ERIK ASPH HENNERDAL ON A CHALLENGE FROM SWEDEN

The Swedish Energy Agency’s new platform for need driven innovation.

Jenny Lundgren 18 May 2018

”First we listen to Sweden and what people need. Then we use global innovation challenges to find solutions for test and implementation together with our growing network” says Erik Asph Hennerdal about the Swedish Energy Agency’s new platform for need driven innovation.


Cities get help to solve problems

– It’s one of our most exciting tools to speed up change towards a sustainable energy system and a fossil independent transportation sector, says Erik Asph Hennerdahl, manager of the platform.

Erik explains that A Challenge from Sweden - which is the name of the platform - isn’t just a method for driving innovation, but an international network of progressive and proactive people and organizations. They are need owners, looking for new solutions in technical innovations, services or perhaps most importantly, new business models.

– Need owners join A Challenge from Sweden because they want to be a part of the movement, and also because they look at it as crucial for their own business and competitiveness on the market.

The community of need owners include cities and municipalities along with property owners, local transportation operators and employers from both small and large companies, Erik explains.

– The core value for participating organizations is in the shared needs. Many are curious and interested in looking at new solutions to get their problems solved.

How is circular economy and ”the Ubers for X” a part of the design?

– Circular economy can be alot of things. I think we’re just getting started.

Erik mentions IKEA as the most recent example of organizations rethinking their entire business model, looking at how to turn it into a circular one:

– How can we renew and improve existing furniture instead of buying new ones? This is super exciting, and we’re seeing similar things happening in the transportation sector too, with car pools and bike sharing services emerging on the market. But again, I think we’re just looking at the very beginning of a much bigger shift.

Here’s how Energy and mobility correlate

Business models will be the center of attention, and the products merely enablers to deliver on new services, Erik says.

– Transportation is the perfect example. In order to develop sustainable mobility solutions, you need electric vehicles which in turn require a whole charging infrastructure, forcing cities to look at Energy and Transportation as one and the same.

Property owners can benefit from this in several ways. For one, it’s an opportunity to slim down the parking lot, creating new space to build more houses. Another aspect is being able to offer people smarter ways of traveling to and from home – and as an effect, attract more commercial business to the property.

Leverage through SCIENCE PARKS

- I'm thinking we could find circularity in so many areas we tend to miss. A Challenge from Sweden has a clear ambition to circle a common network of expertise, Erik explains. 

He has long been working with startups and scaleups, most recently as CEO of Create Business Incubator in Västerås.

 – I know what a strong and resilient innovation system can achieve. Within A Challenge from Sweden, we always try to have an open mind, ask questions and never assume we know best. New solutions identified through innovation contests can often be something else than what was expected. The one solving a chemistry challenge could be a stockbroker just as well as a chemist, because the stockbroker approach the problem in a complete new way.

In other words, it’s not really about finding simple answers, but to ask the right questions.

– From this point of view, incubators and science parks are crucial in supporting entrepreneurs turning ideas to commercial products. Within A Challenge from Sweden, we have strategically chosen to collaborate with science parks. They have unique local networks, a great understanding of innovation processes, and a nature of approaching complex challenges. 

Sustainable Mobility as a Service

An international project initiated by A Challenge from Sweden to meet mobility needs of tomorrow.

A Challenge from Sweden

A platform for need driven innovation founded by the Swedish Energy Agency, and co-developed with Swedish Incubators & Science Parks.