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Society must be innovative to develop

For ideas to become reality and be of use to society requires a properly functioning innovation system that identifies ideas and helps to realise them, but also sees to it that they reach society. This is not an insignificant field of work for Johan Lilliecreutz, the new CEO of InnovationskontorEtt at Linköping University.

Johan Lilliecreutz, porträtt

Lilliecreutz is employed in a “double role” as CEO for both InnovationskontorEtt and LiU Holding. This means that he not only has to govern the work of stimulating and supporting researchers and students in taking a step out into the market with their innovations but he’s also a “bridge-builder” for several different actors in society. We took the opportunity to ask a few questions about the region’s innovative strength and his new assignment.

Innovative strength is “in”. More politicians and debate leaders than perhaps ever before are saying it’s important for Sweden’s development. However uncertainty prevails regarding this autumn’s “research and innovation bill”. How do you interpret that?

“For me, it’s completely obvious that society must be innovative to develop and flourish. At bottom, it’s an issue of the incentive to craft a better place to be, with the help of our creativity and innovative strength. Citizens need to have the fundamental feeling that it’s allowed to think in new ways and to want to go forward."

“We haven’t seen the bill yet, but of course I hope that there will be economic space for us to be able to invest even more in innovations and new ideas, in this way generating new job opportunities and contributing to increased prosperity. Political clarity is good so that we’re able to continue being a country on the leading edge; I hope this clarity is there in the government’s proposal in the fields of research and innovation."

“At the same time we must remember that a lot of money is being put into the innovation system even today, and the demand could very well increase when it’s a question of reporting on what these investments lead to – what level of efficiency we have within the system.”

Are you worried?
“No, not at all. Linköping University and InnovationskontorEtt are often mentioned as those in Sweden who might obtain the most, via good student contacts, incubator operations, contacts with the business world and technology parks. We ourselves think we have strength and dynamism in what we do.”

What are the conditions like in the region? Does the Linköping University brand stand for innovation, growth, and creativity?
“Our position is a good one! It’s a strong region; investments in the East Sweden Business Region show we’re good at collaborating and getting the most possible out of the other partners in there with us."

“As far as LiU is concerned, in my old job at CMA Research I ran cluster studies that showed there are several fields of research that are really world-class. I also find that LiU continues to be a very strong motor in the region."

“However LiU today is a large organisation with many different operations and research environments. To develop the LiU brand, I think it would be desirable not to emphasize all the fields – regardless of how clever people are – for example, when promoting ourselves, to bring in students and researchers. I think it’s better to dare to sharpen our profile and be clearer about which areas are world-class."

“In InnovationkontorEtt’s work, these ‘points’ are naturally interesting, but we also know that breadth in operations is important. Ideas can often arise in meetings between different fields of research and in spin-off companies from all fields. These ‘points’ are good for showing what LiU can do, but incentives and openness throughout the entire operation are just as important.”

So what do you see for development in the future?
“I hope, and I will contribute to this, that issues of innovation are self-evident to students and researchers at Linköping University. LiU must be an environment characterised by innovative strength. We’ll continue to remove obstacles, test ideas in creative meetings, and provide support on issues like funding, patents, and business development. I want us to be a natural part of everyday life for everyone who have ideas; above all I want to see that more of these ideas lead to some form of commercialisation.

“Collaboration between LiU and the society around it, as well as organisations and businesses, will also continually be a prerequisite to develop our region. InnovationskontorEtt has an important role here.”

Text och bild: Björn Stafstedt

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Last updated: 2012-09-24