WeSchool Students tour Sweden – what they have to say might surprise you

11 students spent 11 days in Sweden to understand business and innovation. What they came away with was a respect for equality and the importance of being able to swim.

In April 2014, the India Sweden Innovations’ Accelerator tied up with Mälardalen University and WeSchool Mumbai. The Accelerator gave WeSchool students the unique opportunity to work with Swedish innovation companies, to test their business skills and develop marketing plans for India engagement.

On August 29th, 2014 a panel of experts reviewed these plans. The team of Omkar Ramnade, Sagar Deshmukh, Shashank Angadi and Virednra Singh Shekhawat, working with Exeger’s product of Dye-Sentised Solar Cells were selected as the winners, having presented the strongest proposition of market integration into India.  The winning team was rewarded with a two-week corporate placement programme, supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and facilitated by Mälardalen University. Between October 9-20th the students visited Swedish companies, and made a face-to-face business pitch to Giovanni Filli, CEO Exeger AB.

At their closing presentation to the faculty and students of Mälardalen University’s Idealab, it was clear that they had received more in their two weeks in Sweden than just discussions of clean technology and the business mind-set. They visited innovation companies and industrial giants such as Ericsson, Ikea, and ICA, but also visited the Nobel Museum, did team-building exercises outdoors, and had dinner and many fikas with the hosts at Mälardalen. So when the time came for the students to give feedback on their visit, how they felt it would impact their work back in India, and what they think India could take from Sweden, their answers focused on the need to break down hierarchal institutional structures, and the challenges to real innovative thinking that come about when people are forced to compete. They took note and commended the fact that despite perfect grade point averages, students would not be allowed to graduate until they had passed their swimming test.

Their presentation drew the parallels between Sweden’s focus on regional development in both rural and urban areas and the need for India to develop its rural areas to avoid distress migration and overcrowded cities.

Waste management was highlighted, and the students visited the nearby Eskilstuna waste management, where ‘optic sorting’ had taken away a lot of the difficulty with waste segregation. In light of India’s recently introduced Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign), the actions taken by Sweden were seen to be worth replicating.