In search of a more “Venturesome” Europe

by Magnus Fransson on November 14, 2011

InnovationLightbulbIn the search of silver bullets for improving the conversion ratio from ideas into successful commercial innovations, the search normally ends up in conclusions around competence and capital, and more seldom around attitude and culture. We need to educate ourselves in the fine art of competent entrepreneurship, or we need to improve the availability of capital ready to take risk.

Normally the education system is driving the first, and the venture capitalists the later. Not saying that they are wrong, but I am skeptic about the importance for an improvement of the conversion ratio. Instead I see importance for their own business, investments into the education system and access to complementing capital, with low premium tag, boosting private venture funds. Do we need yet another fund?

sweden-usI came to listen to something really interesting at the 8th annual Sweden-U.S. Entrepreneurial Forum held in Stockholm September 2011. Several speakers, and especially professor Amar Bhidé, at Tufts University, spoke about a “venturesome approach” or “venturesome consumption”.

 

I understood the concept as willingness and curiosity among public, private and consumers, in US, to invest time and resources in innovation. The door was open for an Entrepreneur, at top management, in the global companies. If this is true, what could possibly help an idea or invention better than fruitful cooperation with the market? Talk about market pull when a big US global company opens the door! This as a contrast to the famous and numerous technology push failures.

The examples in a small country like Sweden of historic successful venturesome approaches are numerous and well researched. Being a small domestic market most of the examples are public-private, like LKAB and Atlas Copco, Vattenfall and ABB, Televerket (Telia) and Ericsson. In other countries there are similar examples. From a European perspective there are good examples from the development of GSM and Airbus.

There are also industries that have successfully changed attitude towards a venturesome approach. Especially media- and fashion industry, characterized by strong brands, have embraced innovation coming from “outside”. Big shifts in industry have also occurred when during the 50-and 60’ies huge consumer groups of young people suddenly went from anonymous consumers to The Consumers. We can probably expect similar shift when older groups of the population are about to emerge on the scene, and I am sure that there are a lot more business than the booming cruising tourism.

The question I ask myself. How could Europe turn culture from a “Not Invented Here” and “I Know Exactly My Challenges” attitudes to a more venturesome approach? Structures and initiatives need to be taken!

Examples:

  • Improved translations and usage of rules and regulations around public purchasing, today hindering rather than fostering innovation.
  • Develop the PPP-model (Public Private Partnership).
  • Health and Environment, important mega trends, in need of venturesome approaches to solve the issues. Without too much bureaucracy can Europe build structures that facilitate the meeting between need and entrepreneur?
  • Research and knowledge around “The importance of being Venturesome”, rather than yet another venture fund.

About Magnus Fransson :

Senior Consultant at Bearing, working with development of sustainable solutions for places and regions. Long term experience of investment management and strategic partnering.

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