A factory for innovations

A factory for innovations

There are television shows where inventors and visionaries get the chance to turn their ideas into reality by presenting them to a group of people who decide whether or not to invest funds in the scheme. Now that opportunity has arrived at Scania. Not through a television show, but via Scania Innovation Factory.

Helena Malmberg is responsible for constructing the operation during a two-year pilot project. The aim is to learn to take on board the creative ideas of employees in a more structured way:

“Scania’s employees have a lot of exciting ideas, and Scania Innovation Factory is about offering the opportunity to develop these ideas and stimulating innovative thinking.”

Several companies are already working in this way and Helena reviewed a number of models before deciding on Executive Champions, which is the entry point for Scania Innovation Factory.

“Employees, particularly in R&D in the first instance, get in touch with their idea which – if it falls within the set criteria – is presented to the R&D Manager Claes Erixon and his sector managers.”

Innovative and preferably a little crazy

The ideas presented to Executive Champions need to create value in some way for Scania’s business and meet a customer need.

“The idea is that it should be something innovative and preferably a little crazy.”

The employee talks about their idea in a seven-minute presentation, a pitch. If someone in the group believes that it is worth developing further, the person can leave their regular position in order to spend a few months developing their concept in the Scania Innovation Factory.

“We assess the ideas individually from a strategic perspective. Often, the most ambitious plans do not get the chance to develop into something more, but this is about taking a small risk in order to get something amazing in the end,” says Claes Erixon.

Explore the potential of the idea

What is unique about Scania Innovation Factory is that the decision will be taken there and then. The people who get the chance to work on their idea will remain at Scania, but not in their office. At the end of the development period, the work is evaluated.” Helena says:

“It’s not about having something finished for the market, but a functional prototype that is considered relevant based on customer benefit and business opportunity. The whole idea is to explore the potential of the idea.”

The first round takes place in June

If it turns out that the idea has grown into something that creates value for Scania, it will be introduced into processes in order to see if it works in a broader context. If something is good, but does not quite fit Scania, the employee will return to their regular work richer for the experience. The person may also receive support to carry on working on the idea, through a start-up company. The first round of potential ideas will be presented in to Executive Champions June, and Helena is looking forward to it:

“It will be exciting to see who applies. You have to be both self-confident and driven, and I hope we will find a number of nuggets among the applications. Here people will get the chance to work based on a start-your-own-business mentality, but with our safety net in place. Scania is still Scania.”