Sweden has a strong manufacturing sector, accounting for 21 percent of the country’s GDP and 77% of Swedish exports. The industry is a job engine, particularly for businesses in the Småland region. In the face of globalization and digitalization, as well as environmental concerns and resource constraints, a coalition of regional business organizations and stakeholders joined in close collaboration with Jönköping University and Science Park Jönköpin and other key partners including Innovation 360 Group, to undertake a two-year development project aimed at helping over 20 SME’s futureproof their business models and strategies, and optimize productivity and operations, with a goal of increased growth and competitiveness.
Growkomp was managed by Nässjö Business Development in partnerships with Vaggeryd Business Council and the Business Unit of Jönköping Municipality. It focused on businesses in manufacturing in the Nässjö, Vaggeryd, Sävsjö and Jönköping municipalities.
Regional Renewal to Sustainable Growth
Manufacturing faces some unique challenges and businesses inside Sweden’s manufacturing corridor are no exception. Located in outlying areas, these companies are tasked with creating a strong, positive culture to compensate for the lack of urban amenities. In addition, they had a need to become much more strategic and collaborative than in the past, while building new models that embody values such as sustainability, diversity and innovation. Practical challenges included skills supply issues, and the need for concrete tools for innovation and business development.
This ambitious development project was launched in 2016 with 8.2 million Swedish crowns funded by the European Social Fund, and ended on May of 2018, with a media conference to announce and celebrate the projects results, including:
- Average growth of orderbook by 25%
- Average Growth 12%, higher than the national GDP of 5%
- Revised business plans to continue journey of sustainable growth
- Increased diversity in both workforce and management
Some of the other highlights included reduced energy consumption and shortened product development cycles. In addition to these tangibles, Growkomp entrepreneurs spoke highly about the project and its impact on their businesses:
“Participating in GrowKomp was highly valuable, especially the bootcamp where we gained inspiration and tools for describing our business model and got help to define concrete measures for achieving our goals. We have had some great discussions and follow ups throughout the process and the whole management team gained valuable information.” –Martin Møller Business Development officer at Expedit.
“Our CSR investment has already generated new business. Innovation area in Growkomp project was very interesting, We have gotten fantastic opportunities to be stronger and competent at innovation.” — Johan Ragnar, CEO of furniture designer Ragnars Inredningar.
Measuring Innovation Capabilities
Magnus Penker and the Innovation360 team were thrilled to work closely with the businesses in Growkomp to help them achieve these strong results and to coach and support local entrepreneurs. We worked closely with lead Claes Johansson, CEO at Nässjö Business Development, a long time friend and partner. Our 360 analysis tool allowed GrowKomp businesses to measure their innovation capabilities and to build on their key strengths.
Claes Johansson, CEO: “We have amazing entrepreneur’s in our region, with untapped potential. I saw a need for new insights and tools within CSR, Culture and Innovation Management, in order to broaden their perspectives and Innovation360 delivered.”
Growkomp used the Innovation360 methodology, analysis kit and software to evaluate and implement innovation strategies. The project has some exciting implications for how regional transformation projects can be structured and managed for maximum impact. It included:
- Business development boot camp
- Individual company coaching, and training
- Follow-up analysis
One of the most exciting aspects of the project were the bootcamps, which brought together businesses and their top level staff to work together in intensive two-day workshops. This collaborative learning approach yielded deep learning and insights, and allowed for companies to share knowledge. Offering quick 360 assessments and evidence-based recommendations, organizations got prepared and inspired to work on their strategic initiatives and fine tune their direction for their future horizons products or services.
We have a unique tool that helps measure and also award companies who strive to be innovative. We presented the participating companies with certificates of their InnovationIQ at the bootcamps. This assessment tool helps companies identify their innovation capabilities, and how aligned and mature their strategy, culture and leadership are. It was tremendously rewarding watching these businesses leaders grow and mature over the course of the project!
The UN’s 17 Goals for 2030
Developing regional industries through innovation is part of the of Innovation360 group goals to contribute to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, while helping businesses become more resilient and profitable.
Sustainable growth is possible, and a more diverse and equitable workforce helps attract, retain and develop the talent needed to stay competitive.
Growkomp was an incredible success and we look forward to version 2.0. The project was strong validation that diversity, equality and sustainability are values that support and enhance innovation, while creating real value. We look forward to replicating these successes in 2019 and beyond, as more companies and industries become aware of innovation as an engine for sustainable, profitable growth.