Some of the biggest companies the world has ever known started in a garage – including Ericsson. Innovation and entrepreneurship are part of our DNA, and today we work closely with a wide range of startups through technology incubation, investment and collaboration.

On April 1, 1876, Lars Magnus Ericsson officially opened the doors to his modest mechanical engineering workshop. It consisted of 13sq m of floor space and two lathes with foot pedals. That was the first Ericsson Garage.

That startup mentality is still with us today. After all, great ideas are born in garages. Our ideas helped change the world with connectivity, and we know that if we want to keep changing the world, we must also lift others who are trying to change it with us.

Inside the Ericsson Garage

Diomedes Kastanis, Head of Business Innovation and Head of Ericsson Silicon Valley, says that creating the right environment to foster innovation is crucial to success in the technology landscape.

“Disruptive thinking does not happen on demand,” says Kastanis. “Rather than planning for innovation or telling your employees to “be innovative,” you must create the right conditions for innovation, while the ability and means to be experimental will catalyze it organically.”

With this in mind, the Ericsson Garage provides innovators and start-ups worldwide with the space to create ground-breaking solutions to real industry problems. From public transportation optimization to increasing SME manufacturing productivity, creating safer mines, and even controlling drones with telehaptics, it’s all happening in the Ericsson Garage.

“We created the Ericsson Garage in January 2014 on the back of our Ericsson Research strategy work that identified the importance of asking the right questions to find the right solution,” says Sándor Albrecht, Research Director and Founder of the Ericsson Garage. “Just to be obsessed with technology is not enough, we had to change our mindset when approaching new ideas and try to be obsessed with the pain-point and developing a solution to solve that specific pain-point.”

It’s this winning formula that has led to the organic growth of the Ericsson Garage driven by both internal and external demand, now having 10 locations around the world: 3 in North America, and 7 in Europe. The latest Ericsson Garage opened in Lund, Sweden on Sept 7th, 2017 with plans to add two more locations in Europe in the future.

Fostering the next generation of innovators

As part of the annual Stockholm Tech Fest, the Ericsson Garage Startup Challenge 2017 offered entrepreneurs the opportunity to be considered for venture capital investment and technology incubation in the Ericsson Garage global network. Over 150 global startups registered for the challenge, which concluded on September 5 with a Dragon’s Den-style finals at the Ericsson Studio in Stockholm. 

“The three winners will now work with us very closely in the Ericsson Garage for the next eight months,” Albrecht says. “We are at the beginning of our journey with start-ups, and are very much looking forward to coming year and working with them to take their ideas from the garage to the world.”

Our innovation efforts are not, however, limited to the Ericsson Garage.  Each year, we also host the Ericsson Innovation Awards, a global competition that challenges students all around the world to find innovative solutions to tough problems. In 2017, over 900 teams from more than 70 countries entered the competition, having developed their innovative ideas around the theme of “the future of food”. Alongside the cash prizes for winners, the opportunity to work closely with Ericsson to make their solutions both a reality and commercially viable is the major drawcard for participants.

MajBritt Arfert, Head of Human Resources, Ericsson, says: "The Ericsson Innovation Awards are a great opportunity for us, and our Ericsson experts mentoring the teams, to inspire and be inspired by these young and brilliant minds."

Startup initiative in the heart of Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley ecosystem is essential for any company looking to engage at the epicenter of innovation. Ericsson’s presence in Silicon Valley is about working and sharing with the entrepreneurs and partners who have potentially game-changing ideas.

Recently, Ericsson hosted its second annual Startup Day in Silicon Valley, September 10-11. The event featured a host of startups in 5G, edge computing and artificial intelligence and provided attendees with the opportunity to participate in deep discussions and connect with the right collaborators to help capture the opportunities as innovations such as E2E compute, smart transport and intelligent networks.

Beyond collaboration with the startup community Ericsson is also an active investor.  Ericsson Ventures invests in leading companies to drive innovation in new areas, accelerate our core business and generate strong returns. Some of the ventures where we have invested include AI, machine intelligence, connected car, security, AR, VR and analytics.

Ericsson has been leading innovation for over 140 years. Learn how we continue to innovate with other great minds as we enter the era of 5G, IoT and cloud network infrastructure.