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Yet another report – to no avail

The current Swedish government supposedly prioritizes support for small companies.  They made election promises about how they would create conditions for stimulating the flow of private investment to smaller enterprises through various tax incentives. According to Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest newspaper, yet another investigation in this area has been completed. And guess what? The Ministry of Finance just realized that in order to offer tax deductions to venture capitalists, they’d have to compensate for loss of income through increases somewhere else. Of course, I’m not a brilliant financial expert, but it appears to me that a scheme deliberately designed to support the development of new enterprises, which will ulitimatly grow and create jobs and stimulate economic activity, is a darn good deal for the country.  But of course, that’s only if you think longterm and not just as far as next year’s election.

On a more positive note – We recently completed the selection of this year’s Climate Solvers. 7 technologies with the combined potential to reduce emissions by 600 million tons/year by 2020 will be profiled here tomorrow. Exciting new solutions with the potential to radically reduce CO2 emissions here and abroad - given the right conditions for entrepreneursip.

How to Save the Planet – a Climate Solver tells it like it is

 

Johan Silverklev and Maud Olofsson

Every summer Swedish politicians and their stakeholders meet for a week of lectures, lobbying and liasing on Gotland, a large island off the southeast coast. WWF convinced the organizers of an opening seiminar to invite Climate Solver Johan Silverklev, CEO at Air to Air, to participate in a panel discussion entitled New Leadership – defining how to save the planet. Johan did a truly fantastic job representing the entrepreneur’s perspective, and clearly identified faults in the innovation system that prevented society from benefiting from climate technologies with the potential to radically reduce CO2 emissions.

Oh, and the other panelists weren’t too bad either – the Leading Ladies: Gro Harlem Brundtland, Member of the Club of Madrid and Former Prime Minister of Norway. Mary Robinson, Vice President of the Club of Madrid and Former President of Ireland,Margot Wahlström, Vice President of the European Commission, and Maud Olofsson, Minister of Enterprise and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden.

Johan identified 3 main problems and offered smart advice as to how they could be tackled:

Problem 1. Today, someone with an idea must qualify it every time they are in need of assistance, be it for writing a business plan or finding a VC. If we entrepreneurs had a dollar for every slap on the back we get, we wouldn’t need any financial help.
My suggestion: A centralised qualification system divided into stages where every stage qualifies for the next. This provides correct help at the correct time. This way, for every time the project qualifies, it gains value and moves forward.

Problem 2. Most technical entrepreneurs have never had any education in business, and thus couldn’t make a believable forecast or financial analysis of an idea if their life depended on it. They still have to depend on the goodwill of business people when asking for help though. And quite probably, the business person won’t understand the beauty of the technology because they in turn, don’t have a technical education. And so the entrepreneur is often sent home without getting the help he or she needs. It’s time to design a system that focuses not only on the product, but also on the entrepreneur behind it.
My suggestion: Different stages of development require different focuses. With a centralised step-based qualification, the system is able to recognise the need for personal, technological and economic assistance when they are needed. Remember that quite often it’s the person, not necessarily the product, that is successful.

Problem 3. When employing someone in Sweden, the net salary is only about 50% of the company’s total cost for paying that salary. This means most new companies can never afford to hire specialist help, resulting in the entrepreneur having to become something of a renaissance artist, ie know everything and do everything by him/herself.
My suggestion: Lighten or abolish the “social fees” for development companies so that they may hire the help needed to successfully grow and build competence capital in-house instead of buying competence when they can afford it.