Bright future for the intrapreneur

Katarina Blomkvist is a researcher of business studies at Uppsala University. In 2022, she founded the company Daily Innovation 364 to help businesses strengthen their ability to innovate.

Intrapreneurship is a key issue for all organisations, whether in the private or the public sector. So says Katarina Blomkvist, who has spent her entire research career studying how existing companies can improve their innovation capacity and competitive ability.

“The organisations we work with see a need for a new approach to meet new challenges, and need to develop an innovation identity. They can also be fast-growing companies that want to make sure they retain their entrepreneurial core and ensure that it includes everyone in the organisation,” explains Katarina Blomkvist.

She is a researcher at the Department of Business Studies and co-founder of Daily Innovation 364, whose business concept is to help organisations and companies identify, activate and strengthen their innovation capacity.

Renewal in existing organisations

“Intrapreneurship is about fresh thinking and renewal in existing organisations. It also involves more than innovation, as intrapreneurship includes both constant and radical renewal and thus involves the entire organisation,” says Katarina Blomkvist.

She is keen to emphasise that intrapreneurship is not something new. It is something that has been revived.

“It’s just been a bit dormant and has been given a new lease of life now that we have these major shifts in society, such as the green transition and digital transformation. This means that existing business models and ways of building organisations no longer work. Intrapreneurship then becomes pivotal. Starting new businesses is very important, but start-ups cannot solve these complex challenges on their own.” 

A new core competence

So how can you unlock the innovative power of existing organisations? With the method developed by Katarina Blomkvist, you can measure different parameters and identify both the innovative power of an organisation and how it can be activated and improved – all in a matter of 15 minutes. According to Katarina Blomkvist, these parameters range from the willingness and motivation of employees to the number of intrapreneurs and the structure, culture and procedures of the organisation.

“Innovation is often considered to be related to the commitment level of management and employees, but more is needed to make it fly. As a researcher, I am used to looking at specific factors in an organisational context that help things along.”

What Katarina Blomkvist has also often seen in her research is that intrapreneurs are few in number, far too few to maximise the power of innovation.

Can anyone be an intrapreneur?

“Yes, everyone can and should be an intrapreneur, but some should focus on operational improvements, while others should work on the development of new concepts and solutions. Everyone needs to think about what can be improved in what they do. It is a new skill that employees need to have.”

Mentor programme was the starting point for idea development

For Katarina Blomkvist, it was far from obvious how to transform her knowledge of how organisations can successfully renew themselves into a concrete product that people can talk about, gather around and use, and that can make a difference. UU Innovation’s mentor programme was an eye-opener and a source of inspiration.

“It was so cool to hear what the other participants saw as opportunities with their research, and hear them talk about their ideas and ambitions to develop new solutions. It really opened my eyes to how research, with some adaptation, can become important innovations that contribute to a better society.”

Realising the potential benefits

Katarina Blomkvist believes that researchers in the social sciences can be game changers when it comes to finding new sustainable solutions for building tomorrow’s society. However, the research needs to be packaged differently than, for example, publications in order to be applicable and create benefits outside academia, and it is here you may need help from others.

Katarina Blomkvist took part in UU Innovation’s mentor programme in 2018, and is still in contact with her former mentor Joakim Ingers.

“My journey from research results to a working solution has taken time, with contributions from many people along the way, such as Joakim Ingers, who opened up his network,” she says.

And her journey is far from over. Katarina Blomkvist and her team see major development opportunities for the product.

“It is a matter of continuing to update and validate it with qualitative research in the field, and a matter of expanding it over time with more digital functions to help organisations activate their innovative power and enable systematic follow-up and development.”

Sara Gredemark

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