Ideas for Society

How is Lund’s innovation ecosystem doing?

Christin Scheller
September 9, 2021

Lund is an important hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Currently, Lund’s innovation ecosystem is being analysed to give an overview and point out future avenues. Having everything a bike ride away as well as resources for innovators and entrepreneurs and a support system are some of the advantages. Yet the work of Jasna Pocek and Christin Scheller from the Sten K. Johnson Centre for Entrepreneurship, also show that increased coordination can boost the ecosystem.

Lund is a small city but can pride itself with being the birthplace of Bluetooth and ultrasound, the practical bike helmet from Hövding as well as the sustainable shower from Orbital Systems that saves 90% water and was developed in a project for NASA. Innovation is an important driver for the future. Whether it is about finding solutions to current problems, new ways of using resources or increasing the quality of life for people, innovation has many benefits. It contributes to renewal, improvement and provides new working possibilities. But to create innovation is a complex process in which many factors need to play together. What these factors are and how they play together in Lund and how the ecosystem is doing right now are questions that Future by Lund and two researchers from the Sten K. Johnson Centre for Entrepreneurship (SKJCE), Lund University, are interested in.

The researchers Jasna Pocek and Christin Scheller, both from the Sten K. Johnson Centre for Entrepreneurship, are therefore assessing Lund´s innovation ecosystem with the help of the Global Institute Innovation District Framework (GIID). The framework has already been applied in metropoles such as Dublin, Milan & Toronto and now it is Lund’s turn. The analysis is based on interviews with actors from the public, private and academic sector of Lund and desk research.

GIID investigates five key areas in a given ecosystem: critical mass, entrepreneurship & innovation, quality of place, leadership, diversity. Analysing Lund through the lenses of these five points should provide a holistic picture of its strengths and potential.

The critical mass category collects the hard facts about the innovation district. It asks, among others, what is the concentration of innovation intermediaries, universities, hospitals and talented workers in a given place. Lund University, the hospital, Skånes universitetssjukhus, big companies such as Axis, innovation centers like Ideon,  Medicon Village and Science Village are all located in close proximity in the northeast of Lund. This is also the area where most of the highly educated workers can be found who commute from the surrounding area to work. The concentration of actors from academia, business and even the public sector gives Lund a clear advantage since all of these actors are placed within a walking or short commuting distance.  Pierre Elzouki, serial Entrepreneur highlights that “in Lund, everything is a bike ride away.”

The researchers point out that Lund has a great and history long culture in support of entrepreneurship and innovation, making this an exciting and inspiring place to be. The geographical proximity helps innovators and entrepreneurs to reach out easily to one another and find the contacts and resources they need to realize their ideas. They all receive valuable support from science parks or incubators such as “Smile Incubator” and “Ideon Innovation”, but also already established multinational companies present in the area. Academics can additionally seek help from LU´s Technology transfer office. Accelerators (i.e., Nordic Cleantech Accelerator, Beyond) also spur the development of existing companies. Lund´s innovation and research strengths are many but some that produce consistent output are the areas of ICT, Life Science, Healthtech, Material Science and Medicine. And while Lund offers a unique mesh of knowledge, capital and other resources for start-ups, there remains potential for the development of medium sized companies or those belonging to the creative industry.

The quality of place looks into factors of accessibility, exchange between people and recreational possibilities. Lund has an excellent position, 40 min away from Copenhagen Airport and good connections with train and bus to cities such as Malmö, Göteborg and Stockholm. It is easy to move within Lund by walking, cycling or public transport. The new tramline transports people effortlessly to the hospital, the university area or Brunnshög, the new district with leading sustainable housing and the two research facilities Max IV and ESS. The district is built in a way that facilitates exchange between the people that work in Brunnshög and those who live there.

Perhaps, one of the key success components of an innovation ecosystem are the relations the stakeholders nourish. Jasna Pocek (SKJCE) looks in her research of entrepreneurship ecosystems into the factors that impact its strength. According to her findings, ecosystem stakeholders profit also from collaborating with each other since no one has all resources. The more resources are being shared and used, the stronger the ecosystem. While there are many stakeholders and resources in Lund who collaborate with one another, Lund would benefit from more coordination and perhaps a common meeting point to channel activities and efforts and therewith advance even more Lund as an international hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. This calls for more leadership in the future.

The analysis will be ready in Autumn 2021. The results inform Future by Lund work and coming efforts in the field of innovation.


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