Small and large soon to team up
To remain innovative, small and large companies need each other in various ways. But the community-building sector hasn’t yet developed a systematic way for the two types of companies to meet. Johanneberg Science Park wants to change that. Its new concept, ‘Innovation through Cooperation – Small Meets Large’, has received funding for a feasibility study in 2021.
The goal of the project is to develop a cooperative process that large companies automatically gain access to when they join Johanneberg Science Park. “We can put companies in touch with a string of exciting start-ups and small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), whether through our own network or through projects we co-manage with incubators,” Johanneberg Science Park’s business development manager Göran Havert explains.
The initiative was developed with the aid of Niclas Hjertqvist, a student at the Gothenburg School of Economics who wrote his thesis as part of Johanneberg Science Park’s Matix programme. He analysed the factors that make it hard for smaller and larger businesses to connect and work together. It soon became apparent that major players’ innovation hubs don’t give the community-building sector (including its construction and housing companies) the same type of backing other sectors get.
“Ericsson’s Garage and Volvo’s Mobility XLab are two examples of programmes that stimulate innovation in their respective sectors. Within the community-building sector, however, things don’t proceed as smoothly: there’s a need for broader cooperation and a greater sense of shared responsibility. Johanneberg Science Park could help bring this about by developing processes that link companies to each other and map their needs,” Katarina Nordström says. Nordström works with SME issues at Johanneberg Science Park and will be the feasibility study’s project manager.
The study, which should be completed by the end of September 2021, will not only analyse the context of the project and actors’ needs, but also bring several large companies on board and identify actors in the innovation business who could contribute during the implementation phase. It’s not difficult to see how small companies could benefit from larger companies’ resources, networks and structures. But large companies too should explore smaller companies’ advantages – their innovative ideas, their flexibility and the way they keep their ear to ground – to avoid falling behind as development speeds up. More than a few large companies could do with some guidance along the way.
“The process can be rather arduous,” Katarina Nordström explains, suggesting companies dare try out and rethink ideas even at an early stage. “The method we’re developing includes coaching, to identify companies’ weaknesses. That will help us pair up companies so they can engage in collaborative innovation, which we believe will eventually strengthen both the partners themselves and the sector as a whole.”
Small Meets Large
The project is funded by European Regional Development Fund and Region Västra Götaland with a total budget of SEK 1 million. Period: 2 January 2021 and 30 September 2021.