If we regard megatrends as “waves in economic activity” (known as Kondratieff waves or supercycles), they appear to be shortening. Here is an illustration of five waves, and there is considerable evidence to suggest that we are heading for a sixth. We don’t yet know where this trend will lead. The following components will probably become important factors in technical development:

  • Globalisation with a more closely linked world.
  • The world’s largest economies will be in Asia.
  • An aging population in many countries will lead to changes in consumer patterns, new views on working life, and increased demands for more and improved healthcare.
  • New lifestyles and values will take root. Ethics, individual solutions and personal wellbeing will become increasingly important.
  • A more widespread understanding of how humans affect the environment will make sustainable development and growth, as well as social responsibility, more significant components.

The significance of climate issues has grown rapidly, and has gained a solid foothold in public debate. If more people take the threat of climate change seriously, new consumer patterns will emerge. At present, there are clear indications that cleantech (clean technology) will be an important component in the sixth wave.