Marianne was hired in 2006 by the Danish government to establish the Danish Innovation Center in Palo Alto. This center serves as a bridge into the Valley in an attempt to make it a natural extension of the Danish Innovation ecosystem. Since then she has worked with thousands of innovators, scientists and start-up entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Denmark, Finland, Germany and other European countries.
1. The idea that builds your TEDx-talk was born when you were visiting Östersund for the first time. Tell us about your experience.
This was about a year ago, in February 2014. After checking into my hotel I took a walk to get a feel for the place. After exploring the lakefront I was attracted to loud music from the city center. There was a big celebration welcoming home the medalists from Sotchi and I was impressed that this relatively small town had fostered such talent. I spend the next day meeting with a number of key players in the innovation ecosystem and it really struck me to see so many internationally successful athletes active in the regional innovation system. It became very clear to me that innovators and entrepreneurs need the same mindset as successful athletes.
2. Interesting thesis! So, what do you believe is the core of this mindset?
In Silicon Valley they have a concept called Innovation Champions. These are the rare individuals that have the ability to take an idea from the very early concept stage all the way to successful market launch. Innovation Champions have a lot in common with Olympic athletes. What is true for both top athletes and Innovation Champions is that they are self-selected. Have you ever seen an ad in the paper searching for a potential Gold medal winner in cross-country skiing? Innovation Champions like top athletes are driven by their passion and they understand that the only way to get to the top is to put in the necessary effort.
3. What can a region like Jämtland Härjedalen, where Östersund is located, learn from this way of thinking?
Start building a Team Östersund for Innovation Champions and start cross-pollinating the best from the world of sports and entrepreneurship!
4. Östersund is a Creative city of Gastronomy in UNESCO Creative Cities Network. We know you like to cook and enjoy a glass of good wine – what’s on the menu a Friday night if you can choose?
To wet my appetite I would enjoy a glass of cold local beer, munch some kale chips lightly drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a few slices of cold smoked Röding from Frösön.
My main course would be reindeer steak marinated in olive oil, pine needles and lemon rind served with a rough mash of potatoes and white cabbage and seasoned with compote of local apples and berries with a pinch of cayenne pepper. I would drink a glass of overseas Shiraz.
The perfect finish would be just one slice of local aged white goat cheese – no bread – and accompanied by a glass of cold German Riesling. Mmmm…