Soup and Science - a luncheon filled with passion, curiosity and courage

Chalmers aims for top position within innovation and entrepreneurship - but what does this really mean in practice, what is the game plan and what does an incubator do?
Friends of Chalmers (Chalmers Vänner) invited their guests to the House of William Chalmers (Chalmersska Huset) for an autumnal wild chanterelle soup whilst Linnéa Lindau (Z02) painted an engaging picture of Chalmers’ ambitions and plans for venture. The task, explained Linnéa, is to increase the entrepreneurial spirit or,  quite simply, to “contaminate Chalmers with entrepreneurship”.

Linnéa’s career and reputation within entrepreneurship is second to none. Her experience include, for instance, the
successful development of numerous startups at Chalmers Innovation and driving the development as managing director of companies such as Layerlab, Encubator and its’ portfolio company Acosense. Linnéa can also capitalize on an extensive experience gained from various board and chairman positions, today she serves as director to five boards. In 2012 Linnéa was awarded what is sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Innovation”, the SKAPA Award, for her successes whilst running Acosense.

Linnéa is appointed as managing director with a goal to position the newly founded company Chalmers Ventures as the world leader amongst university linked venture creation. The introduction of Chalmers Ventures will create a clarity between the actors on the innovation arena and assist in enabling suitable utilization. For instance, not everyone who has an idea is by definition an entrepreneur nor does every researcher want to run a company. Linnéa explained about some of the options available and how Chalmers Ventures will be able to support on the various routes to venture creation.
A hard task, it may seem. However, in Linnéa’s mind this is instead a positive challenge that will create new possibilities. It gives a clear focus how Chalmers can be part of strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit in the region. For instance, all Chalmers students shall now be able to gain entrepreneurial experience during their education. Previously, this has predominantly been granted students at Chalmers’ Graduate School of Entrepreneurship.

Linnéa also drew the attention to the history of entrepreneurship that has been the very essence of Chalmers from the start – from William Chalmers, himself an 18th century Entrepreneur to Chalmers alumna Vera Sandberg, Sweden’s first female engineer and not to forget Chalmers’ first Nobel Laureate Gustaf Dalén.

From passed times Linnéa turned to lift some of today’s entrepreneurs from Chalmers – Martin Lorentzon (Spotify), Niklas Berg (Avinode) and Alexander Hars (Let’s Deal), to mention just a few. Now the time has come to identify the next generation entrepreneurs – and judging from the long list of companies that Chalmers Ventures are currently engaged in, this is a task that requires a combination of both deep and broad competencies. Linnéa presented some of the numerous processes necessary to facilitate the complex task of juggling so many different ideas in so many various stages whilst handling expectations from so many different stake holders.

The introduction of Chalmers Ventures opens up to a number of new questions. In the response to a question from the floor, Linneá explained that the task is far more complex than to “build companies” – an experience that is perhaps already in place but now with the added complexity to also integrate the processes as a natural part of Chalmers overall work. But, she added, it is also important to highlight that Chalmers Ventures’ doors are not only open to researchers, students, companies and people connected to Chalmers but is available to anybody who has an idea that they believe could be utilized and make a difference.

But in a world where you constantly strive for perfection before you move on, it can still be quite daring to walk through those doors. Linnéa, however, takes a rather pragmatic view on this: “It will go wrong – a lot of times – and it’s OK!”

As we left the House of Chalmers this beautiful October Friday, we all shared a feeling of inspiration but particularly also of the lingering inspiration and unchallenged competence that derived from Linnéa. The two last sentences in Chalmers Ventures’ mission statement read: “Supported by world leading competence and knowledge. Powered by true passion, curiosity and courage.”

In just one lunch hour, Linnéa managed to personalize exactly this. Seldom has a company’s vision felt so real. We are all looking forward to hearing much more about Chalmers Ventures in times to come but in the meantime:
Good luck on your ventures, Chalmers Ventures!
Text: Marianne Gyllensten
Photo: Martina Mofidi

Published: Tue 20 Oct 2015. Modified: Wed 21 Oct 2015