After a day full of trending topic talks and intrapreneur case studies on the first day of #IntraCnf Stockholm, we’ll mix and mingle with the local innovation community for a celebration of intrapreneurship during the Talentia Intrapreneur of the Year 2017 Awards.

Of course we’re anxious to know who’s going to win this year, and why.

"In the nomination process we see an increasing amount of digitalization intrapreneurs but also more c-level nominees. The trend tends to be that the official recognition of intrapreneurs in general and even more so intrapreneurial leaders, is increasing", mentions Klas Karlsson Founder and CEO of Talentia, Chairman of the Intrapreneur of the year jury.

As a taster, we asked two former of this prestigious award winners and a current jury member  about what makes a winning intrapreneur – and how they have seen the role of intrapreneurs changing.


In your experience, what makes a winning intrapreneur?

Åsa Caap (CEO Our/Vodka,entrepreneur gone intrapreneur and corporate hacker): First, you need a strong business idea that you AND the company feel confident and excited about. Then, like any entrepreneur or intrapreneur, you need a strong drive to achieve, stubbornness and persistence.

On top of these two things, an intrapreneur also needs to be able to navigate both the start-up world as well as the corporate world. This means you have to be a kind of hybrid person - which is what makes intrapreneuship so hard.

Usually you are either a corporate person or an entrepreneur, intrapreneur has to be both.

Birgitte Stjärne (Intercatalyst): To me a winning intrapreneur is an employee with an extraordinary ability and drive to identify and implement his/her own and/or other people´s ideas, as a major contribution in achieving the overall purpose and vision of the business. Through sharing visions and values, standing up for principles and protecting the team against obstacles and negative influence, the intrapreneur creates a climate for creativity and change.

The intrapreneur´s major task is to identify and engage all the relevant knowledge, skills and ideas, contributed by managers, colleagues, co-workers, customers and other external resources, that are needed to fulfill the vision.

Anki Ahrnell (Chief Digital Officer at Bonnier): Intrapreneurs have many similarities with entrepreneurs. But they are re-inventing a company from the inside as oppose to the entrepreneurs who innovates entirely new companies.

The intrapreneur is continously looking for and identifying new business development opportunities and therefore has to have both analytic and creative skills. The essence in the intrapreneurs task is to paint the target picture, define the map for getting there and find and motivate the right employees to do the job necessary to succeed.


Has the role of intrapreneur/intrapreneurship evolved in the last years? How do you think it is evolving further in the next years?

Åsa: In my experience, companies are now aware of the existence of intrapreneurship and they want part of it. They want what intrapreneuship brings; speed, agility and the possibility of creating something new alongside the core business, without having to interrupt the day to day procedures and processes.

They know they have to innovate and develop new things, and they have started to realize that intrapreneurship could bring this to them in a smart way.

What they're not aware of is that there are consequences to running a start-up within a corporation. Usually you do not need any dramatic changes right away, but it needs be a  strategic decision from top management, and it needs long-term commitment and "protection".

I believe that the nearest future will hold a phase where companies seek to better understand what intrapreneuship really is and how it can best be implemented.

Birgitte: The intrapreneur has always had a key role as the driver of innovation in established companies, but there has been little knowledge about intrapreneurs as individuals. Almost all the intrapreneurs who I have met over the years have not initially identified themselves as intrapreneurs, although they recognized intrapreneurial traits of characters within other people.

This unawareness among intrapreneurs and their managers has made it difficult to study the individual intrapreneur.  Instead focus has been on the entrepreneurs and most references to intrapreneurs has been based on facts about entrepreneurs.

This is now changing and the future role of the intrapreneur and intrapreneurship will be more visible and their importance for innovation will be more accepted as knowledge increases.

Anki: Almost every industry has been disrupted to some extent by digital technologies over the past decade. Going forward the bad news is that most of us will be facing a Kodak moment, being hit by new digital disruptors and ending up with current products and services becoming obsolete. But the good news is that technology, with its enormous innovation power and exponential rate of change, opens up huge opportunities for us to do something greater.

The difference is that technology is no longer only a tool - it is the very air we breathe, the water we swim in, the environment we operate in.

This new technology based paradigm shift drives change exponentially, touching everybody and everything in all parts of society, public space, industry and business. This will require new skills in navigation and creativity both individually, as a company and as a society.

And we will have to embrace the potential of collective intelligence and the importance of collaboration, compassion and genius.


What’s your best piece of advise for other intrapreneurs?

Åsa: Make sure you have what it takes - it is a hard job.

And make sure your company knows what their getting into and that they are committed to support the start-up long term.

Birgitte: Be careful before you jump into a new situation, evaluate the vision and values of the company you plan to work for, secure that you have a sponsor and/or a protector in upper management and make sure that you will get the relevant resources and freedom that you need to drive innovation.

Anki: The winners will be those who understand how technology can be used as an enabler to do something greater.  And who can work agile with continuous business development.

And address and work with all three opportunity tracks in parallel

  • automate to achieve higher efficiency and make cost savings to reduce risk and finds funds for investing
  • create smarter customer interactions in marketing, sales and service to increase revenues and customer experience
  • invest in new ideas and concepts to create new products and services to build new revenues streams

And last but not least – it as all about people. So finding the right people is the ultimate key success factor both as leaders and team members.