I want to tell a story, a personal story related to business. Growing up in Norway I used to spend all my time skateboarding. I spent endless hours perfecting tricks on the ramp, trying to get into the right mind-set to pull off new, spectacular and daring moves.
As a CEO of Aker BioMarine I find my background in skateboarding to be of great value and inspiration. Before you drop from the top of the ramp, you have to be 100 percent focused on the trick ahead; knowing what you want to pull off, and being convinced that you can do it. If you start doubting your ability while going down the ramp, you will fall – and fail. As in business, you have to be totally committed, and you have to go all in. This is of course no recipe for guaranteed success. There are wins and there are failures in business life – but the value of passion and believing that you have the skill to pull it off, makes you stand out.
It can be difficult to understand the world we are living in, and it is even more difficult to make precise predictions for the future. But something we know for a fact. There are big challenges ahead. In 2050, within our lifetime, we will have surpassed ten billion people on this planet, which means food production will need to increase by 69 per cent in the same period. As our resources are already stretched in many areas, we need to step up the game and find new ways of producing healthy and sustainable foods without compromising the health of our planet.
We might feel like we are getting healthier, going to the gym, and drinking our green smoothies. But the reality is quite the opposite. Statistics show that we are becoming more and more unhealthy because of the lifestyles we choose to live. A report from the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health say that during the next 15 years healthcare costs related to treating lifestyle diseases that can be prevented by our products will accumulate to more than 22 trillion dollars globally.
Aker BioMarine is dedicated to improving human and planetary health. We have, over the years, managed to build a business around harvesting krill in the Antarctic, refining the important nutrients in it, researching their biological effects and commercializing our finds.
Krill are tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans that are an essential part of the Antarctic ecosystem. Since day one we have worked closely and sought advice from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other organizations, to ensure that our operations are fully transparent – and that we harvest in a sustainable manner. We truly believe businesses that are addressing the global challenges today will be more profitable and have greater growth potential in the future.
Krill oil is scientifically proven to be a super source of marine omega-3s – which can reduce the risk of several lifestyle diseases, including heart and brain-related issues. The United States are one of the regions in the world where the population suffers from omega-3 deficiency, according to a study published in Progress in Lipid Research. That is something we want to do something about.
We have a clear strategy to be an important player, helping solve some of our global challenges. However, being a pioneer in this field is difficult. It takes time and energy to develop a market, and there have been numerous setbacks along the way. But the big wins drive us forward. We believe our long-term goal leads us to making better decisions each and every day – and that over time, we will manage to get there by being totally committed to our course.
The future for our planet looks gloomy right now, but what if we could find a way to change it? That’s what we aim to do. We invest heavily in innovation and research, specially related to krill and the omega-3 market. Numerous studies indicate that most people are omega-3 deficient, which has become a global health concern. We recently partnered up with several industry players to promote greater awareness of health issues associated with low omega-3 levels.
As part of our extensive research, we have also started a scientific experiment with recruits in the U.S. Army Ranger Training School. The study aims to determine whether krill oil can improve the physical and mental performance among 460 army recruits – which are some of toughest people on this planet. The study is expected to be finished by 2018. In addition to understanding the physical and mental performance, such studies are important as they can inspire new role models among young people and potentially help prevent lifestyle diseases before they become irreversible.
Standing at the top of the ramp, just before you drop, can feel scary. But when you know in your heart that you have spent endless hours of training and perfecting the tricks, then all you can do is let go. I still get the same feeling in business. I feel the thrill. The excitement. The joy. It can be frightening and scary sometimes – but most of all, I enjoy the ride – and hopefully play a role in resolving some of our greatest challenges.
At Aker BioMarine we are not focused on short-term goals. We have raised the bar, and work to improve human and planetary health for generations to come. – Matts Johansen, CEO of Aker BioMarine.