Frontier Trader Lilith
Sig's Big Deal
On Denotam, Sig ran across a University that has a couple of very interesting patents. They’re trying to go into business by gaining the support of some concerns to use produce some things they have under patent.
The most interesting of these is a bacteria they’ve developed that comes with a device that can be used to genetically program the bacteria to perform several sorts of functions. Most notably they can be tuned to control other micro-biological stuff. Things like algae. “Control” usually meaning eat.
There are higher tech consortiums selling similar products “upstream” of Denotam(meaning towards Regina and more populous areas). But lots of worlds further down the trade rout may be good markets.
The problem with a product like this, and many such products in the Imperium, is identifying customers. So the university has engaged another company that does “Fourth Party Engagement.” Meaning that they sell a product which has to do with the customer being able to reach out and get what they want. The company in question doesn’t just do this for the University, of course, but for a wide range of products.
So one of the trade opportunities is, essentially, delivering the hardware/software packages that the company uses to connect it’s customers to it’s network. The hardware is neccessary for worlds like Mirriam, where they are pre-computer tech. Otherwise just software can be sold.
There’s also another sort of side-product that’s involved, which is a DNA security measure that’s used to ensure that product demand drummed up by the fourth party is non-fraudulent (basically folks register their DNA to be allowed to subscribe to the service).
Anyhow, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It turns out that both Sharurshid and SuSAG both want to back the University to get them to go one rout or another. Sharurshid is looking at them as a speculative trading opportunity – Venture Capital if you will. They’re thinking that they ought to go with another product that’s essentially nano-bots that do concrete construction.
The university basically has enough intellectual capital to only go one way or the other: Algae eating bacteria or Concrete construction nano-bots.
Complicating this all is the fact that there are some ecology groups on some of the target planets that are concerned about the bacteria product. The scientists say this is needless, as if a proper assay is done before ordering up the proper control device, and bacterial strains makes them very unlikely to do harm to the ecologies.
You can understand, however, how the dust-fruit farmers on Mirriam feel about the potential of ruining the only export on the planet (should something go wrong).
Another complicating angle is that the Imperial Ministry of Commerce is involved, namely the Trading Standards Bureau. They want to ensure that no unfair trade imablances are introduced by a massive influx of capital to Denotam in promoting either product. Which is to say that often Megacorps like Sharurshid or SuSAG will come into a region and simply spend so much money on a project as to put whole planets out of business.
They have resources like that… even if it’s only the regional offices; the regional managers have massive powers. Several planets in the Spinward Marches are owned outright by megacorporations or even smaller corporations, for instance. Each of the megacorporations has offices on each of the worlds involved in this deal, even if that “office” is just a few folks in some cases on the smaller worlds.
The Trading Standards Bureau have to kinda try to keep a middle ground. That is, though they sound all draconic or something, in fact they have a tough position to maintain. They have to ensure that trade always seems fair in the Imperium, in order to attract and keep worlds. One of the main attractions of the Imperium is that it maintains fair trade. Which benefits all of the member worlds (in theory). But on the other hand, the Megacorporations are all invested in by powerful nobles and such, and actually in many respects wield more power than the emperor does. That is, they are the economic powerhouses that keep the Imperium churning, so it’s impolitic to piss them off. Without taxes from the megacorporations, there’d be no Imperial Navy…
One of the things that everyone’s wondering is where production will be set up. Denotam seems likely, except that it might make more sense to start something up on a planet further rimward, away from Regina.
The larger question is, of course, which megacorporation will win out, and what will end up being produced. If a network of subscribers to the fourth party software were to become “demanders” of either product in the right amount, that might well tip the scales. Combined with figuring out where the production facility would be, and how the taxation laws would be applied. And whether the world in question would be willing to sponsor a place producing potentially dangerous technology.
Another note, there’s an event that’s sort of ongoing on Frenzie called the "Trans-abyss Economic Symposium. The “abyss” is the region of space that’s to trailing (right) on the map that’s sorta lacking in stars (happens to sit right between Equus and where you guys are). The Sharurshid folks are actually being propelled by financial forces on the other side of the abyss that are looking to invest in the frontier region. The governments of the planets involved have been invited to the symposium (a mobile event that’s to hit several worlds), to discuss ways to benefit the regions in question, despite the distances.
Sharurshid, of course, is basically sponsoring investment models… this is their modus operandi. Other factors are trying to find more actual trading opportunities.
Sig has one, two, or three other broker buddies which he feels he can trust. So he uses their intel to plan his money movements. He has been out in the spinward for a while, so Sig is the “lone wolf” of the group and kind of the fringe guy. The broker buddies are interested in getting into some part of this…
The point of all of this is…there’s megacorporations looking to invest, which means that the pie that’s to be divided between those involved is monumental. The question is how to get a piece of the pie, and how big. And, also, if one was to live dangerously, possibly scamming the megacorporations or others.
Sig has found a couple of smaller corps that want the bacteria technology and he is looking for more to try to broker a deal as a coalition so they can get it without paying an arm and a leg. Since so many companies are involved, he is also bound to be bringing in his broker friends too, which means old issues there may arise.
Since the product might cost too much for some of them on the scale they’ll need to have it to be profitable, he’ll be figuring out how they can broker real-estate deals, mining rights deals and such (which many of these companies have a lot of) in order to make it work.