The Stockholm E-Lab is a joint initiative building on the experience and activities at Karolinska Institutet and Openlab.

The Stockholm E-Lab organises activities to transfer and share knowledge about challenge-driven education and innovation with a focus on design thinking. The goal is to inspire, educate and share knowledge and experience on how to engage students in innovation and entrepreneurship and develop their innovations skills.

The Stockholm E-Lab in 2016 and 2017

Design Thinking Challenges – In collaboration with local hosts and challenge providers

In 2016 a workshop series was developed to involve and engage students in innovation and entrepreneurial thinking by a three-day workshop in the format of a 3-day “Design thinking challenge competition”. A recompetition
“Train the trainer” workshop was also developed to get teachers, researchers and partners to get acquainted with design thinking, and to be engaged in the competition. The challenges, in line with the EIT Health focus area, were defined in close dialogue with the local public services, health care environments, companies or local partners (figure 1). In 2016 workshops were organised in Stockholm, Lisbon and Erlangen with +100 participants.

In 2017 we will continue to develop the concept of “EIT Health design thinking challenges” with partners throughout Europe. This year we will focus more on the “Train the trainer” workshop. We will also integrate the activities with the other pillars even more, for example receiving challenges from the innovation pillar and communicate the results with the business creation pillar.

Practical Placements – Students addressing challenges in a corporate setting

In 2016 a pilot was carried out inviting students doing practical placements at companies or organisation to specifically use the design thinking method for their project (figure 2). An EIT Health “sponsored” practical placement has the potential to create value for several stakeholders. It enables students to practise business tools in a business context, explore design thinking as a method for a specific project and get a deeper understanding for challenges in relation to healthy living and active ageing. The companies will get a motived student working on their specific challenge, supported and supervised by academic design thinking coaches. At the same time, EIT Health will get an opportunity to link different pillars. In 2016 one student did a project at the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie.

The result from 2016 has now been evaluated and the concept further developed. For 2017 the aim is to adopt the concept to the thesis projects.

Focus for 2018

Continue with the focus on design thinking to 1) inspire, 2) educate and 3) share design methods for challenge driven innovation in workshops and courses. The desire for training in need based innovation process adds
value to the implementation of an innovative mindset. A mindset that still many organizations lack. It requires building of competence of and challenging their own way solving daily problems. But also gives opportunity to inspire new models for healthcare services and ways how to think about it. Taking the learning by doing approach, we aim to enable a wide array of stakeholders (from students to organisations) to practice this and thus change the mindset through doing. In this way we foster innovation capacity not only within our organisation but also other CLCs throughout the EIT Health network.

Activities for 2018

In 2018 we will tilt the basis towards learning activities. Instead of having companies and organisation to present challenges for invited participants to address, we will present specifically interesting societal challenges for a mixed group of students, company representatives, healthcare professionals, researchers and entrepreneurs to address and thus work on a more systemic level, enabling different stakeholders to participate equally in a change process (figure 3). In this way the learning process will shift from individual to system level.

As an example, we could present a challenge in line with sharing economy and its implications for healthcare. We could also work in collaboration with the health care system, for example a specific clinic or hospital ward.
In the latter case, a local planning and follow-up phase for organisational learning and implementation of action could be added to the interactive workshops. Already ongoing initiatives and cases that address similar
challenges can be used as examples to elaborate on in the activities and to adjust it to local contexts. Based on the needs of the different stakeholders (client/patient/citizens), the goal of the activities can be both to produce
concepts inspired by new business models but also strategies for how to realize disruptive innovations in a highly regulated market such as healthcare. The activities will be open for participants from all the partners and will held in different local contexts.
We will continue implementing design thinking into organisations through the practical placement activity. As a next step, Interdisciplinary thesis projects with students from different educational backgrounds will be
interesting to explore further.
The process and the result of these activities will be shared with the network through the digital E-Lab platform. It will be an important tool to not only share best practices and ideas, but also to involve other CLCs
and the EIT Health consortium. We see the dissemination of our approach as an important result of our work in order to change the mindset of individuals to organisation towards nurturing more innovation.

Contact details

Unit for bioentrepreneurship


Ivar Björkman, Professor, Executive director, Openlab, +46 8736441413

Johan Bornebusch, Course director and workshop coach, Openlab, +46 703731013