The proximity with the seven partners is one of the key elements at MobilityXlab. That is reflected in the close relationship the startups get to develop with them, but also in the overall strategy of the program, which is defined by the steering board, with a seat to each partner company.
Recently, MobilityXlab welcomed Tommy Hansson Strand to the steering board, representing Volvo Group. Even though it’s his first time on the board, Tommy has been heavily involved in the establishment of MobilityXlab six years ago. “My team has been engaged ever since and I am impressed by the steps that have been taken, both in terms of the number of collaborations with startups and also with the global reach that we now have achieved,” he says.
The experience in developing new businesses gained throughout his career has given Tommy an eye for identifying the elements of a successful collaboration. In this interview, he shares some of his experience with us.
You are the VP of the Innovation Lab at Volvo Group, responsible for exploring new businesses and opportunities. What role do startups play in this innovation exploration context?
Startups are vital for us within the Volvo Group, they enable us to transform and innovate at a faster pace. We at the Innovation Lab and CampX are dedicated to acting as a gateway into the Volvo Group ecosystem and have developed specific frameworks to simplify and support collaboration with startups. Interacting with startups is so refreshing. You meet people who are passionate about what they do, and they work with the latest technology and solutions.
A meeting with a start-up doesn’t have to lead to commercialization, but you always leave with new insights and inspiration. It can make you think differently and see challenges in a new way.
Volvo Group is one of the founding companies of MobilityXlab, six years ago. What has been the company's experience so far? What would you say it's the most significant benefit of being part of this collaboration ecosystem?
The experience has been good, and we have achieved concrete results in terms of collaboration. It has been a journey also internally where we, as an organization, have learned how to collaborate with startups. There are still steps to take but we see that more and more colleagues in the Volvo Group are involved and engaged in collaborations.
What are the main ingredients for a good collaboration between startups and Volvo Group? Both from the side of startups and the side of those working directly in the collaboration.
The main ingredient would be to have a framework that clarifies the expectations for both parties. I also believe that it is important to have dedicated persons that can guide the parties, both the start-up and the colleagues within the group throughout the collaboration. The third ingredient is to have supporting capabilities such as access to data and test populations which allow for a faster journey and validation of the specific solution.