The Unlikely Inventor and the Reluctant Manufacturer: Coloplast’s Start-up Story Case Summary

Publikation: AndetUndervisningscase


In 1954, Elise Sørensen, a home-care nurse, met with the plastic-packaging manufacturer Aage Louis-Hansen to discuss a new idea she had developed: a disposable ostomy bag made of the new wonder material, plastic. Aage was reluctant to become involved, but his wife convinced him to give Elise and her idea a chance. This was the beginning of a billion-euro global success. In 2022, the resulting company, Coloplast, had around 12,000 employees worldwide and turnover of more than EUR 2.5 billion from different medical products, with the ostomy bag as the core product. However, in the 1950s, Aage and Elise were just two people making decisions in a world of uncertainty where no one could predict the future. In short, they were in precisely the same situation as many of those working with start-ups in the 2020s. The case is untraditional, as it is not about a dilemma. Instead, it is designed to spur broader discussions about innovation and entrepreneurship. However, one dilemma that could be considered based on the case is plastic as a wonder material that makes life better versus plastic as problematic waste and part of an unsustainable petroculture. The ostomy bag made life better for millions, but was it also a good innovation from a global environmental perspective? Nevertheless, this dilemma is not the main focus of the case, where the history of Coloplast is told as a start-up story taking place in the mid-1950s. Students follow how Elise got the idea, how she met Aage, and how production began.
UdgiverThe Nordic Case House
StatusUdgivet - 2022