Accelerating innovative, start-up collaboration in China
16 OCTOBER 2023
Anton ventures to China with the assignment to tap into the start-up ecosystem and cement long-term collaboration with the local market.
Being the Innovation Manager at Scania, Anton Wieselblad is well familiar with funding innovative ideas and identifying business opportunities for Scania. After all, he started the Innovation Factory Programme, an initiative to give our employees the skills and support to develop bright ideas and bring them to market. Together with Combient Foundry, he has also accelerated Scania’s adoption of start-up collaboration in Sweden. All with the same mission – to make Scania a more entrepreneurial enterprise to future-proof the organisation.
Anton, who thrives in the role of breaking new ground, finds himself today in China to focus on how the world's second-largest start-up ecosystem can help Scania accelerate the transition towards a sustainable transport system.
Laying the groundwork
The second-largest economy in the world, China forms a fertile ground for innovative start-ups. This is where Anton will try to make an impact during his one-year term from his base in Shanghai. That is certainly no small feat, but he seems determined to lay the foundation for the office to provide the intelligence and capability to reinforce Scania’s presence in the competitive market.
Since his arrival, he has been gathering insights into the local market: engaging, understanding, and evaluating their successes. Anton has been scouting external companies that could enhance, complement, or disrupt Scania's solution offerings. “I’d like to figure out the costs and benefits of doing these types of programmes – in the Chinese context where the government plays a larger role and entrepreneurs can rely on the local market to a larger extent. I will only feel it has been successful if we have the resources and capabilities in place to run the operations when I leave. That is the footprint I would like to make,” says Anton.
Building partnerships and innovation networks are necessary to ensure the success of start-ups, and Scania’s industry expertise and global presence are valuable assets to serve that purpose. The start-up ecosystem in China has twice the output of that in Europe so the prospects are clear. In order to tap this potential, we have to manage the local market dynamics.
Anton has met with different entities, from the public to the private sectors and is impressed by the speed at which they conduct business. He reflects on their collaborative approach, and how they are positively open to external ideas and input. He sees the value of working with the Chinese community and is keen to evolve that network.
“It is super fun working in China and at an interesting time because the macroeconomic situation today is so special. We have made big commitments in the factory in Rugao and there is such drive within the organisation,” says Anton. “I love to take a bigger perspective since I’ve studied both engineering and economics. Therefore, I can bring the innovation side and economic side of things together to understand the market,” adds the inspired Anton.
Undoubtedly, doing business and working in Asia differs from Europe. And there is a need to adapt to cultural diversity and language barriers. Showing respect and having the right attitude is essential to gaining the trust of people in our long-term engagement.
In his innovation role, having to take responsibility for the hubs of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing has enriched his overseas work experience. Anton understands better the prerequisites required from Scania and the dynamics involved, giving the company a better way forward to act operationally.
The transport industry is changing fast, and to drive the shift towards cleaner, safer and smarter solutions, we need to be able to innovate quickly.