Ecolab Inc, a United States-based global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, will invest more on innovation in China and get focused on three of its core businesses, its top management said.
“A big area of focus for us more recently has been digital innovation,” said Jill Wyant, executive vice-president of regions, Ecolab. She is also the president of the company’s global healthcare unit. “We have a corporate relationship with Microsoft in terms of some of their cloud computing platforms and solutions. We’re in the process of extending that relationship in china. We’ve hired a chief digital officer and hired someone to help us look after digital infrastructure and architecture.”
Ecolab made a multimillion-dollar investment in innovation in China. The company built a research and development center in Shanghai around a decade ago.
“We want more than double our business in China in the medium term,” said Wyant. “Our expectations are high for some reasons. One of which is the emerging middle class, so there are more opportunities for food safety.”
Ecolab, a $15 billion company in a $125 billion market, has a market share of around 11-12 percent globally.
“We see enormous opportunities here in China along with the underlying economic and societal trends, such as the emerging of the middle class, water scarcity issues and the aging population, and our business is in line with the government’s commitment toward a more healthy and beautiful China. The market is huge and we are a good fit and well-placed to grasp the opportunities here,” said Wyant.
According to her, the company has to focus to succeed in China.
“It’s a massive country. It’s rife with opportunities, and it’s got a very aggressive and vibrant customer set, but also a competitive set. That’s why we say we really focus on three big opportunity areas where we think we bring advantages that match China’s economic opportunities and its vision for society,” she added.
The first is food service, a market that is estimated to exceed 4 trillion yuan, making it the second largest in the world. The annual revenue of the food service and hospitality market has grown at double digits, providing a big opportunity for Ecolab.
And the second is around water management. This is where Ecolab brings things like the total water management capability.
“In China, we’re looking at the end use of water. And we’re leveraging out digital technologies like our 3D TRASARTM platform, where we bring digitally connected devices into industrial cooling, boiler environments, and can reduce water usage by up to 30 percent. Besides, we’re also introducing international standards on water management into the China market, in a bid to upgrade the framework and bring corporate water management to the next level,” said Wyant.
Ecolab and its client Nestlé are frontrunners on this, from setting up a systematic water management approach for protecting the Taihu basin to achieving the AWS (Alliance for Water Stewardship) standard certification in 15 drinking water factories.
The last focused area, according to Wyant, is healthcare. The company is in talks with some of the leading hospitals on better managing infectious diseases.
“China is the best place to learn how to be agile, how to be fast, how to be market focused, so we think we bring global know-how, global innovation with the willingness to invest in local Chinese capabilities and stay relevant,” said Wyant.