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Idélaboratoriet is a consulting company specializing in creativity and innovation. Idélaboratoriet was founded in 2000.

Idélaboratoriet works in the field of creativity and innovation. We create value for our clients for example through innovation strategy planning, facilitation of creative processes, training programs in professional idea creation and implementation of digital idea management solutions.

Idélaboratoriet is Swedish for The Idea Lab.

Idélaboratoriet was founded in Sweden and has its headquarters in Malmö in southern Sweden, but works with clients worldwide.

Idélaboratoriet likes to say that creativity is a process of getting original ideas that have some sort of value and innovation is the profitable implementation of creativity.

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#29 Dragon Magic – Innovation in China

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The Serious Innovation Newsletter #29

”Science and technology is the primary tool to create growth” said the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980’s when he started the world’s biggest change project ever, trying to transform China into a market economy. “No shit” said we. Today everyone who looks at the amazing skyline of Shanghai and hears the Chinese president Hu Jintao start talking become astonished. “Wholly shit”, said we. Right now China’s investments in research and development increases more than in any other country in the world. The goal is growth, wealth and China’s first Nobel Prize!

For every year that have come closer to the Beijing Olympics of 2008 the world has become aware of Red Army being a more and more prominent force in world sports. At least within the sports where it is possible to become Olympic champions. China is already and will most certainly be a major superpower in sports in the near future with Beijing 2008 as the first trial phase of domination. From the physical arena China are now focusing on the mental capacities – China’s next goal is to dominate the world championship in knowledge, the Nobel Prize.

So, how will that be possible? Once again it is impossible to mention that the Hu Jintao has increased the public spending on R&D to 2,5% of the GDP. Percentagewise that is still lower than the Nordic countries which are the global leaders in that category spending around 4% of the GDP on R&D. But counting real money, the Chinese investments are unimaginable 155 billion US-dollars. The Swedish writer Ola Wong writes in his excellent book When Thousand Fires Touches the Sky that China will not be satisfied with being the world’s workshop and producer to all the Wal Mart’s of the West. Instead the national political answer to world domination and the big problems that China faces (“poverty, pollution, the need for natural resources and the risks of pandemics like the bird flu”) is science and innovation. China has educated more than one million students abroad since the 1980’s. Students that has absorbed the knowledge of the Western world like sponge cloths are now returning to the Chinese universities as young professors with American ph.d.’s.

After having visited the two leading business schools in China, Fudan in Shanghai and Tsinghua in Beijing, We can just confirm the already stated truth. China is becoming world class. The first thing that strikes you is the new and grand campuses and its buildings. It is all done on a scale that makes people coming from a small country like Sweden feel just that, very small. The education and the pedagogy is partly traditional and the knowledge and phrasing in English is somewhat scrappy (but how many of us speak mandarin), but the cases are international and the work ethic and the eagerness is striking. Wong writes that in 1996 China was ranked as number 14 in the world league of publishing scientific papers. Today China is number 5. Within six years China aims to be the global leader in biotech and information technology.

But can that be achieved? Aren’t there a multitude of obstacles for innovation in China? Of course the Chinese road of innovation will be a rocky one. First and foremost there is the problem of freedom of speech. It is hard to have revolutionary and groundbreaking new ideas that will change the order and balance of things, if you are not sure if you are going to be accused of being anti-Chinese or “obstructing peace and order”. There is also a problem with the free flow of ideas and knowledge in a country that has blocked a large amount of sites on the internet because of various reasons (take a look at to see which sites are being blocked). The censorship actions that Google and Microsoft has incorporated into their software after discussions with the Chinese government smells really bad and does not help either the innovation potential nor the democratic movement in China. There is also a big cultural problem of innovation in China, where tradition says that you are not supposed to question authorities and you cannot by all means “lose face” saying something that might not be totally by the book. And how are you supposed to want to think up something new and original if you are used to think according to party rules and regulations or run the risk of getting punished for not doing just that?

But with enormous research budgets, armies of well educated scientists and the willingness to work extremely hard (nota bene Mao Zedong’s credo: ”A Revolution is not a tea party” which I still valid…) China will of course come a long way – the only things that seems to lack are the eccentric Einsteinian nerds and the skateboarding it-entrepreneurs!

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