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Kasvufoorumi 2009

Kasvufoorumi 2009

The future of the Finnish Economy is in the hands of those software entrepreneurs who dare to innovate and build growth companies at these times. That’s the idea of Growth Forum (Kasvufoorumi in Finnish), an initiative of Finnish Software Entrepreneurs which in co-operation with several other organizations such as Microsoft, arranged a kick-off seminar last Friday in Helsinki. This is the second year this event is organized.

According to Mikko Alkio,  the State Secretary to the Minister of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Employment and Economy, this is a unique collaboration in whole Europe. In no other nation have most of the key stake holders of the software industry joined the forces to build a new cornerstone of a new economic driver. Unlike some other politicians, he was also wise enough to admit that he himself is not actually the best person to advice how to become an entrepreneur and build a company. He claimed that the main reason for this is a  large house mortgage and no room for additional risk taking. In my humble opinion, this is actually often the reason to stay at a regular job instead of building a growth company of your own.

Another speaker, Mikko Kosonen from Sitra, also had an interesting presentation. One of the main things was the need for user driven software design. It is well-known that many (but not all) software is developed based on view of the developers, and less based on the actual and real user needs. There is light in the end of the tunnel, and it’s not the train. Memorize the word “Gasellizer”, an innovation by a group of sofware experts, and see what it is going to be this Autumn.

Concerning Mikko’s presentation, he also mentioned the need of new Service Innovations. That’s absolutely true. It’s no longer enough to engineer yet-another-cool-technology and try to find a use case for that. The future is in Service Innovations. This message is yet to go to the Finnish entrepreneur funding system, however. Trying to find funding for a Service Innovation (with focus on something else than the technology) is quite difficult as a typical answer is that “…it is just a service innovation, we cannot give support for that…”). In the future it should be the other way around, having “just a technological innovation” should not be enough, it should also be Service Innovation!

The Growth Forum will now continue with crowd sourcing model. All the software entrepreneurs were encouraged to join one or more of the task forces working on few pre-selected focus areas. Those focus areas are Teaching and Education, Research, Innovation, Growth Strategies and Capital Markets and International Sales & Marketing. I will personally join at least the Innovation group.

Let the forces be with this initiative!

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We all know that the car industry is in BIG trouble. Volvo is for sale, is looking for tens of millions of tax payers money to survice few more months. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are asking for 25 billion USD to keep their operations going. That’s just few examples recently given in the press.

A French sociologist Bruno Marzloff had already some time ago an interesting idea: why not to offer vehicles “as a service”. Taking that idea further, why not to use the current crisis in the vehicle industry to get something new done.

Introducing Vehicles as a Service (VaaS) model!

We already had Software as a a Service (SaaS), right?

This is how would it work:

  1. All or major part of the financing the car manufacturers are asking, is used to implement this concept
  2. Best in class technologies are used to enable VaaS: mobile phones, navigation systems and ride-sharing software
  3. Banks and financing is needed for this as well (it’s huge capital investment), but that’s easy as there are so many socialized banks already 
  4. All cities would participate with related services for the participating peoples (for example, free parking)

Who would we need to implement this? There is a clear need for out-of-the-box thinking so it might be a good idea to leave out those big players who typical would implement these ever-lasting and and extremely expensive public projects (in this case we want this done a bit quicker).

Secondly, we need the best-in-class companies for the technology.

  1. Mobile technology from Nokia (they have however bad track record in Open Innovation so alternatively it could also be Ericsson)
  2. Navigation technology from TomTom (Nokia navigation is IMHO really bad, got lost in the middle of Manchester with that)
  3. Ride-sharing software from Ecolane (their real-time ride-sharing really works, it’s really cool technology waiting for the billion dollar opportunity)

And then what? Build a model where financing tools are used to finance enough vehicles which would be equipped with the above mentioned tools and offered for members (car drivers) as really good alternative for owning your own car. There is a need to integrate this with public transportation as well. As each of these vehicles actually becomes part of public transportation, maybe buses could become part of that as well by becoming more demands-responsive?

How woud it work? 

  1. Members of the VaaS service would get a brand new car (choose any brand currently in trouble) for half the price
  2. Car would be equipped with a Navigation Device connected with Ride Exchange
  3. Whenever driving the car, the navigation would be used and it would tell the Ride Exchange the destination. If there would be matching passengers, the driver would need to take them on board and the navigation would automatically adjust to the new route.
  4. The destination information would be utilized for carpooling (and why not for other useful purposes as well). There many additional things to consider, such as matching preferences and collection and use of traffic information.

Maybe you could even “sell” your current car to the government and get your share of the subsidies if you’d participate in this service with the same rules.

Well,  this is really just simplified idea that is not deeply analyzed to death. It might work or maybe not. We don’t know if we don’t try it (or even think about it, right?)

It might be really interesting to dig this deeper one day.

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