iHubs Crash Course on Mission-Driven Innovation in Silicon Valley

Blog post · 2023-02-13

Silicon Valley is widely considered as the global epicenter for innovation and new technologies. It is home to some of the world's largest and most successful technology companies, including Google, NVIDIA, Apple, and Facebook. It is also home to a large number of startup companies, venture capital firms, and incubators. The concentration of so many technology companies and innovators in one place has created a unique ecosystem that opens doors for collaboration, and rapid innovation.

This past November, iHubs Sweden organized a three-day Crash Course on Mission-Driven Innovation in Silicon Valley. Kicking off the program with a Foresight workshop at the Institute For The Future. Institute For The Future, a world-leading foresight, education, and future non-profit organization.

The Foresight workshop is designed to help organizations understand and prepare for the future, helping the participants to navigate the future by exploring long-term trends, future of their industry, and what challenges and opportunities they might face. The delegation took part in the workshop which included a variety of different activities designed specially for the iHubs delegation. Leaving the workshop it felt as if we had opened a door to change and seen a glimpse of the possibility of making an impact.

Visit at Wallenberg Hall and tour at the DeSimone Lab at Stanford University School of Medicine

We got the privilege to meet and attend a presentation by Professor Arthur Bienenstock at Wallenberg Hall. He shared the history of Wallenberg Hall and talked about Stanford University, and the significance of its existence. After the presentation, we were given a guided tour of the DeSimone Lab at Stanford University School of Medicine, led by Professor Gunilla Jacobson. She provided an inside look into the groundbreaking work being carried out at the lab, emphasizing the ways in which the Translational Medicine team is leveraging cross-functional collaboration and cutting-edge technologies to advance medical applications, such as highly precise 3D printing. It was a truly enlightening experience for all who were in attendance.

AI Collaborations NVIDIA with Startups and Health Innovation actors in Sweden

One of the biggest highlights from the week, for many of our delegates, was the visit to and tour at NVIDIA HQ. Shilpa Kolhatkar, Global Head of AI Nations Business Development at NVIDIA and Renee Yao, Global Healthcare AI Startups Lead at NVIDIA, gave a presentation on how NVIDIA is a part of transforming health care and future production areas using AI. We also got to experience the NVIDIA Experience Center Tour showcasing all the AI areas they are involved in and all we can say is, wow. Speaking to the delegation afterwards and understanding that the Nvidia HQ visit was the high point of the program for many.

Plug and Play accelerator visit

From NVIDIA HQ to our visit at the Plug and Play accelerator. Plug and Play connects the largest corporations through industry-focused accelerator programs in Silicon Valley. They seed invests in startups going through their accelerator programs making them one of the largest seed investors in Silicon Valley, with investments in startups such as PayPal, and Dropbox. Noteworthy is that Plug and Play is open to collaborating more with Sweden, and who knows, maybe we’ll see a Plug and Play office in Sweden soon.

Event on Policy Exchange – the intersection of innovation and policy

iHubs Sweden together with Green Transition Initiative (GTI) organized an event on Policy Exchange at the Nordic Innovation House in Silicon Valley. Keynote speaker Jim Dukhovny, Founder and CEO of AlefTM, spoke about his flying cars startup AlefTM, followed by a panel discussion with Mark R. Rosekind, Chief Executive Officer at California Mobility Center, Dan Mitchell, Senior Manager, City and Community Engagement at Nuro, Bobby Lee, Director of Marketing at LYT, Karin Rydén, Head of department International Cooperation Vinnova, and Ramses Madou, Planning, Policy, and Sustainability at San Jose DOT & Chair of the Board at Open Mobility Foundation. Moderated by Jessica Alba, Director of Policy & TDM at Stanford University discussing the subject of Policy Exchange.

After the panel discussion was over, the attendees were given the chance to network and engage with each other. This provided an opportunity for attendees to expand their network and foster new relationships. Exchanging ideas and making connections with professionals in their respective fields.

Adjunct Professor Banny Bannerje on Systems Acupuncture

Adjunct Professor Banny Bannerje, the founder of the Global ChangeLabs, gave an insightful lecture at the Nordic Innovation House. The talk was centered on a unique System Innovation method called Systems Acupuncture, which has been gaining recognition for its innovative approach to problem-solving.

After the talk, Banny led a workshop, where the attendees had the opportunity to put the Systems Acupuncture method into practice and gain a deeper understanding of its potential to bring meaningful change. The event was well-received and sparked interesting discussions among the attendees, who were eager to learn more about this innovative approach. Banny's knowledge and passion for the subject made for a very informative and engaging talk.

Our program came full circle as we returned to the Institute For The Future to wrap up this intense yet fun week. We participated in a workshop where we discussed what we had learned throughout the week and formed what the next steps should be for us separately and collectively.

Quote from one of our delegates when asked about the trip:

“I got new insights about how the innovation system can benefit from cooperating with Nordic Innovation House and the network around it. I also got to know members in iHubs on a deeper level. Inspiration and new knowledge through interesting visits at different companies and Stanford University.” – Ann-Sofie Däldehög

To conclude the trip, it was an intense couple of days gaining new knowledge and visiting inspiring companies. We’ve made new connections, strengthened our relationships within the iHubs delegation and established new contacts with businesses in Silicon Valley. For instance, Ignite has initiated a project aimed at strengthening the bond between Silicon Valley and Sweden, with NVIDIA being a participant in this venture.

Overall, the program was inspiring, filled with opportunities for collaboration, rapid innovation, and learning about the future. We left feeling hopeful and excited about our new learnings and what's to come.