How to unlock the potential of mission-based ecosystems

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: John Romeo, Managing Partner and Head of Oliver Wyman Forum, Oliver Wyman & Hanna Moukanas, Partner and Head of France, Oliver Wyman & Anthony Charrie, Partner, Public Sector Practice, Oliver Wyman & Yamuna Subramaniam, Engagement Manager, Financial Services, Oliver Wyman & Mridula Sairam, Senior Consultant, Oliver Wyman & Juliet Kirby, Senior Consultant, Oliver Wyman


  • In our first blog we outlined the principles of ‘mission-based ecosystems’ and discussed how purpose-drive collaborations can address complex challenges.
  • In part two we examine how ambitious leaders have begun implementing this ecosystem approach, with case studies on green mobility and financial crime.
  • These successful examples of ecosystems can help us to unlock the potential of future missions to create positive impact on a global scale.

Long-term global challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic, are compelling businesses and policymakers to reimagine their roles in a more complex environment. However, many leaders are limited by resources, expertise, and influence, to tackle these multifaceted challenges on their own, as we discovered through discussions conducted with dozens of world leaders (part of our joint project with the World Economic Forum). So how can governments and companies transition to a more resilient future?

Mission-based ecosystems

Mission-based ecosystems offer an effective approach to solve many of the world’s complex issues by aligning commercial interests and societal needs with multi-stakeholder collaboration, anchored in a shared purpose. Through seamless sharing of data, knowledge, and assets, ecosystem stakeholders are better equipped to co-create an idea, product, or service solution that they could not have created as effectively in silos.

A few ambitious leaders have already begun putting this ecosystem approach into practice with a variety of missions. Here, we examine three examples of how ecosystems designed to support green mobility and financial crime are having a positive impact. We also share five key steps leaders can take to initiate a mission-based ecosystem and effect change.

1. Accelerating electric vehicle (EV) adoption in Norway

Norway is a leading example of a national level ecosystem, focused on accelerating the transition to EVs to meet ambitious global climate targets by 2050. The nation’s transition to EVs was interestingly catalyzed by two individuals – A-ha’s lead singer Morten Harket and environmental group Bellona’s president Frederic Hauge – who drove an imported electric Fiat around Oslo while refusing to pay road tolls and parking fee. The government and the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association subsequently accelerated this transition by establishing a Norwegian EV ecosystem by bringing together various players with a clearly defined mission of ensuring that all new cars sold nationally will be zero-emission by 2025.

Norway overcame the cost challenge inherent to adopting new technology with a green taxation shift, which reduced the production cost and lifetime ownership cost of EVs. Above and beyond this, a multi-stakeholder ecosystem worked on extending the country’s capital intensive EV infrastructure and developing new wireless charging and battery technologies to drive mass adoption of EVs. Ecosystem-wide sharing of real-time information on EV usage and charging patterns, as well as the introduction of fast charging as a paid service has now set the path to commercially viable EV market with self-sustaining operations.

The most effective orchestrators of mission-based ecosystems have the required financial wherewithal, influence on broader society, and ability to look beyond immediate term profit motives to act on a longer-term ambition. Norway’s carefully designed ecosystem has allowed a gradual shift from government incentives to commercial incentives and growth, leaving ecosystem participants motivated to collaborate over the long-term and EVs making up 60% of new car purchases.

Figure 1. Norwegian EV ecosystem key collaborators and contributions.
Figure 1. Norwegian EV ecosystem key collaborators and contributions.

2. Open-sharing green mobility in Singapore

Singapore is a leading example of using the ecosystem approach for more efficient green mobility solutions in which a purpose driven ecosystem of city planners, service providers and transport operators have co-created and streamlined green systems with centralized infrastructure. Each ecosystem participant contributes complementary strengths and services, committing to step change improvements over the long-term.

Backed by the government linked transport operator SMRT, a Singapore based technology startup orchestrated a mission-based ecosystem to optimize green urban mobility through Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The startup launched Asia’s first MaaS application, bringing together public transport, ride-hailing, car-pooling, personal mobility devices, accident insurance and more on a single platform. This open-sharing mechanism facilitates the exchange of data and resources critical for the coordination of mobility, booking and payments.

Singapore’s ecosystem demonstrates the impact of seamless sharing and planned utilization of data from various partners, including those with traditionally non-related offerings. The platform, structured as a modular and adaptable ecosystem is focused on changing the norms, standards, policies, and structures of the country’s mobility infrastructure and service landscape. In turn, the integration of diverse mobility and ancillary services is enhancing overall customer journey, enabling green mobility to become the default choice.

Figure 2. Singapore MaaS ecosystem key collaborators and contributions.
Figure 2. Singapore MaaS ecosystem key collaborators and contributions.

3. Sharing intelligence to fight economic crime in the UK

To stop about £100 billion in illicit funds from passing through UK legal entities every year, despite tough anti-money laundering regimes, the UK Home Office and the National Crime Agency designed a structured ecosystem that takes a “whole system” approach to economic crime. The Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime reform is a data-led ecosystem based initiative that brings together law enforcement authorities, financial institutions, tech companies, and related professionals such as lawyers and accountants to pursue this goal by enabling seamless sharing of financial information and threat intelligence.

The National Crime Agency pools financial information from various reporting entities, and after advanced analytics, redistributes this intelligence to law enforcement agencies. These agencies use this financial information no longer just to intercept financial crime, but also to halt a broader range of crimes with monetary links including human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

The UK’s financial crime ecosystem has been successful due to two factors. First, the shift to modern digital infrastructure allows seamless data pooling and a more holistic view of monetary flows and their links to broader crime. Second, a shift in incentives from overly cautious reporting by financial institutions to protect against regulatory penalties under the original SARs regime, to private sector co-investment into the ecosystem to ensure skin in the game in improving overall outcomes under the SARs reform. Thanks to this multi-stakeholder commitment and collaboration, the UK continues to remain a global financial centre.

Figure 3. UK SARs reform ecosystem collaborators and contributions.
Figure 3. UK SARs reform ecosystem collaborators and contributions.

Creating chains of solidarity

In our work across diverse sectors, we see systemic change when individuals and businesses come together as an ecosystem that converges on the 4Ps: planet, people, prosperity and partnershipsto pursue a shared mission and solution. Strong and diverse relationships within ecosystem constructs create “a chain of solidarity” and spur innovation for the greater good.

Below, we distill five key steps to creating a mission-based ecosystem and drive systemic change.

Our case studies show promising mission-based ecosystems serve as proofs of concept, but to solve today’s problems at scale, the world needs many more ecosystems to emerge in a coordinated manner. The time is now to unlock the potential of collaboration and rebuild a more prosperous, equitable and resilient future – one ecosystem at a time.

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