Anne Lidgard, #SiliconValley Director at Swedish #Innovation Agency VINNOVA – an inspiring Leader in a #Digitalfirst world

We share interviews with inspiring leaders taking a proactive role in a time of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and embracing the digital world.

Many business leaders feel less knowledgeable or involved in digital transformation and social media, which is why we believe it is important to take inspiration from some of the more digital leaders, to understand more of their personal journey and get access to some of their insights.

Our next leader is Anne Lidgard.  Anne is heading the Silicon Valley Office at VINNOVA – the Swedish Innovation Agency.  The mission of the Vinnova Silicon Valley office is to spot new trends, facilitate access for Swedish startups to the Silicon Valley eco system and to increase awareness in the Bay area of Sweden as a dynamic innovative region. The office is located at Stanford University.

Anne is passionate about new technologies and the opportunities that they can bring, and to find new ways of doing things.

Anne’s journey to become a #Digital Leader

So how did Anne come into this Director position she currently holds? Listen to Anne’s  response (if the video does not open, you may watch it here);

Anne Lidgard has been part of Vinnova and the Vinnova Management team the last ten years. Anne started up in the private sector, where she worked on physics in the Swedish company Ericsson at the Ericsson Fiber Lab. She later moved on to other parts of the Swedish Ericsson, as Ericsson Mobile Communications, at the time when Ericsson joined forces with Sony.

There are many routes that take you into leadership positions in the digital world, again it is proven that a core drive will be for leaders to be passionately curious and embrace risk to move forward in this new world, in Anne’s case that was a curiosity of technology itself and how to make it useful.

The mission for Anne today is to make it easier for Swedish startups to make it easier to use the eco system of Silicon Valley. Also to keep an eye on new trends and what the policy implications would be for Sweden is part of her work.

Which #Digital Trends, Businesses and Leaders to monitor?

Which trends and examples of businesses and leaders does Anne believe we should keep our eyes on going forward? Listen to Anne’s insights here (if the video does not open, you may watch it here):

What is obvious is how digitization is moving into every part of the business and every part of the industry. Now it is coming together and can really go and transform businesses. Think of the opportunities for the companies that realize this and embrace how this can be applied. Many products today are completely digitized, but companies also digitize how they interact with employees and with customers, the entire value chain can become digitized. Anne would be worried if you didn’t have somebody today at your company in charge of digitization and the strategy for digitization. She sees startup companies coming and disrupting businesses we thought would go on forever.  It’s very exciting, but it also calls for action!

Many companies have started to use resources more efficiently; we are talking about the shared economy.  How can we use the things we have more effective, more than maybe one tenth of time, which also makes more sense from a sustainability aspect. Anne is aware of the challenges as legal and regulatory issues, which have to catch up ultimately.

In the energy and sustainability areas, Elon Musk is one of Anne’s heroes. He is a bit crazy, but also one of the most mission driven people that enables people to do the impossible says Anne. Who would have thought that a startup like his SpaceX would be a supplier to NASA? The ones that see a goal that is ultimately bigger than themselves are the ones Anne respect, and which have the endurance and persistence to work towards those goals.

Anne mentions that one major difference between the ecosystems in Silicon Valley and in Sweden is how larger corporations interact with startups, with a higher awareness among the larger companies on how startups can enrich them. But it does require a change of mindset among the management at the larger companies. Open up for experimentation with the smaller companies, use more of the design thinking methods instead of long evaluations, embrace more of an open innovation mindset, recommends Anne. It will improve your chances of staying on top, as well as helping startups and the eco system.

Give and get inspiration and value through networks

What networks does Anne believe will bring value to both to herself as well as to her business? Don’t miss out on Anne’s response to our final question – which furniture she would be (if the video does not open, you may watch it here)…

Silicon valley is all about networking, says Anne. Events that she goes to are for example organized by Silicon Valley Forum, and, more specifically, like Meetups in digital health. Silicon Vikings are doing a good job in promoting Nordics.

She has also benefitted from an old network of Ericsson Female Executives that still keeps in contact.

And thanks to the relationship between Wallenberg Foundation and Stanford, Anne is now a visiting scholar at Stanford, which helps in understanding how Universities develop, but also gives access to research on business trends.

Finally, as furniture, Anne would be ……… a wheelchair! Because it is not stationary and has a role to support which is part of her role and brings her great joy!

How to become more #digitallyInvolved

To get more insight of what Anne knows and shares, we highly recommend you to follow her on Twitter @annlid . You can also follow the house she supports and where we held the interview, the innovation house in Palo Alto, which the Nordic Countries shares; @innorhose , which is home to many Nordic startups including our own @digoshen .  More insights on Silicon Valley can be found by following @SVForum  and @siliconvikings .

For those interested in Swedish Startups you can check out The Swedish Startup Space and follow them on twitter @the startupspace  or follow @Sthlmtech who is organizing startup and investment Meetups.

As a partner at the Swedish venture capital firm STOAF , we are very proud to have one of our partners; Anette Nordvall to be joining Anne in Silicon Valley during in a fellowship program sponsored by Vinnova (Announced in Swedish here ) . On Twitter you can follow STOAF at @StoafSE and Anette at @Nordvalla

We believe it is important to share insights from inspiring #digital1st thought leaders, if you are one of them or know someone we should talk to, please send us a hint via or via twitter @digoshen .

These interviews are shared both on my own blog as well as on the blog of Digoshen, where I am Chairman of the Board.

At Digoshen we believe that Companies, Boards and Business Leadership Teams need to understand more of the digital world to fully leverage the potential when bringing their business into the digital age.

We provide inspiration and support to help transition business leaders into more insightful digital positions for themselves and their companies.

Follow us on twitter: @digoshen , our CEO @katycaroan and Chairman @liseeng