value. This consumer surplus adds up to substantial uncaptured GDP.

This additional utility and happiness create a positive feedback loop that drives growth in the technology sector and the platform economy. As people seek to increase utility and happiness, they consume more in the platform economy which leads to its continued expansion as well as growth in uncaptured GDP.

Soft Innovation Resources

Understanding how to encourage the expansion of the platform economy may be key to increasing the rate of GDP growth. Watanabe, et al., postulate that countries (and companies) can increase their rate of growth by diverting a portion of their resources away from R&D and towards enabling Soft Innovation Resources (SIRs) as a complement to traditional R&D. These are soft resources that can be harnessed to drive innovation and growth at individual companies, which rolls up to growth at the country level.

Enablers of Soft Innovation Resources are listed below:

  • Supra-Functionality: People seek out products and services where they experience satisfaction beyond utilitarian functional needs. They desire social, cultural, aspirational, tribal, and emotional benefits.
  • Sleeping or Untapped Resources: These are existing resources that are under-utilized resulting in an unused capacity that may be spread sparsely and difficult to access without technology.
  • Trust: People’s level of trust in various aspects of their lives, society, and the economy can affect their participation and contribution to innovation and the creation of economic value.
  • Maximizing Gratification: Seeking gratification of needs is a key pillar of Maslow’s theories about motivation and human behaviour. As increasingly sophisticated needs are gratified, there is a desire to maintain and build upon the increased level of gratification.
  • Assimilation and Self-Propagation: Sustainable growth can be obtained when past innovations are assimilated into future innovations, effectively creating a self-propagating cycle of innovation.
  • Co-Evolution: The coupling of two or more items which then innovate and evolve along a common path.

The future of GDP measurement

Although the GDP measure has been revised over time, there is widespread recognition that more changes are needed if it’s to remain relevant as the digital economy grows. There is debate about how platforms and the digital economy are contributing to GDP and the amount of uncaptured GDP. For example, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) concluded uncaptured GDP would increase the rate of GDP growth by less than 0.01% per year. On the other hand, Brynjolfsson, et al. developed a measure they call GDP-B and they concluded that the consumer surplus from Facebook alone would increase the rate of US GDP growth by 0.1% per year and platforms such as internet search, e-mail, and maps would contribute significantly more. And somewhere in between, an independent study commissioned by the UK government concluded that annual GDP growth is understated by 0.3% to 0.6%, largely due to the platform economy.

It’s clear there are wide-ranging opinions on the magnitude of uncaptured GDP. International organisations such as the OECD and World Economic Forum are also trying to bring clarity to the situation. Additionally, a number of measures are being developed such as the Human Development Index (United Nations) and the Better Life Index (OECD) with a focus on well-being to augment GDP.

Strategies for future growth

The slowdown in GDP growth is complicated and multi-faceted.  Perhaps some of the structural impediments to growth can’t be mitigated. Perhaps because digital platforms and their ecosystems function as highly efficient intermediaries that increase the flow of goods and services at substantially lower costs, we’re experiencing a temporary downward adjustment and growth will resume from a new baseline. As a result of this complexity, strategies to encourage future growth are challenging and diverse.

At the country level, the literature suggests strategies such as: developing economic measures to supplement GDP and better inform public policy in the digital age; create policies to increase skills training and corporate technology purchases to increase adoption of new technologies; develop policies to encourage experimentation in new technologies and business models; focus on improving the quality and lowering the cost of healthcare and education; increase immigration; enable Soft Innovation Resources; and refine international taxation and shipping practices to increase fairness in the shipping and taxation of digital goods and services.

At the company level, the literature suggests strategies such as: lagging firms should invest in skills training and increase the adoption of new technologies; leading firms should include the enablement of Soft Innovation Resources into their R&D and product development activities; and expand current products and services into platforms and expand platforms into platform ecosystems.

Selected articles and websites

The Economist – Measuring Economies – The trouble with GDP
Harvard Business Review – How Should We Measure the Digital Economy?
OECD – Are GDP and Productivity Measures Up to the Challenges of the Digital Economy?
Robert Gordon – Declining American Economic Growth Despite Ongoing Innovation
Watanabe, et al. – Measuring GDP in the digital economy: Increasing dependence on uncaptured GDP
Tou, et al. – Soft Innovation Resources: Enabler for Reversal in GDP Growth in the Digital Economy

Additional references

MIT – GDP-B: Accounting for the Value of New and Free Goods in the Digital Economy
British Government – Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics: Final Report (2016)
US Bureau of Economics Analysis – Valuing ‘Free’ Media in GDP: An Experimental Approach
Investopedia – Definition of consumer surplus
OECD – Measuring the Digital transformation
World Economic Forum – Welcome to the age of the platform nation
Forbes – Uber will lower GDP
United Nations – Human Development Index
OECD – Better Life Index
OECD – Unified Approach to taxation in the digital economy

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

Gaming industry meets the platform economy

In this signal post we discuss the opportunities and threats in how the platform economy is changing the gaming industry. While digitalisation and the internet have already transformed the sector in many ways, technical and business models innovations are continuously giving new shape to the market. Legislative and regulatory approaches are also changing, with a strong need to address the risks and negative impacts involved. Consumer protection and money laundering are just two examples of the societally and economically important challenges in the core of gaming.

In simplified terms, gambling means wagering of money on an uncertain event and uncertain outcome, with the aim of winning more money. Gambling entails consideration and risk-taking as well as the promise of a prize. The word ‘gaming’ is typically, and in this signal post, used in reference to legal gambling, i.e. gambling services (not computer, video and mobile games, although connections to those will be discussed in the last paragraph) offered by companies in compliance with the law. These laws do, however, differ greatly between countries and regions, ranging from total bans to strategic gambling tourism as in Monaco or Macau.

Good (and not so good) use of platform strategies

Online gambling providers employ the same strategies found in other areas of the platform economy. Their systems are based on an eCommerce platform upon which various games and offerings are built. While many operate in a business to consumer (B2C) model, others also offer products and services in a business to business (B2B) model. By gathering feedback from their user base and testing new products and services, the online gambling providers create an ecosystem around their platform to drive innovation and build their customer base.

Providers that are licensed through countries with strict regulatory frameworks, such as in Europe and North America, are obligated to operate in a transparent and responsible manner. There are other countries with less robust regulations and in some cases, online gambling providers operating there use platform technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts to both build trust with their customers and to operate without complying with regulatory and tax laws.

European context

A recent study prepared for the European Commission paints a picture of the European regulatory landscape for online gambling. Taking into account the growing consumption of online gaming, the report addresses the many challenges that urgently require a stronger regulatory response, such as gambling addiction, protection of minors, consumer protection, integrity of sports, money laundering and crime. What makes regulating and enforcing regulations extremely complex in the online environment is that gambling services are offered across borders, often by virtual gambling facilities that may consist of layered eco-systems of service providers. Services are also available 24/7, their use is made extremely convenient, transactions take place immediately and the user may perceive the game experience as being anonymous.

The study emphasizes the importance of European level action. However, specific European Union (EU) level regulation is not suggested, which is in alignment with previous communications by the European Commission. National policies, and therefore national regulations, share a lot of objectives but have also major ideological differences. Harmonisation would, therefore, be a step too far at this point, but joint efforts in effective enforcement, for example, is in the interest of all parties.

The online gaming and betting operators established, licensed and regulated within the EU have organised themselves as the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA). The aim of EGBA is to ensure a safe and reliable European digital environment for online gaming by working together with national authorities, EU authorities as well as other stakeholders. The association is committed to a high level of consumer protection while developing regulated services with the goal to be attractive enough to channel users away from unregulated offers.

According to EGBA, the online gambling market in Europe has an annual growth of around 10% and the gross profits of the sector are expected to grow to €24.7 billion in 2020. Comparing online and land-based gambling, in 2017 the ratio between the two was 21:79. The top three most popular online offers are sports betting (40%), casino games (32%) and lotteries (13%). Interestingly, Europe is the leader, with the share of European services accounting for 49% of the global online gambling market in 2017. The international business opportunities for European gaming services is expected to grow further, especially in several US states where sports betting was recently legalised.

Case of Finland

In Finland, the gaming system is based on the exclusive right principle, and since the merger in 2017, all gambling games are being offered by one single operator Veikkaus Oy. The company is owned by the Finnish State, and the offering covers lucky games, slot machines, instant games and skill games, with one-third of its activity taking place online. Veikkaus has a strong obligation and commitment to operate games responsibly and mitigate risks, and the revenue generated is used for societal causes in its entirety. This means that roughly one billion euros per year is distributed, via the relevant ministries, to beneficiaries in culture, sports, science, youth work, etc.

Even with the long tradition and strong value basis, debates about Veikkaus and the Finnish gaming system in general get heated from time to time. For example, last autumn Veikkaus’ new strategy aimed to address the public discussions about whether the fact that revenues benefit the common good justifies the problems caused, and typically these problems are being borne by those in the weakest position. Building a safe and more responsible gaming environment is one of the big strategic goals of Veikkaus, and the decision to speed up the adoption of compulsory identification on slot machines is one practical step. This means that starting in January 2021 Veikkaus will introduce new technology that will better prevent underage gaming as well as enable players to set a ban on their own gaming.

When it comes to the digital and online world, Veikkaus is a pioneer in esports solutions, and it was among the first companies in the world to offer legal esports betting in 2014. Service development in the esports domain is continuous, and products, services and platforms around esports have been developed in collaboration with Veikkaus and others using a unique concept, the Innovation Challenge Week. The winner last year was German GameBuddy, with their innovation of a social community platform for gamers.

Interesting insights into the Finnish case are also found in the survey commissioned by Kasino Curt in 2019 that gathered citizens’ views on the monopoly, political decision making and negative impacts around gaming. One clear finding is that Finns are not fully content with the current mitigation actions to fix problem gaming: 27% of respondents said enough was done, whereas 44% disagreed. 58% went so far as to agree that gambling machines should be removed from everyday environments such as grocery stores, but 29% would not make such changes. A majority of respondents also thought Finland should break away from the monopoly and introduce a licensing system instead, totalling 40%, whereas 29% disagreed on this. The gaming market and industry implications of such a change would be significant. Public discussions comparing future alternatives are active, and the pros and cons of the licensing system option should be studied carefully in order to see if licensing could be a viable approach in the increasingly global gaming environment expressed in the platform economy.

Connections to computer, video and mobile games

Millennials and Generation Z have grown up in a digital world with easy access to computer, video and mobile games. They have a preference for entertainment where there is skill involved and there is the option to play against other players. Not only are online gambling providers catering to this preference, but physical casinos are starting to replace traditional slot machines with games that resemble video games in an effort to attract younger customers. Additionally, these younger generations grew up playing on multi-player game platforms like Fortnite, CS:GO, and Defence Of The Ancients (DOTA) and are now driving the demand for professional esports tournaments and esports betting.

The near-ubiquitous presence of tablets and mobile device platforms means young people have unprecedented access to mobile games. In many cases, these are simple entertainment.  However, there is a growing segment social casino games that are introducing young people to virtual gambling. Social casino games simulate typical card and table games but players wager virtual credits and no money changes hands. The games are often integrated into social media platforms and the outcomes are not always random. Instead, they are based on psychological theories that increase engagement and player satisfaction. In some cases, online gaming providers also produce social casino games and there is growing concern that the use of social casino games amongst young people is a “gateway” to money gambling in adulthood that may contribute to gambling addiction.

Selected articles and websites

Alison Drain: White Paper, The Converging of the Gaming and Gambling Ecosystems
Esportsearning: Top Games Awarding Prize Money
European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA)
Hackernoon: What is the Future of Gambling Industry?
Hyoun S. Kim: Social Casino Games: Current Evidence and Future Directions
Kasino Curtin tilaama tutkimus osoittaa: suomalaiset eivät luota kansanedustajiin rahapeliasioissa
MintDice: How Cryptocurrency is Changing Online Gambling in Europe
NewsBTC: MECA Coin – Creating a Democratized Online Gambling Ecosystem on Blockchain
Publications Office of the European Union, 2018: Evaluation of regulatory tools for enforcing online gambling rules and channelling demand towards controlled offers
Veikkaus: German GameBuddy wins Veikkaus Innovation Challenge Week
Veikkaus: Responsibility for the individual in focus in Veikkaus’ new strategy – compulsory identification on slot machines brought forward by a year
Veikkaus: Veikkaus – a Finnish gaming company with a special mission
Veikkaus: Veikkaus to hold an Innovation Challenge Week to find startups and begin collaboration – focus on esports
Wikipedia: Gambling

Heidi Auvinen

Senior Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network

Platforms and eco-consciousness drive innovation in the pulp and paper industry

Finland is a global leader in the pulp and paper industry. It’s an industry that’s undergoing rapid change and modernization. In this signal, we look at the significant impact platforms are having on the entire value chain of the industry, such as driving innovative developments in products and production techniques.

Once considered a traditional resource industry, pulp and paper producers have been forced to innovate and re-invent themselves in response to the rise of platforms such as eCommerce, online food delivery and e-mail. Growth opportunities are being created as eco-conscious consumers are demanding sustainable alternatives to oil-based plastics and foam. In response, pulp and paper companies are developing innovative ways to use wood fibres in packaging, cosmetics, hygiene, clothing, and electronics, among other things.

In a market that’s focused on improving margins and product quality while remaining price competitive, the internal operations of pulp and paper producers are benefiting from digital platforms such as smart sensors, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), big data and augmented reality (AR).

The pulp and paper producers that are likely to experience the highest rate of future growth are the ones that transition even further from being B2B or B2B2C entities toward being part of an ecosystem that focuses on close interactions between forestry suppliers, package printers, brand owners, retailers and end consumers, as well as other industrial sectors. Successful ecosystems will draw on multiple platforms and create what’s known as a “circular bio-economy” based on sustainable forestry, minimizing production waste products and greenhouse gases and maximizing recyclability.

The decline of paper

The advancement of digital platforms and eco-consciousness has resulted in a rapid slowdown in demand for traditional paper products since 2015 when the worldwide demand for newsprint and writing paper declined for the first time ever. Digital platforms for e-mail, news, and electronic payments have displaced paper products like newsprint, printing paper and banknotes. On the other hand, specialty papers, such as photographic paper, have been impacted by the rise of digital photography and photo-sharing platforms like Instagram, Google Photos, Flickr and Facebook.

The rise of packaging

While annual growth in the global paper and paperboard market has slowed, the segments experiencing rapid growth are tissue, packaging, and specialty papers such as food wrappers and labels. In the next 5 years, over half of this growth will occur in emerging markets, with China and India having the highest rates of growth as average incomes increase and shopping patterns change to include more packaged goods and online purchases.

eCommerce platforms create growth opportunities

The rapid growth of eCommerce platforms like Amazon and Alibaba is creating opportunities for the pulp and paper industry. By 2022, online sales are expected to make up about 15% of global retail spending. In addition to increased demand for shipping boxes and packing materials, the drive for increased sustainability is leading to the development of lighter and stronger packaging materials to reduce shipping costs and CO2 emissions during transport.

As eCommerce platforms look to improve operational efficiency and reduce the time needed to prepare packages for shipping, there’s demand for modular shipping boxes that can be filled quickly and are compatible with robotic and automated packing and fulfillment systems. Further efficiencies can be gained by the convergence of primary packaging (which contains the product) and secondary packaging (the shipping container) so the primary package is robust enough to be shipped without the need for secondary packaging.

Smart packaging is an emerging trend in both traditional retail and eCommerce markets. In some cases, smart packaging involves placing “invisible” markers that can be seen by mobile phone apps that tell consumers additional information about the product. In other cases, smart packaging is “active packaging” that contains sensors to monitor location, temperature, tampering, etc. For high-end luxury products, an active package may contain a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip so the end-user can validate the authenticity of the product.

Innovative pulp and paper solutions address the needs of food delivery platforms

Online food delivery platforms such as UberEats, DeliveryHero, Wolt, Fiksuruoka and are growing rapidly in most developed countries. By 2025 global revenue for these platforms is expected to more than double to USD$200 billion. Asia accounts for over half of the global market. While these global revenue numbers are impressive, it’s important to consider that currently only about 10% of the world’s population has access to online food delivery platforms. Along with online food delivery, demand is increasing for pre-packaged ready-to-eat meals and grab-and-go/take-out hot meals and salads.

As food delivery platforms grow, so does the need for packaging and containers. As consumers become more eco-conscious and some jurisdictions introduce legislation to limit single-use plastics, significant opportunities are being created for innovation and growth in the pulp and paper industry. Pulp and paper-based products, such as those from foopak and metsaboard are made from recyclable bioplastics and wood fibres, which are a viable alternative to replace oil-based plastic and foam used in packaging and utensils.

One important area of innovation is the development of eco-friendly barrier coatings. Because pulp and paper products absorb liquids and allow oxygen to pass, they must be coated to be used as food and beverage containers. Initially, many barrier coatings were oil-based plastics, which impacted the recyclability of the containers. Innovative new barrier coatings made from bioplastic and water-based materials, such as Protean, are now available and continue to evolve.

Platforms improving operations

The production of pulp and paper-based products requires complex processes and significant investment in facilities and machinery. Platforms are being used by producers to maintain product quality, production efficiency, and improve product margins. Big Data and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) allow machinery to be monitored and fine-tuned. These platforms are also used to forecast demand, analyse production costs, and optimize product pricing. Augmented Reality (AR) platforms are being used to provide operators with real-time data and 3D animations to support training, operation and maintenance functions.

While some pulp and paper producers are implementing these technologies themselves, other producers are turning to technology partners that offer comprehensive service platforms. For example, Valmet, Metso, Andritz, and ABB offer service platforms providing equipment, proactive maintenance, analysis and optimization, control and (remote) operation of the production system.

Selected articles and websites

ABB – Integrated Solutions for Improved Pulp and Paper Mill Productivity
Andritz – A global service organization to ensure high plant availability and top-tier equipment performance
Anomera – Bio-Cosmetics
BBC – Could ‘invisible barcodes’ revolutionise recycling?
Domtar – Personal Care Products
Foopak – Paper Packaging Innovation
Forbes – The Soon To Be $200B Online Food Delivery Is Rapidly Changing The Global Food Industry
Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) – The Circular-Bioeconomy in agriculture and forestry
Lenzing – Bio-Textiles
Making of Tomorrow – Creating a Bio-Based and Easily Recyclable Packaging Material
McKinsey & Company – Packaging solutions: Poised to take off?
McKinsey & Company – Pulp, paper, and packaging in the next decade: Transformational change
MetsaFibre Bio-Product Mill
Metso – Digitalization in pulp & paper – Optimizing processes based on valve performance data
Mondi Group – E-commerce Packaging
Mondi Group – Mailer Bag
Paper Advance – 5 key trends disrupting the paper and board market
Paper Advance – Finnish pulp and paper industry is on the move
Paper Industry World – The paper mills of the future available today
Platform Value Now – Platforms and Forestry
Proship Automated Packaging Solution
Protean Barrier Coatings
Pulp and Paper Canada – Consumer Demand for Sustainable Packaging to Boost Paper Coatings Market
Pulp and Paper Canada – Market Outlook: Pulp Prospects
RFID Journal – NFC Applications for Wine and Spirits Brands
Two Sides – The Smart Packaging Revolution
Valmet – Dialogue with Data Takes the Industrial Internet to a New Level
Valmet – Industrial Internet and Remote Solutions for Higher Process Yield
Vision 2040 of the European Forest-Based Sector
VTT – Greener electronics from spent grain and pine bark

Phill White

Research Scientist Global X-Network