Never a dull moment’ had always been an apt description of the corporate world, but 2020 was particularly rife with uncertainty as companies around the globe did their best to navigate the unchartered waters of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Just like any other business, Royal DSM, a Dutch multinational corporation active in the fields of health, nutrition and materials, had to reckon with profits and losses. But most importantly, in the first half of 2021, the company had to take stock of its plan to produce, together with VDL Groep, a Dutch industrial manufacturing company, the first 100% domestically manufactured FFP2 medical face masks including the critical filter materials used in the masks. Responding to the Dutch government’s resolution to diminish dependence on foreign supply chains and provide healthcare professionals with high quality face masks, the two companies formed a joint venture (JV) in September 2020. Large capital investments were made as DSM and VDL pulled their resources together to ensure an uninterrupted supply of face masks. What started as a spontaneous, all hands on deck, reaction to help the government deal with an imminent face mask shortage back in March 2020, gradually became a corporate venturing project for DSM. Now, in February 2021, the plan to set up the entire production of face masks from raw materials to finished products in the Netherlands was well on its way and the JV was to fulfil its goal. But what next? DSM and VDL had to think about the long-term viability and the next steps for the JV.

Case Study