‘Innovation needs to be diverse in every sense of the word’ – Q&A with Ylva Lidin

A quick Q&A with Ylva Lidin, Executive Director at VentureLab by Lund University

Where is the best place for new ideas?

Ylva Lidin Picture
Ylva Lidin

It is perhaps not so much about the place but the people? It is in meetings with people from different backgrounds great ideas can grow. At VentureLab we do several events during the year, like our big innovation weekend, Lund innovation challenge (LIC). In 2020 the theme was smart cities.

VentureLab believes firmly that innovation needs to be diverse in every sense of the word. Gender, race, ethnicity and also knowledge background! We continually promote interdisciplinary collaborations; technical innovation needs more social and humanities scientists and vice versa. 

What is your most surprising prediction around cities and sustainability?

I predict a possible risk: our economic and environmental efforts need to have an inclusive mind-set. For example, many developed countries have decreased their air pollution these past years, but pollution inequality has not. My prediction is that if we don’t address this, we’ll be in for trouble.  

Our Lund Innovation Challenge theme was set pretty quickly this year – smart cities are on the rise, and much of their promises are very exciting. Although I believe that we need to be cautious. The global sustainable development goals (SGDs) focus on three main areas: economic, environmental and social sustainability. When discussing and envisioning smart cities it is not uncommon to focus on the two Es: environmental and economic. But without the social aspect we forget that smart cities also need to be inclusive. 

Tell me more about your work at Venturelab?

I work as the executive director for VentureLab. This has opened up a whole new exciting world for me – the world of innovation. I have briefly studied entrepreneurship and innovation in my masters, but VentureLab taught me about the different aspects of innovation, like how diversity can improve a business’s innovation and what we need to be aware of when new technologies are being presented (for more on that listen to Rocio Lorenzo’s Ted talk). 

VentureLab is Lund University’s very own incubator and start-up hub for students. Our focus is to inspire and help students to develop and believe in their ideas. We offer our students free workspace, workshops, and business consulting – all to help them in the initial phase of building a business. 

What 2-3 books / podcasts would you recommend?

  1. Rocio Lorenzo’s Ted talk
  2. Podcast: Social Entrepreneur
  3. For people who understand Swedish: Innovation – en podd från Vinnova

What is your call to action for budding entrepreneurs?

Look at your idea from different perspectives, what problem does the idea solve and is it a long term solution? Are there issues that you have not addressed? Not all ideas can perfectly align with the three pillars of sustainability, but awareness can steer entrepreneurs in the right direction, we need diverse and interdisciplinary collaborations more than ever!

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