Fighting counterfeits with advanced packaging technologies

Counterfeiting in packaging industry is actually way more harmful to business prospects than most companies realise, with an estimated loss of US$ 4.5 trillion globally. This means that there is an untapped demand in the market that brands are not fulfilling today, as they are not aware of this demand being fulfilled through counterfeiters. By adopting a secure track-and-trace system, companies can better manage their operations and maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

In this edition of our ‘Tech Trailblazers’ episode series, we welcomed Kaushik Banerjee, co-founder and CEO of Noos Technologies, a company in the field of anti-counterfeit tamper evidence, warranty fraud detection, and tracking that uncovers the hidden cost of counterfeits in the supply chain with their packaging technology, provides an itemised view, helps companies protect their goods and allows customers to ascertain the difference.

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IBT: What inspired the establishment of Noos Technologies, and what core values does the company prioritise in its operations?

Koushik Banerjee: We are focused on counterfeiting and anti-counterfeit efforts, but the global scale of counterfeiting and the lack of viable solutions make the issue interesting. Packaging has been a laggard in innovation, with only recent innovations in environmental and eco-friendly packaging. The security space is growing significantly, with a market worth around US$ 200 billion globally. This leaves a vacuum in the space where no solutions are available.

Noos aims to fill this vacuum by helping brands adopt advanced packaging technology security solutions that fit into their manufacturing process and cost structure. Every brand has a different cost structure and process, and solutions should be viable for brands to protect consumers and brands. This is especially important for companies like Louis Vuitton, pharma companies, and FMCG companies, as they have different cost structures and processes.

Noos’s goal is to provide a viable solution that fits into the manufacturing process and cost structure of their products, ensuring that products reach their target customers. This is crucial, as many companies face issues that prevent their products from reaching their target customers.

IBT: Could you provide insights into the key objectives and strategic goals of Noos Technologies, particularly in terms of its role in transforming the transportation, logistics, and supply chain industries?

Koushik Banerjee: So today, if you look at companies, which often measure their operational efficiency by analysing the utilisation rate of their factories or manufacturing facilities. This helps them determine if they are producing enough to meet the demand for their products, which is a key performance indicator for executives. However, there is a gap in understanding the actual demand due to counterfeiting, which results in a loss of US$ 4.5 trillion globally. This means that there is an untapped demand in the market that brands are not fulfilling today, as they are not aware of the demand being fulfilled through counterfeiters.

To address this issue, brands can adopt a more secure track and trace system. Consumers authenticate or verify their purchases, letting the brand know that they are buying a product, whether it’s original or a duplicate. By tracing this back across the supply chain, companies can understand the unfulfilled demand and potentially increase their business. However, this approach may not always be 100% integrated, as every purchase or attempted purchase of a counterfeiting product is an unfulfilled demand that is not being met by the brand.

News technology aims to provide a competitive edge to businesses worldwide by helping them understand their untapped market or demand. By implementing a secure track and trace system, companies can better understand demand and make informed decisions about their operations. This will help them stay ahead of their competitors and ensure that their products meet the needs of their customers.

In conclusion, news technology plays a crucial role in providing businesses with a competitive edge by helping them understand and address an untapped market or demand. By adopting a secure track-and-trace system, companies can better manage their operations and maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

IBT: Noos Technologies aims to provide a competitive edge to businesses worldwide. How does the company differentiate itself from other players in the industry, particularly concerning innovation and technological solutions?

Koushik Banerjee: When we explored the market for packaging technology security, we noticed a significant gap. On one end of the spectrum, there are simple and widely used solutions like holograms and QR codes. These are cheap and easy to implement, but they often become additive over time. For instance, you start with a hologram, then add a QR code when digital solutions become popular, and maybe even add a second hidden QR code when counterfeiting becomes an issue. This approach is common and cost-effective, but it is not foolproof.

On the other extreme, we have highly secure, forensic-grade solutions used in currency, passports, and government documents. These provide top-notch security but are complex and require specialized knowledge or equipment to verify. Think about the security features in a currency note—many of these are not disclosed to the public to prevent counterfeiters from replicating them. However, this also means that ordinary people can’t always tell a real note from a fake one, and sometimes even bank staff need lab equipment to verify authenticity.

At Noos, we wanted to bridge this gap. Instead of adding layer upon layer of security features or creating overly complex systems, we aimed to develop an advanced yet user-friendly solution. Our technology allows consumers to verify authenticity with just a smartphone scan, similar to how easy it is to make a UPI payment without knowing the backend details.

We’ve even developed offline authentication solutions for regions with limited internet access, like Sub-Saharan Africa. Our goal is to provide a robust, ground-up security technology that’s easy to use and doesn’t require extensive education or special devices to verify. Brands get real-time data on scans, helping them track and protect their products globally without hassle.

IBT: Given the dynamic nature of the transportation and logistics sectors, what are the primary challenges that Noos Technologies seeks to address, and how do your solutions adapt to evolving industry demands?

Koushik Banerjee: Interestingly, the transportation and logistics world has been hit hard by events like the Suez Canal blockage and the Panama Canal water shortage, plus issues like piracy and conflicts. These highlight how vulnerable global trade routes can be.

Big companies like IKEA often lose track of their products once they leave the warehouse, even with fancy computer systems. This creates opportunities for counterfeiters to step in and make knockoffs when demand unexpectedly spikes. To fight this, companies need to get smart with their packaging technology. Counterfeiters love to copy packaging, especially during times like the COVID-19 mask shortage.

We use smart algorithms to spot fakes and categorise them based on how well they copy the original. And we do it without using traditional encryption, which can be risky. So, in a nutshell, our cool solutions keep global supply chains safe, making sure products are legit and people can trust what they buy, even when things get crazy.

IBT: How does Noos Technologies ensure data security and privacy in its transportation and logistics solutions, especially considering the sensitive nature of supply chain information?

Koushik Banerjee: So we take privacy and data security very seriously, and in fact, our technology, if you look at it, doesn’t rely on identifying a consumer to validate the technology. It can tell whether the product is authentic or not. This is on the consumer side, of course. So on the brand side, we have a lot to allow for the flexibility of hosting our solution either in the cloud or with any of these standard cloud service providers in the data centre of a particular brand.

And even today, because of regulations like GDPR and various data privacy and localization policies enforced by certain geographies and governments in different regions, there are significant considerations regarding the storage and processing of data. So we also allow our servers to sit in that particular region.

If our server needs to sit, say in Africa, for example, our solution will still work the same way. It is not dependent on where the solution is or where our server is sitting. Or if it is sitting on a firewall in China, for example, it will still function there.

IBT: How does Noos Technologies foster innovation and collaboration within the industry, and what opportunities does the company provide for startups and entrepreneurs to leverage your platform?

Koushik Banerjee: We are always keeping an eye out for new tech, especially the cool stuff happening in academia worldwide. Some smart PhD students are cooking up innovative ideas, but what really matters is whether these ideas can be put to work in real life, especially in industries facing the ever-evolving threat of counterfeiting.

That’s where NOOS comes in. We’re constantly chatting with brands in different sectors to understand what they need, and trust me, those needs are always changing. To make things easier for big brands, we’ve even teamed up with heavy hitters like SAP to integrate our solutions seamlessly.

Now, let’s talk about D2C brands, those direct-to-consumer guys. They’re all about getting their products out there, usually through platforms like Amazon or Flipkart. But here’s the catch: they often don’t know who’s buying their stuff because these platforms keep customer info under lock and key. That’s where NOOS steps in.

We help these brands understand their customers better, even before they hit the big time. By using our tech right from the start, they can build relationships with their customers and get a head start on combating counterfeiters. It’s all about protecting their brand and giving them the edge they need to succeed.

IBT: Looking ahead, what are the strategic priorities and future aspirations of Noos Technologies, particularly in terms of expanding its global footprint and enhancing its portfolio of services?

Koushik Banerjee: The main focus for the company is supporting the pharmaceutical and food sectors in India, especially with recent regulations sparked by alarming incidents like children in Africa tragically passing away due to tainted cough syrup containing chalk powder. Legal notices from Indian and US FDA agencies have heightened concerns about substandard products. It’s a big issue because if a fake product can’t be distinguished from the real deal, the government assumes it’s genuine, potentially leading to serious investigations into the brand’s operations, much like traffic violations leading to deeper probes.

Looking ahead, the company is eyeing expansion into North America, with plans for fundraising to fuel this move. Despite America’s reputation for innovation, reports suggest a worrying trend: over 60% of consumers there are unknowingly buying counterfeit goods. To strengthen their global reach, they’re forging partnerships at various levels, including with industry giants like SAP. A world free of counterfeits, and they’re already hard at work building the necessary products and solutions. By teaming up with distributors and partners, they’re determined to make this vision a reality.

Kaushik Banerjee is co-founder and CEO of Noos Technologies. He has over 20 years of experience in leading R&D product development, marketing and operations across diverse industries and company sizes.

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