Interview with Peter Löfgren, CEO at ABB - Synerleap

30 November 2017

Imagimob is benefiting greatly from being a part of different business innovation networks. We were curious to know more about the driving forces behind the collaboration initiatives between startups and large, established corporates. Why are we, and other tech startups so important for Sweden’s competitiveness?

In this article Annika Englund, Imagimob’s content writer, interviewed Peter Löfgren, CEO and initiator of ABB's subsidiary SynerLeap. On an otherwise rainy November afternoon he sheds some light on what role SynerLeap plays in the innovation equation.

Before we start talking about SynerLeap it would be interesting to know a little bit about you. What can you tell me, how come you wanted to become an engineer?
I come from the idyllic Stenungsund, situated on the west coast of Sweden between Göteborg and Uddevalla. I chose to study the 4-year technology program in high school. I have always enjoyed mathematics and I am rather good at it. I decided to enroll and studied for a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Chalmers. I also achieved a licentiate of engineering degree at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Computational Fluid Dynamics.

So eventually you ended up at ABB?
Yes. I have been with ABB for a very long time - first as a trainee in the 90's. Over the years I have had various positions, for example as line manager and global manager of the ABB Simulation Network. But I wanted to do more.

Like what?
I knew I was good at motivating people, to encourage them to move collectively in the same direction. I am good at coaching, to put it in simple terms.

Today you work with ABB's initiative SynerLeap. Tell me more!
SynerLeap gives startups access to the industry which in turn needs fast and competitive business and tech innovation. So, what we do every day is simply to speed up the innovation cycles in order to enable a way for smaller tech-companies to collaborate with the established industry to grow faster, become more competitive and expand on a global market. Our primary industry focus is automation, robotics and energy solutions.

Our startup members usually don’t have access to the resources and infrastructure that larger and more established enterprise companies have. So, it’s a win-win for all parties that we have the means to offer a matchmaking arena.

The real value of our initiative is to accelerate interaction between different stakeholders which are active in the innovation system. We mainly work with startups of special interest for ABB, but also encourage interplay with other partners like research institutes, universities and VC’s. All stakeholders have the same access to SynerLeap.

So, what is your personal view on Imagimob?
Oh, I love Imagimob! The team has established an impressive list of corporate customers and the company really have supporters in ABB! Like many startups Imagimob has a lot of potential. However, what we are working on and waiting for is the first large-scale project in ABB.

By the way, today ABB’s global CTO is visiting us here in Västerås. Imagimob’s Erik Tengedal is here together with a bunch of other promising startups to dazzle him with their respective solutions.

Which are the hottest technologies according to you right now?
There is a lot of buzz around AI, Machine Learning and Blockchain, but of course there are many interesting areas. Industrial IoT with smart sensors, VR and AR are examples of technologies which are breaking new ground in the industry. Technology trends by all means, but the most important is still the value it brings.

Yes, very interesting technologies! So, if I understand you correctly there is an accept for SynerLeap in other parts of ABB?
Absolutely! But you must understand that ABB is a huge organization with a total of 140.000 employees and SynerLeap is yet a small piece in that equation. Nevertheless, I hope that we are on the path of becoming an important part of a slow, but steady, cultural change in ABB.

What drives you?
I love making a difference! I want to be a part of transforming the future. Sweden has a long industrial tradition and is known internationally for our engineering ingenuity. The past 10 - 15 years a new wave of technology and business innovation has been growing in Sweden, enabled by companies with new business models like Spotify, Klarna, King, Skype, Mojang and others. This type of companies give us the opportunity to once again become industry-leading, this time in the new economy.

Some final words, Peter.
We recently won an award at the Ignite Sweden initiative, and we are super proud of that. It sends the right signals throughout the entire ABB organization that we have truly embarked on the intended journey towards our end-goal.

Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to talk to us!

Thank you!

Read more about SynerLeap here