Innovatum began by creating the Innovatum Science Centre. The science centre has always been a place to have educational projects and equipment available for children and families so that people can come together and play with technology.
For schools in the region, special programs focused on science or mathematics are designed to support the curriculum while giving students a deeper understanding of the subjects. “They can play to understand better”, explains Tore Helmersson, managing director. Innovatum hopes to engage young people with techniques and exploration, and to encourage interest in technical schools in the future.
The Innovatum Incubator started two years after the foundation began. The Incubator began as a resource to newly established companies, helping them with finances, legal advice and business plans. Now the Incubator has expanded to offer office space and provide an environment for small companies to network, both with each other and with larger companies.
Many of these are new creative companies, offering services including media communication, film production and game development. Other companies focus on energy and the environment or production technologies. After three years in the program, the companies are required to move out and become more independent.
If Innovatum approves the company’s business plan, the foundation also recommends the company long-term. This program has had an outstanding success rate: out of the 50 companies which have completed time in the Incubator, only three or four have gone out of business.
After seeing how much small companies could profit from working in the same space and sharing solutions, Innovatum began to offer the Project Arena for more established businesses. The Project Arena, a bridge between research, trade and industry, lets companies come together to work on specific projects. The companies share costs and knowledge, coming together to make the projects cheaper and better.
Innovatum decides on the projects, finds the best partners, investigates financing possibilities and arranges the project deals. Each partner brings its own intellectual property, which can make the deals very sensitive, and the knowledge which is generated stays within the companies.
Innovatum has done well for itself over the last twelve years. Though the foundation was affected by the 2009 crisis in the automotive industry, Innovatum is now well-situated. Many projects are under way in the Project Arena, all of the company slots in the Incubator are filled, and the science centre continues to attract visitors.
Innovatum employs 18 people, and 14 have been hired for specific projects. Last year’s turnover was 70 million SEK, and 300 million EUR were invested in projects. Though members of Innovatum visit industrial companies in the region, the foundation needs little marketing because of how unique it is in the region and the great demand for its services.
The majority of companies involved are Swedish, but some companies from Norway and the U.S. have also joined projects. In the future, Innovatum looks forward to being more helpful for small and medium-sized companies in the region and bridging the gap between the two.
The foundation continues to look for creative ways to engage the business community. Innovatum is also generous about sharing its model and hopes to encourage other science and technology parks to learn from its successes.