Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Unlocking Innovation: Ericsson’s Approach to Fostering Intrapreneurship


Unlocking Innovation: Ericsson’s Approach to Fostering Intrapreneurship
At Ericsson, we are constantly pondering over the question, “what’s next?” We believe that innovation is crucial for our business success. However, the term “innovation” has become a buzzword in the corporate world in recent years. It requires effort for businesses to encourage their employees to think creatively. While monetary rewards can stimulate innovative behaviors, it is also important to embed innovation into the corporate culture.

Employees should be inspired by challenges and leaders should ensure that everyone has the chance to express their ideas without fear of judgment and receive necessary feedback for success. With Ericsson ONE, we have demonstrated our commitment to prioritizing innovation and creating an environment that nurtures innovators.
Ericsson ONE: Demonstrating the Importance of Intrapreneurship
The world is not short of entrepreneurs. In fact, over 100 million startups are launched each year, which equates to one every three seconds. We know that our employees at Ericsson are exceptional. They are passionate, talented, and dedicated to our mission and values. Given such a strong talent pool, it is logical that they are more than capable of discovering “What’s Next”. Therefore, we encourage all our employees, regardless of their role or tenure at Ericsson, to share their ideas with Ericsson ONE, our internal accelerator for employees with innovative business ideas. Through this model, we have fostered an environment that supports Ericsson employees in sharing their ideas, pursuing their passions, and ultimately helping us broaden our portfolio.
What happens when an employee shares a promising idea? After receiving initial pitches, the Ericsson ONE team selects the ones with the most potential to proceed to the next stage. The intrapreneur and their team then embark on a swift, step-by-step process which involves quickly creating, testing and validating their prototypes, building a minimum viable product, and if all goes well, developing it into a fully-fledged offering within Ericsson’s growth portfolio. By investing in intrapreneurs, we retain exceptional talent and by investing in new businesses during their early stages, Ericsson becomes part of the value creation and final business outcome.
Moreover, we invest in businesses that align with our mission of making a positive impact on the world—in fact, we are committed to investing only in businesses that meet at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, Ericsson Safe Work is one project currently under development which aims to eliminate workplace injuries and deaths. Safe Work offers a comprehensive safety ecosystem that leverages technologies such as AI, Computer Vision, and IoT technologies to enhance safety protocols.

To facilitate customer adoption of Safe Work, the team has developed an app that verifies workers are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and possess the necessary certifications. It also monitors and continuously tracks vitals and analyzes data to identify patterns in behavior and improve root cause analysis when an incident occurs.

The Advantages of Innovation at Ericsson
While we are keen to invest in intrapreneurs, not every innovator is cut out for intrapreneurship. The culture of startups encourages risk-taking and rapid scaling. However, as part of a larger organization, intrapreneurs need to be more cautious about risk, which may result in slower decision-making with input from more stakeholders. It’s worth noting that 90-99 percent of new startups fail, so the support provided to our intrapreneurs can be a significant advantage if they are comfortable with a more structured environment. So, how do we attract intrapreneurs to share their ideas with us?

We recognize that fostering innovation within Ericsson can offer benefits to the entire business, so we aim to make it appealing to share and develop ideas with us. Besides monetary incentives, Ericsson intrapreneurs are also provided with a unique set of resources to help their startup succeed. Intrapreneurs can tap into Ericsson’s existing customer base spanning 180 countries, a talent pool with deep technical expertise, and our portfolio of 60 thousand patents. These resources and relationships are invaluable and would take years for traditional startups to replicate.

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages we offer our people is the freedom to fail. Failure is understandably one of the biggest deterrents to innovation. By developing a new business within Ericsson ONE, innovators have the liberty to fail and are largely shielded from the potential losses faced by traditional entrepreneurs.

Moreover, becoming an intrapreneur offers the chance for swift career advancement. Anyone whose idea is accelerated by Ericsson ONE has the potential to leap from anywhere within Ericsson and become part of the C-Suite of a new venture. Even if an idea fails along the way, the idea owner would still have developed new leadership skills and experienced accelerated learning that couldn’t be replicated in a standard corporate setting. So, even in a failed case, there is a tremendous opportunity for growth.

“Ericsson ONE supported us in everything from funding to branding, essentially everything we needed to scale our project into a company, which can compete in the market and provide value on an industry scale,” said Vivek Gnanavelu, an Intrapreneur and AI Architect at Ericsson ONE.
Equipping Our People for Their “Eureka Moment”
There isn’t a foolproof strategy to extract ideas from our people, and over time, we’ve observed that the most successful ideas are often those that address a problem experienced by the innovator themselves. For example, Parth Radia, Head of Ericsson Digital Human (EDH), was inspired to create photorealistic holograms and simplified 3D calling due to his desire to connect with his grandmother who lived over 8,000 miles away.

EDH is now the first business from Ericsson ONE to become independent, and they continue to innovate. The EDH team is gearing up to launch an AI-enhanced video API that can translate human video calls both visually and audibly in real time.
Instead of waiting for someone to naturally encounter problems, Ericsson ONE explores other ways to trigger someone’s “eureka moment” where a new idea is sparked. We’ve organized in-person events such as ideation workshops and open houses at Ericsson campuses worldwide. Online,

Ericsson ONE presents monthly challenges for our people to brainstorm ideas for a specific question like “How can connectivity enhance passenger experiences at airports or improve sustainability and efficiency at ports?” or “How can Ericsson make buildings, offices, and workspaces more enjoyable, valuable, and dynamic for users?” We strive to make the idea submission process simple and accessible, allowing anyone at Ericsson to submit their ideas online at any time.
If there’s one final piece of advice for potential intrapreneurs, it’s this—don’t hesitate to share your ideas or worry that someone will dismiss them as foolish. Engage early and be open to collaboration! Don’t wait until an idea is perfect because that moment may never arrive.