VentureLab@SLU – catalyst for green innovations
With a focus on innovations in the green industries and exciting transdisciplinary collaborations, VentureLab@SLU creates prerequisites for students wishing to start their own companies or develop their own businesses and ideas whilst still studying.
New player with 20 years’ experience
“The VentureLab concept originally comes from Lund University. When SLU Holding took the initiative and started up a new innovation-support initiative for students at Alnarp in 2017, we collaborated with Lund University form the word go. We got started quickly, and benefited from their knowledge and their nearly 20 years’ experience of running a well-functioning business. That meant a lot to us," says Robin Meijer, project manager VentureLab@SLU.
The collaboration has continued. Building relationships between the two universities and between the students is still an important and strategic part of the work.
“We want to encourage and provide more opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration. We at SLU are extremely knowledgeable about the green industries – and people at Lund University know a great deal about programming, finance and technology. This knowledge is valuable for the innovation work. We’re convinced that through collaboration development can be smoother and faster,” says Robin.
The collaboration also extends across the Sound to Denmark. At several events organised by VentureLab@SLU, students from both Lund University and SLU Alnarp have the opportunity to develop solutions together with students from the universities in the Copenhagen area within the parameters of the collaborative project Entrepreneurship Hubs.
Events create important encounters
“For us it’s important to always be on your toes, keep your eyes open and know what interests our students, in order to offer extremely attractive events that people will want to take part in. Two major recurrent events are our inspirational lunches and trend-spotting events,” says Robin.
Companies and entrepreneurs from the green industries are invited to the inspirational lunches, to share their work, knowledge and experience. The focus is on innovations that are current and interesting. New food innovations and ideas on sustainable food production and urban and landscape development are examples of the attractive subject areas that appeal to a lot of participants.
The trend-spotting events have a different purpose. They are where industry, startups and researchers from Lund University and SLU meet for discussions and panel debates on current research, trends and opportunities within a specific subject area. A stimulating and successful concept involving open discussions and exchanges of experiences between different disciplines. A further activity in which the focus is on transdisciplinary collaboration is Alnarp’s forthcoming ‘hackathon’.
“With a hackathon we go a step further. A hackathon is a challenging team competition. The teams are made up of students from different universities and with different backgrounds, involving a mix of disciplines. The challenge is to solve a case together and present the best solution. It’s exciting and entertaining, but perhaps above all a good experience for when you later have an idea and want to start a business across the university boundaries,” says Robin.
Innovations with potential
For Robin the future is rosy. After several years’ activity he feels he’s beginning to make headway, have more ideas and get in touch with more students who are interested in a change. A change whereby a company can be a possible way of realising your own idea.
VentureLab@SLU´s role is to equip students until they are ready to scale up their business concepts and create a new business. And we’ll hopefully then see companies setting up amongst the other companies in Alnarp’s Green Innovation Park, but most of them are currently in a development phase. The focus of several of the ideas and projects is plant-based food innovations. Others are working on innovations in the field of digital tools for agricultural use, and we’re also seeing several solutions that are underway in the field of prototyping for new cultivation systems.
Boost for green industries
The support for students who want to progress their ideas, develop new solutions and contribute new knowledge is an essential part of the university's activities, according to Robin.
“If there’s no innovation office focusing on students, this can restrict the green industries. The support is needed so we can see new solutions and gain more knowledge in areas such as climate and sustainability. A well-functioning innovation office also means universities’ attractiveness is increasing. Offering support to students who wish to develop their own ideas during their studies is as important as supporting researchers and entrepreneurs in their innovation work,” says Robin Meijer, project manager VentureLab@SLU (who is very much enjoying the collaboration with the students at SLU Alnarp and all the energy their commitment is providing).
For further information on VentureLab@SLU and SLU Holding please contact
+46 (0) 724 52 52 14