Lindholmen Science Park: A Laaand of Pure Innovatiooon

Lindholmen Science Park is not so much a place physical production; it is more of a place that produces ideas. Formerly a busy Gothenberg shipyard, it is now home to large collection of companies that are developing future technologies. It is a place for companies to develop new and emerging technologies. They provide a place for collaboration so scientists and engineers can be free to share ideas without lawyers getting the way and holding up the process. Overarching contracts are drawn up before anyone begins a project. These contracts ensure equal and free use to all involved parties for any technologies developed during the project period. This free use contract enables new technologies to be created, but leaves the implementation up to the individual contributors. The park is structured as a nonprofit with the largest companies holding positions as majority shareholders. As in a typical nonprofit they are not designed to make a profit, only to provide the services they were originally created for and attempt breakeven at the end of each year. They have continued to grow over the years and have future plans to build a new skyscraper and living spaces within the park to keep projects moving 24/7.

The way the Swedish people have developed this open innovation area is different from the US in a few ways. In the US, the use of lawyers in any and all business functions is seen as the only way to properly conduct business. The idea of a lawyer-free environment may please the engineers, but would lead top management into a panic attack due the fear of losing any ground to a competitor or becoming involved in lawsuits. There are some places in the US that are considered to have open innovation or creative spaces such as Google and Facebook. However, these spaces are open only with in the walls of their respective corporations. Some new developments are in fact released with open licenses to the public and other companies, but many others are closely held as IP assets for a single company. The triple helix approach that was presented in our meeting at the science park, which combines universities, government, and industry, is also used in the US, but more often seen in pairs rather than combining all three branches. It may be government providing a grant for a university’s research or a company developing a new technology under direction from the government. Rarely, if ever are all three able collaborate in shared space such as Linholmen Science Park. If this method of three sided innovation were used in the US it would speed up new tech development which slowed by leaving a one of the three parties to play catch up. An example would be a new tech developed in secret by the government and an industry contractor such as GPS. It took many years after the creation on military GPS before it was available for public use which brought it to its fullest potential.

The new Swedish approach is something that needs to be brought home the US. As the world changes and trade balances continue to shift, companies in the US will realize that they are falling behind as they all try to develop future technology all alone. Red tape needs to be reduced and three way collaboration needs to take place if the US is to continue to hold its position in the world.20160530_130238