Claude Ecochard

Opportunities in the changing European Veterinary Sector

Will Artificial Intelligence be a source of opportunities for veterinary medicine?

Everyone knows the difference between a dog and a cat. We’ve all seen hundreds of cats and hundreds of dogs. In fact when you see a pet, it is very easy to tell if it is a cat or a dog. But when it comes to explaining how we structure our reasoning to arrive at this classification, it is more difficult.

For Machine Learning programs it is the same thing. They learn from data sets and then develop their own predictors (keys generated to predict categorisation) that can then be used to categorise new data.

Thus the classification assistance on diseases begins to appear in human medicine. We already have PhD courses in Computational Medicine as in Finland. It is reasonable to think that the contribution of metabolomics, with hundreds of biomarkers that can be analysed in a single drop of blood, will accelerate the knowledge of animals and the way to approach their health.

The veterinarian, employee or entrepreneur?

It is not new to say that we are seeing a feminisation of the veterinary profession. We are also seeing the emergence of increasingly large veterinary structures and even chains of tens or even hundreds of clinics, as in the United States. These models meet certain expectations of both customers and veterinarians.

Customers have access to a standardised care offer and improved availability. They can spread the payment with monthly health plans.

Veterinarians can concentrate on care without worrying about stock management, team management, accounting, with even the possibility of flexible working hours, allowing the work-life balance they want.

In parallel we see veterinarian entrepreneurs who create new business models. It can be in technology to facilitate the daily work of veterinarians (ie VetSpire, FuturePet, Pronozia) or connected objects to monitor animal behaviour (Felcana, Petinsight project).

Most often they complete their veterinary courses with training on entrepreneurship in business schools or with massive open online courses (MOOCs) such as those on effectuation (the art of entrepreneurship in the unknown). They can create startups or simply invent new approaches. I think especially of a Parisian veterinarian who specialises in treating ‘new pet animals’. She proposes providing roaming services in clinics that do not have this expertise. As an example, you have a cat and a parrot that both need veterinary care. You make an appointment at the usual clinic that already takes care of your cat and she will come to deliver the care to your parrot at the same time.

To be consistent with the first topic, this text has been written in French and translated almost instantly in English using which is a translation engine using Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning).

Claude Ecochard is a disruptive innovation senior leader at Royal Canin. His job is to support the company in terms of ‘Dream, Dare, Do’. A Master of Biochemistry and Food Engineering, he leverages his 30 years of R&D experience in the food industry to rethink the futures of the Petcare ecosystem. Passionately curious, he advocates the importance of empathy in the organisation, practices Design Thinking and effectuation principles to shape new opportunities.

He is fond of emerging Business Models in food, the cooperative economy and pet technology, looking at how to provide a positive impact on pet and pet owners’ lives. His buddy Frisko, a eight-year-old Border-line dog, is involved in most of his challenges.


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