From drugs to innovation

Sweden is a hot innovation country. We are top three on almost every big innovation ranking and furthermore we are reasonably neutral in our politics. This means Swedish competence in innovation is globally desirable and it is time to take the chance while the window of opportunity is open.
We at Idélaboratoriet have taken orders of around 6 million Swedish kronor the past year to help develop the innovation potential of the Colombian 4 million-city Medellin.
Medellin has set the goal to become the most innovative city of South America, instead of being most famous as the home fortress of drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Medellin, Colombia Photo: laloking97, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Medellin, Colombia Photo: laloking97, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

About the mission

We are proud that we won the assignments in competition with a number of large and well known agencies around the world such as IDEO (USA) and Penza (Israel). Idélaboratoriet have implemented and will implement programs such as educations in innovation management, product- and prototype development as well as helping out in building the local innovation eco system.
We have also arranged a study trip for a Colombian delegation to Scandinavia, The Scandinavian Innovation Tour 2013, arranging meetings with companies like Spotify, IKEA, Hay, NovoZymes, Iittala, Rovio and Ericsson and players within the innovation system, such as the Danish Ministry of Innovation, Vinnova, Media Evolution City and Tekes in Finland.
Co-organizers of the trip where the Swedish and Colombian embassies and a lot of focus was put on tying the two countries closer together, through knowledge exchange and matchmaking.

About collaboration

We are a small company and have decided to stay small since we started, but we have at the same time always wanted to play on the global scene. If you work with excellence and a solid network, you can astound the world, even though you are small. What you need to do is build your brand and create your network. In the Medellin-assignments we have worked together with Swedish organizations like Zenit Design, Generator, Modern Management Network, Plan B, Minc, but also with foreign companies like Frog Design and Philips Design. Could some of these be our competitors? Yes. Have we cared? No. We have chosen to see it like this: we want to work with the best and most exciting organizations out there and not be narrow minded.

Emerging markets – how?

We are often asked how we got these assignments. The Internet, we say. Make yourselves known. At least, keep all the material in English. And let your Swedish multinational clients carry you out into the big world out there.

Some say we had luck. Yes, but as ski legend Ingemar Stenmark said, it’s funny that the more you practice – the more luck you have. The more you spread your message by writing books (and translating them into different languages), work with international assignments, speak at conferences, use social media – the more luck you have out in the world.

And also it’s important not to believe that everyone from emerging countries are incompetent and only bring breadcrumbs to the table. It’s about being humble and furthermore realize that the emerging markets these days often have money bags many times larger than Region Skåne. Just do it!

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