Ignite Sweden works for Swedish startup companies to do business with large companies. At Hannover Messe Swedish startups got to join German companies on site.
A trade show can be a yawning event where you get stuck in a corner with your booth, or it can be a unique opportunity to network and do new business. The Hanover Fair is a good example of the latter alternative, and a step in strengthening Sweden's cooperation with Germany. The goal of Sweden's partnership is to make it easier for Swedish and German companies to collaborate in the future, and as part of this work, Sweden joined as partner in the world's largest industrial fair, the Hanover Fair.
During the fair, which was inaugurated by Stefan Löfven and Angela Merkel, the collaboration was also extended to include artificial intelligence (AI). For the Swedish startup companies who traveled down, the fair was a good first chance to make contact with German large companies.
- The whole program was great and Sweden really invested in this wholeheartedly. They had a very nice booth with interesting companies and good demos. Then a lot of us had invested in startups. Ignite Sweden had collected German large companies that wanted to meet young Swedish companies. I thought it was a very impressive collection of companies, ”says Martin Rugfelt, CEO, Sentian.
His company works with AI for the industry where they focus on advanced anomaly detection, predictive maintenance and intelligent optimization. Something that is interesting to the German market when Angela Merkel has gone hard with his effort on Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, where everything in production is connected. Something Sweden is also at the forefront of.
- I think we can learn a lot from working with large German companies. They are very capable and forward in what they do, but when it comes to digital technology, we are the leader in Sweden, compared to Germany, says Martin Rugfelt.
Large Swedish companies were also in place in Hannover to meet Swedish startups but also German counterparts. ABB has started the growth hub SynerLeap, which started in the Swedish market but has now grown to work globally.
- At first glance, it feels like Sweden is far ahead, but you can always learn more and get inspiration from others, says Camilla Kullborg, head of automation and robotics, SynerLeap.
She was also pleased with the matchmaking from Ignite Sweden.
- Many of the meetings I had were with Swedish companies, but we also got help from Ignite Sweden to get in touch with their German counterpart and meet German startups. It was very successful, says Camilla Kullborg.
Ignite Sweden is a programme that works for Swedish startup companies to do business with large companies. They are run by the members of Swedish Incubators & Science Parks and for the Hannover effort they have been fully funded by Vinnova. It was the first time they had tried to bid with Swedish startups to meet other companies on site and the results were above expectations.
- When it comes to innovations and startups, I am impressed by the German big companies. It has been a huge interest on their part to participate. We always qualify those who report their interest to see if they can really do something and many could show on previous collaborations with startups, says Stina Lantz, Programme Lead, Ignite Sweden.
In addition to matchmaking, where they have gone out and sought interested companies through local partners, Ignite Sweden, also conducted a bootcamp before the fair.
- We have talked about German business culture and trained on German business pitches. It is another hierarchy in German companies not the same flat organizations as here in Sweden. I also feel that there is a lot of focus on what can make the best business benefit, says Stina Lantz.