Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation essential for continued progress (video)

Mistakes must be permitted to achieve a vibrant and dynamic environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. Taking on challenges must be encouraged. That was one of the conclusions at the seminar TeliaSonera hosted 27 August in conjunction with the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. The seminar was moderated by Gunilla von Platen, a successful entrepreneur, and a panel consisting of Stina Honkamaa, CEO of Google  Sweden, Margot Wallströn, former EU Commissioner, Maria Wetterstrand, former Green Party leader and Priya Sawahney, Head of Strategy in TeliaSonera Business Services.

At a well-attended seminar, held at Stockholm’s Royal Swedish Opera, TeliaSonera invited the distinguished panel to discuss how we in the Baltic Sea region can continue to be among the top countries in the world in using data communication and to foster innovations. 

The recorded video of the seminar is a bit shortened and in Swedish (1hour 8 minutes)

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Short summary:
In her introductory remarks, Malin Frenning, President of Business Area Broadband Services, highlighted the far-reaching network investments TeliaSonera has made and continues to make.

She pointed out that despite our small population the region has a long tradition of producing groundbreaking innovations. “In this globalised world, our opportunities to influence developments are limited. If we’re to remain ahead as world-class players, we must continue to deliver world-class innovations.”

TeliaSonera had invited Gunilla von Platen, a successful Swedish entrepreneur, to act as moderator. She told the audience that the life of an entrepreneur is full of setbacks, not least the fact that banks and lending institutions often consider entrepreneurs to be “crazy, wild and unemployable”. The entrepreneur therefore needs to have a firm belief in her or his own ability.

Stina Honkamaa, CEO of Google Sweden, told the audience that her company for many epitomizes innovation and creativity. ”We encourage all our staff to pursue innovative ideas by allowing them to devote 20 percent of their workweek in working on projects not associated with normal assignments.”

Former EU Commissioner and UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, underlined the importance of a favorable environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. “I’ve lived a couple of years in the United States and there, you find a different attitude towards making money. They wish you good luck. Time and time again – regardless of government in power – there are assurances that the rules and regulations in Sweden that act as barriers will be simplified, but for some reason it doesn’t happen.” She recommended that young entrepreneurs might benefit from also engaging in an altruistic endeavor.

Former Swedish Green Party leader Maria Wetterstrand, who recently resigned for politics, pointed out that technical innovations are not made in parliament. “Therefore, it’s wrong if politicians concern themselves with every detail in research funding.” She also said that many people are more eager to blame politicians rather than seeking solutions. ”It’s like in Winnie the Pooh: Eeyore finds everything difficult whereas Tigger is unfailingly positive. We need more Tiggers.”

The panel discussed the prerequisites for establishing a positive climate for innovation and entrepreneurship. Panelists generally did not see social welfare as a hindrance and Priya Sawhney, Head of Strategy, TeliaSonera Business Services, pointed out that countries with a high degree of gender equality often perform better in this respect. As originating from India her reflection was that there is no custom here to define individuals as being “special” as a positive attribute.

In summing up the discussion, Malin Frenning assured the audience that TeliaSonera will continue to stimulate debate and invited those interested to a further discussion on TeliaSonera’s innovation blog. “Give us your views on what we in TeliaSonera can do to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s important for our company but also for the region.”