Finding solutions together
Nobel Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition launched in Shanghai
Published: Mar 27, 2017 07:08 PM

A memorandum of understanding was signed Thursday in Shanghai between the Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and Yangpu district government to officially announce the Nobel Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition.

The top winners of the competition will have an opportunity to visit Sweden. University students in China are encouraged to participate in the event.

Lisette Lindahl (pictured above), Consul General of Consulate General of Sweden, said that Mr Nobel himself was a remarkable entrepreneur and innovator.

"But I believe his biggest innovations were not the products and businesses he created, but rather the Nobel Prize itself. By creating this prize, Mr Nobel came up with a way to inspire discovery and innovation, celebrating the human mind, inviting the rest of the world to share. And this has lasted for a long time after his lifetime; even today, more than 100 years after his death."

"Alfred Nobel is a widely known figure for his founding of the Nobel Prize. Mr Nobel was not only a scientist, but also an inventor with 355 patents and an entrepreneur who established about 100 enterprises in 20 countries of five continents," echoed professor Zhao Xu (above), executive director of school of entrepreneurship and innovation in SJTU.

Consul General Lindahl expressed her honor to launch this event. She told the audience that Sweden is frequently on top of various global innovation rankings.

In the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index, Sweden ranked second. According to another ranking, the European Innovation Scoreboard, Sweden ranked as the most innovative country in Europe.

(From left) Ma Qing, an official from Yangpu district government, Lisette Lindahl, Consul General of Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai and Zhao Xu, executive director of school of entrepreneurship and innovation at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, pose for the MOU signing. Photos: Courtesy of Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai

The secret to success

In analyzing the secret to Sweden's success, some point to hard factors such as its universities and labs, the progressive Swedish government and its generous welfare policies and the nation's many innovative companies. Others point to soft factors like the general mind-set of Swedes.

Comparing Sweden with other western European countries, however, there is not much difference in the hardware; their universities are at the same level, as are their facilities.

Thus, when attempting to understand what makes Sweden perform better on global rankings than other countries, experts examine the people and their innovative, spirited mind-set.

Swedish society is also known to be informal and unhierarchical. This applies to both the government and company culture.

From early childhood, Swedes are encouraged to be curious, to ask questions and to try new things. They are encouraged to look around, pick up ideas from other places and other countries. In short, to be global citizens.

This type of culture is believed to help create a mentality where citizens truly believe that anything is possible; that anyone and everyone can make a difference.

If you do not have the whole solution yourself, then maybe someone in China is the person to connect with for that missing part, to learn from each other and find solutions together.

Spreading inspiration

The Nobel Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition marked a new era of cooperation between the Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai, SJTU and Yangpu district government.

Zhao Xu delivered a speech at the launch ceremony. She told the audience that SJTU has been endowed with a worldwide perspective, making it an institution driven by entrepreneurship and innovation.

During the last five years, SJTU students continually held the top spot of four national entrepreneur and innovation competitions: Challenge Cup National Undergraduate Curricular Academic Science and Technology Competition of the year 2011, 2013 and 2015, and the first national Youth Entrepreneur and Innovation Competition in 2014.

In 2016, SJTU and Yangpu district were selected as the first group of National Innovation and Entrepreneur Exemplary Base.

Numerous SJTU alumni are now actively taking part in innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as entrepreneur investments, which has made great contributions in developing more advanced technology, more dynamic industries and forming a better industry ecology.

Zhao continued to say that the reason why SJTU, the Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai and Yangpu district government launched the Nobel competition was to spread Mr Nobel's inspiration and enthusiasm for the advancement of humanity among young people from both Sweden and China.

In turn, they believe this spirit will spread through frontier fields including new resources, new materials, AI (artificial intelligence), big-data science while also contributing to the wisdom and power of youth in a global economy.

SJTU will extend the warmest welcome to students from top institutions such as C9 League and China Europe International Business School to compete and cooperate with the most creative Swedish students in the area of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Here in Shanghai, one of the most influential innovation centers, the organizers believe all creations and enthusiastic dreams of young people will be achieved.