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Drive Sweden Business Model Lab – Resilience and viability

The Drive Sweden Business Model Lab has been active for a year and has had a thrilling start. With a growing set of diverse partners, a lot of new technology and services being developed, a market that has rapidly changed and an international interest in its work, the future looks promising for this enabling function for new innovation.
Photo by Slidebean on Unsplash

The Drive Sweden Business Model Lab was founded to bridge the gap between innovation and business models – with a focus on sustainable innovation. After its first year of operation it has gathered a diverse setup of actors, ranging from small startups to academia and global companies and the work going on within the lab has attracted a large interest. Today, international partners are traveling to the workshops arranged by the lab.

Two takeaways from this successful start have been the importance to focus on the partners’ real problems and to work with actors that are willing to share knowledge and to collaborate.

“There are a lot of accelerators and incubators, but this is unique. The openness and collaboration among a diverse group of partners is staggering”, says Rami Darwish, Project leader of the Drive Sweden Business Lab and Business Model researcher at the Integrated Transport Research Lab at KTH and continues:

“It is an innovation hub that tackles the business model gap for sustainable innovations in electrification, automation, logistics and mobility as a service. The lab is a place where small and large organizations develop business models in a manner that is protected. We help the partners by exploring challenges, sharing knowledge and insights from academia and industry and by finding the right questions to focus on where collaboration is most needed on future business model projects”.

Starting up and staying resilient

Two of the objectives for the Business Model Lab is to help the partners create resilient business models and to help new innovation reaching the market. But a lot of innovation never makes it there.

“A lot of startups don’t experience their fifth year but end up in what is called the ‘valley of death’”, explains Roland Elander, coordinator of the Drive Sweden Business Model Lab and Head of Business Development and responsible for mobility at Sustainable Innovation and continues:

“A lot of times startups are successful in developing and verifying an idea and getting seed funding in one way or another. But after that, you descend into this valley where the innovation is tested on the market and most companies want to scale up, a step that the current innovation system doesn’t always support”.

Surviving this step is something that the Business Model Lab targets. By helping them to create viable business models by using the deep knowledge found within the project’s network, they can get vital tools to help startups or new innovation. Elander also highlights the importance of asking the right questions, finding the right markets and connecting the right actors.

Ongoing projects and the reshaping of a business model

The Business Model Lab is actively working with a few projects like Älskade stad (Beloved City), where actors are working together to ensure a better environment in the city center of Stockholm by a new and combined service of deliveries and waste management. They are also working with a project on terminal charging for electric distribution vehicles and a MaaS (Mobility as a Service) project. This shows the width of what the lab can work on and reflects the project’s composition of different kinds and sizes of actors.

One of the active partners within the Business Model Lab is Freelway, that recently, in dialogue with the Business Model Lab, changed their business model to meet the changes in the market caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

”Changes can happen a lot faster than you think. But we had the possibility to reshape our business model quickly to focus more on home deliveries, where we found a need that we could fill”, says Tobias Forngren, CEO of Freelway, who believes in keeping a flexibility in companies’ business models.

For Freelway, being a part of the Business Model Lab has been a good experience.

“Our expectations on becoming a partner have already been fulfilled. We have interacted and tested ideas with other companies within the lab. And the lab being a part of Drive Sweden creates an openness and a playfield with large and small actors as well as startups”, says Tobias Forngren and continues:

“Discussing with all these stakeholders give you a chance to get insights on the possibilities and limitations of existing and new business models, to network and to get new perspectives”.

The Drive Sweden Business Model Lab has been going for about a year and the number of partners keeps growing. But more perspectives and partners are welcome. If you have a need for developing business models for new innovation and an interest to collaborate with and learn from others, this is an excellent possibility to innovate the methods for reaching the market and stay on top of this fast-developing area. Don´t hesitate to reach out to project leader Rami Darwish.