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Welcome to the twenties!



Science fiction has been remarkably good at predicting what may happen in the future, just not exactly when it will happen. In fact, we seem to try to bring science fiction to reality through technology.

Thinking in the future is one of those things that we as humans find extremely difficult. And it is almost impossible for our human brain to think exponentially, while history shows that exponential things happen again and again. 

Exponential growth

Join me for this example of exponential growth. Take a sheet of printer paper. Fold it into half. Fold it a second time, and a third time. At this point, it’s about as thick as your fingernail. Now, imagine that you can continue folding. At seventeen folds it would be taller than a person! Now, that’s just one example of exponential growth!

Growth engines

In which fields are the biggest opportunities expected for the next five to 25 years?

  1. Nanotechnology
  2. Biotechnology
  3. Artificial Intelligence
  4. Sustainability
  5. 3D printing


The outlook for Nanotechnology for the coming years is enormous. Major breakthroughs are expected for solar cells and medicines, for example. This market is growing by almost 20% per year. This growth is expected to continue in the coming years.


One of the industries that face many changes is in biotechnology. A sector with constant research, technological improvements and more scientific discoveries. And much more change is underway! 

One of the most visible changes is the speed with which the Covid-19 vaccines were brought to the market. Where they used to take up to a decade to develop new vaccines, was now recently done in just a matter of months! And we will see much more of this. We will see much more personalized medicines, cloud solutions, drug research and focus on immune cell function in the years to come.

Artificial Intelligence

The developments in AI technologies, such as machine learning, natural language processing and robotics are mind blowing. AI is expected to complement our workforce rather than just eliminate more jobs. It’s fascinating how the collective intelligence of people and computers together can solve business problems that not long ago were considered impossible.


The climate crisis is an existential threat to the way we have lived our lives in the past 125 years. We now have 7.7 billion people on our beautiful planet. But we are depleting our planet's natural resources much faster than nature can repair itself. Hardly anyone doubts this anymore. We have been living in imbalance with the earth for many years.

There is so much work to be done to minimize the effects of climate change as best we can. Our best case scenario is now that we are trying to limit global warming to under an average of two degrees celsius. 

The reality is, there is not a realistic plan B today. We only have one planet we can live on. And while some of us, like Tesla’s Elon Musk, are working on ideas to start permanent human settlements on Mars, there is no certainty if it will ever happen. And if it does, when. I believe we better make serious changes in our approach today.

To mitigate the environmental impact to under 2 degrees celsius, a Herculan amount of labour and inventions need to be done in the next 25 years. I suspect this will be increasingly done, not only by governments, but by companies. There are companies whose worth is already more than some countries. Their impact will only increase in the years to come. Working sustainably is already their license to operate in many markets.

3D printing

In the past we knew printing mostly as printing ink on a sheet of paper. Those days are over. Nowadays we print spatial objects in 3D. From small spare parts in plastic, making new teeth in porcelain to printing bridges and entire buildings in concrete. This sector is in full development. Research shows that expected growth in this multi-billion industry will be around 23% for the coming years.

The application of 3D printing holds an enormous promise. There are savings in raw materials, transportation emissions and other costs. There will also be the creation of forms not previously possible.

Hope this inspires.

Paul Donkers

Business coach 🔘 entrepreneur | value creation | leadership teams | business leaders

Let us know if you want to have a confidential conversation with us how you can embrace these growth engines for your business.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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