Being on Fire in Life Science: New market sought

Case study and task


Core Processes

You have applied to be the CEO of a small Swiss chemical company, "ANO" (Animal Nutrition Optimisation: the name has been changed). The Head of Development shows you around the development lab. He demonstrates flames, colours, and minerals with beautiful contours. You are struck by his impressive display, and the Head of Development´s enthusiasm is infectious. His greatest pride is a small box full of equipment, including 100 test tubes. He says: "We can do quite a bit here; all agents (he means molecules and materials) can be simulated for their effectiveness in the intestinal tract." He adds: "Here you only see the in vitro part, but the in vivo experiments are also important and they provide us with appropriate feedback to optimise the in vitro model ... and everything is stored in this one box."

You already know that during in vivo experiments different mineral combinations are fed to different groups of animals and are evaluated after collecting relevant data.

You sketch out the two most important core processes of ANO:

Which means: that there is the research and development process (above). This process often takes years. The input is always the customer´s problem. After research, in vivo and in vitro tests, a new product is introduced to the market, which is either produced in-house or licensed, i.e. is transferred into the second process.

Value chain
The company is testing different minerals to see whether they stabilise the digestive system of meat-producing animals. If a feed has too many minerals, they are not fully absorbed by the animal and are then released into the environment. Therefore, the dosages are strictly controlled by law in order to minimise adverse effects on the environment. If, however, an animal does not receive enough minerals, it either becomes ill or does not grow: for meat production this is a major concern. In addition, the likelihood of needing to use antibiotics is increased, which is both expensive and undesirable for ecological reasons. ANO’s products reduce the likelihood of such a disease outbreak without an increase in the dosage of the mineral substances.

This means that the company lies far forward in the value chain:


ANO receives raw materials from chemical companies, produces the minerals, and supplies these to premix manufacturers. Premix manufacturers combine additional products such as vitamins to the minerals and deliver the premix to the feed mills. These mix the premix together with energy sources such as grain and deliver it as finished feed to farmers. There are premix manufacturers that supply directly to the farmer and also feed mills that agronomists have adapted to independently manufacture the finished feed. Via the slaughterhouse and retailers the meat finally reaches the end consumer.

After talking with the Head of Development you meet with the Chairman of the Board. He explains the following problem: "Look, our vision is to make a contribution to nutritional and environmental solutions with our chemical know-how. At the moment we are very focused in one area and it’s very difficult for us to break out of this sector. " He laughs; "Our client focus has practically made us agronomists. We don’t want that. We love chemistry! "
He adds: "Please prepare a plan for me on how we can use the same products in other fields of application - if you can do that, the CEO position is yours". You ask, "What specific applications do you mean? Can you give examples?" He replies: "Look, I want you to be creative, but perhaps it is possible to reduce diarrheal disease in the slum areas of developing countries? We have the products to do so. Or something along those lines."
"Well then," you reply, "I´ll look around the company a bit and then get to work".

When you said "look around the company" you meant that you would conduct a SWOT analysis. Your result:

The SWOT analysis is used to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation in the context of trends in the market environment. Your goal now is to find, based on this SWOT analysis, a new business opportunity for the company.


1. Read the case

2. Study the background materials

3. Check your knowledge by completing the multiple choice questions

4. Create a team that has the necessary skills to solve the case or join an existing team

5. Solve the case according to the assignment


7. As soon as you have completed the case, your work will be evaluated by instructors, experts, and your team members, and you will receive a certificate and feedback



1. Create a document and list potential applications for supplements for the digestive tract. You can use creativity techniques to identify new scopes of application. Identify the needs of a secific target group which is driven by gains or pains in the intestinal tract. 

2. Identify trends (with accompanying facts and figures) in the social, economic, ecological, and technological environments that should be considered when selecting additional application areas. Use these trends to evaluate the areas of future application, and select those that seem to promise the greatest chance of success.

3. Suggest (international?) strategic partnerships that can help to develop your selected areas of application. (These should ensure that the company doesn’t need to establish market knowledge by itself).

4. Determine possible methods to evaluate the potential of your suggested partnerships.