Henrik Eriksson – the new Chairman of Innovation Pioneers 2021

We are happy to welcome Henrik Eriksson as the Chairman of Innovation Pioneers for 2021. Henrik is responsible for Workplace Strategies and Tenant Advisory at Vasakronan and has been an active member of Innovation Pioneers since 2019.

‘I feel fortunate to become Chairman at a time when there is an intrigue between the physical and digital world. For us at Vasakronan, as a real estate company, this shift is of course of crucial importance for the future. But also, for Innovation Pioneers, a network that has centered around physical meetings, there is now a need to rethink and reevaluate how to do things going forward. It’s an exciting time to be a part of,” says Henrik Eriksson.

Vasakronan is Sweden’s largest real estate company with a portfolio comprising 171 properties. They own, manage and develop centrally located office and retail properties in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Uppsala.

“We always used to say that the personal meeting, the 3D meeting, was the best. At the same time, now when everything has become 2D and remote, we know how great digital formats are for reach and spreading knowledge. We still don’t know where we will be after the pandemic. All physical, all digital, a hybrid? Most likely a hybrid, but what will that actually look like?”

Vasakronan hosted a tank meeting in 2019 on how workspaces can support innovation. A workspace can be defined as a golden combination of three key components – space, technology and people. When balanced right, the workspace can enhance innovation. Is that true also for a digital workspace? The team at Vasakronan are currently exploring the meaning of ‘space’ in the post-pandemic world.

“To be part of Innovation Pioneers has meant that we’ve been able to formalize our work with innovation. It’s inspiring to meet with a cross-industry mix of organizations that are part of the network and learn from each other. If you are open and curious, there is so much value to bring back to your own organization. One positive aspect of Innovation Pioneers’ digital events is that it becomes easier to involve more people from each member organization in the meetings, so that the learnings and discussions can create even more impact back home.”

What are your plans as Chairman of Innovation Pioneers 2021?

”I want to focus more on the distortion between 2D and 3D, to better understand what will come next. With 2D you have the potential to reach more people. At the same time 3D creates more trust and warmth, but only within a closed space. Will we learn to create a perfect agile mix of both parts? It’s interesting to watch new tech like Clubhouse make an entrance on the market and create new formats for social gatherings. In my role as Chairman, I want to explore what technologies can help Innovation Pioneers excel even more going forward.”

“At the same time, it is important to think about the security aspects of going all digital. Sharing online is a great way of expanding our reach, but there is also a risk with putting up everything online. Maybe we need to look at the openness and sharing nature of the network more cautiously? To ensure the best possible balance between or 2D and 3D existence.”

How do you see the network developing in the future?

“I don’t know, time will tell, is one way to put it. Society as we know it is being put to the test right now, and we need to adapt design thinking methods to try out new approaches to almost everything. The pandemic forced us to get rid of the old, and now we are almost all in the same boat trying to figure out what will happen next. Right now, we need to focus on trying and learning.”

“I do think the way towards a better tomorrow is through openness, sharing, more inclusion and more perspectives coming together. For Innovation Pioneers, we don’t need to change our DNA. We should continue to be a platform where corporates, government agencies, academia and other parties come together to share, learn and co-create. Innovation Pioneers can strengthen its position as the natural forum for for the public and private sector to come together and discuss challenges that face all of society. The key is to continue testing new formats to better understand how we can meet to continue creating the most value for each other.”

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