A year after its launch, SynerLeap, ABB’s innovation growth hub located in Sweden, is showing the great things that happen when entrepreneurial tech companies share the expertise and resources of a global innovator.
We began with four startup companies when we inaugurated SynerLeap, at the September 2016 event whose luminary guests included His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden and ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.
We now have 19 startups, all sharing the founding goal of SynerLeap: to create an ecosystem where ABB enables small technology companies to grow and expand on a global stage.
With our focus in three areas — industrial automation, robotics and energy — our aim is to shorten innovation cycles, decrease time to market and together make the companies more competitive. Digitalization is of course present across all areas.
The idea of a technology “incubator” is nothing new.
But SynerLeap doesn’t focus on hatchlings. Instead, here in the heart of the ABB Corporate Research Center in Västerås, Sweden, we give fully fledged startups the opportunity to take flight. Rather than an incubator, think of SynerLeap as an accelerator or growth hub.
Gaining access to ABB’s unique and world-class infrastructure and deep industry knowledge gives SynerLeap member companies the ability to accelerate their growth and market reach. They can tap the power of more than 20 innovative ABB labs in fields that include robotics, mechatronics, high-voltage electronics, prototyping, user experience and digital communications.
And the world is taking note of the SynerLeap partners
Jakob Johansson, the CEO of one of the original members, Gleechi, has been listed by the MIT Technology Review as one of the Top 35 Technology Innovators Under Age 35, for creating “an artificial intelligence system which improves the quality of digital representations of hands in any virtual reality format, giving users the ability to interact with their surroundings in 3D.”
A more recent arrival, which has developed and demonstrated a driverless electronic cargo truck, has been widely written up in the technology media and a leading US news organization, The Washington Post, which marveled over “a new type of vehicle being tested by Swedish start-up Einride’’ that “could soon disrupt the transportation industry.
SynerLeap gives entrepreneurs a wider scope for their vision. Instead of aiming their technologies at the consumer market, they can see the potential of industrial markets and the path for getting there. I’ve often thought, for example, that it’s too bad so many smart brains out there are being used to create apps that are offered on app stores – but are used by few people, if any. Imagine how much greater the global benefit if more of those good brains were being put to use to improve industrial-scale products and services.
That’s the promise of SynerLeap. The Synergies between our partners and ABB’s resources and support system can enable start-ups to take the big Leap.
And we increase the opportunities for synergies, and making the leap, by supporting companies from a variety of fields. Right now, our startups are working in areas that include IoT, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, block chain, smart sensors and next-generation transportation solutions.
SynerLeap members work freely in the ABB Corporate Research Center in order to maximize the interaction with ABB colleagues.
Drinking coffee together, discussing as much as possible and increasing social interaction in other impromptu, yet important, ways is key to shortening innovation cycles.
This social interaction is key to SynerLeap’s method because cultures are very different in a startup and in a large corporation, and trust must be earned. That is the only way to create an innovative environment where everyone benefits. Over the past year, people from both sides came to understand and appreciate that regardless of whether working for SynerLeap or ABB, everyone shared a similar passion for excellence, innovation, creativity. Mutual respect leads to mutual trust.
The collaboration has already led to many common technology development and verification projects. For example, Mobilaris, a SynerLeap company, and ABB provided a system for improved security and decision support for the Apatyt Rusvumchorrsky mine in Russia. Combining Tropos Wi-Fi infrastructure from ABB as a communication route and Mobilaris’ Mining Intelligence application, the solution enables improvements in the mine’s overall safety and productivity.
And this is only the start. During the coming year we will develop even more capabilities through collaboration. So that when we observe SynerLeap’s second anniversary, the celebration will be even bigger.