Chris Thoen (PhD)

Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board & IC Member (PeakBridge Growth II)

Chris Thoen is an experienced R&D executive with over 35 years of extensive (B2C and B2B) technical and innovation leadership experience in AgTech (Plant Genetic Systems), Fast Moving Consumer Goods (Procter & Gamble), Flavor & Fragrances (Givaudan), Food & Beverage (Bühler) industries as well as in startup ecosystems. Holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He is an inventor on over 80 patents and patent applications.
Why is innovation important?
I have learnt throughout my career that innovation is the lifeblood for the long term success of companies. Without innovation, we all play in the commodity field and in commodities there is only one winner, i.e. the one with the lowest price. Innovation on the other hand leads to differentiation and unique solutions which wow the consumer/customer. This also allows premium pricing which further fuels more R&D efforts for the next innovation round.
Why is curiosity important in innovation?
Innovation challenges the status quo. I found throughout my career that a great way to challenge the current situation is by being positively inquisitive and “ask the 5 Ys”. Using the “beginner’s mind” allows to challenge all the assumptions as well as the current best solutions. This often leads to new insights on the consumer’s needs, pains and desires. These new insights can then be the basis for new innovations. I have certainly noticed the power of the 5 Ys and curiosity when I interact with my grandkids (ages 3 to 5). They continuously question everything and constantly show the power of the beginner’s mind as they explore the challenges in their little world.
What else is important for great innovation?
I have learnt that the best innovations come from a diversity of thoughts and approaches. Today’s challenges are often complex and multivariable. Therefore innovative solutions benefit from a diversity of people looking at the challenge with different lenses, skills and perspectives and collaborating to develop a disruptive, differentiating solution. I have learnt over the many years that the best successful innovations often happen at the interface of different technical disciplines. Innovation is a team sport. TEAM – Together Each Achieves More!