Meet Jenny Elfsberg

In Silicon Valley, it’s all about speed, transparency and co-creation. When the Innovation Lab at Volvo Group Connected Solutions was looking for someone to head up its new office in California, Jenny Elfsberg was an obvious candidate. In her job at Volvo Construction Equipment, she had collaborated closely with students at Stanford University and spent a lot of time in the region that has become synonymous with technological development and innovations. 

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

“I really love working here. All the global players are represented in Silicon Valley and the rate of activity is incredible. The Volvo Group simply has to be established here if we are to be a part of the network and the digital ecosystem,” she says.

As Director Innovation Lab US Hub, Jenny Elfsberg is employed by Volvo Group Connected Solutions, responsible for driving the development of connected services and solutions in the Volvo Group. By setting up the Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley, the aim is to leverage external innovation, establish competitive partnerships and facilitate knowledge transfers. “The whole of our industry finds itself in a disruptive phase and Silicon Valley is the centre of it. We can now take advantage of external innovation and co-create with the attractive players there, everything from start-ups to tech giants,” says Anna Westerberg, head of Volvo Group Connected Solutions.

Jenny Elfsberg is the first employee at the office, that locally is called hub335 after the office building, and she will gradually set up a team with a variety of skills. Together with partners and customers, they will rapidly develop and test new digital solutions and services that create customer benefits. The plan is to also give employees from other parts of the Volvo Group the opportunity to work in California on temporary assignments or projects and then take the knowledge back to the organisation. “We have a lot to learn from Silicon Valley when it comes to innovations, working methods and new business models. In addition to driving transformation, I believe the new office is going to help us attract new talent.” says Anna Westerberg.

JENNY ELFSBERG Joined the Volvo Group in 1998 while completing her degree project at Volvo She has worked with engine and software development in many different roles. 2009–2018, she was Director Emerging Technologies at Volvo CE and led a team of research engineers who evaluated new technologies and developed new concepts

Follow Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub, on a day at her job.

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

Three days a week, Jenny Elfsberg starts with an early session at the gym located close to her home in Palo Alto. “We are a small group of ten people with two instructors who train together. For me, training is a way to feel better both physically and mentally. It is also social and fun.”

 

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

To be part of the digital ecosystem in Silicon Valley, speed is essential. “This applies not only to technological development but also in other areas. At the Volvo Group, you can wait three weeks to answer an e-mail. That would never work here! At the same time, everyone is really generous when it comes to collaboration. Skills and money aren’t a problem either. It’s always possible to find a solution if you have a good idea.”

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

To begin with, the Innovation Lab is renting office space at the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto, where there are representatives from start-ups and companies from the Nordic countries. “This is the perfect start. There’s a network here and colleagues I can discuss fun solutions with every day.”

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

In her previous role at Volvo CE, Jenny Elfsberg worked on innovation projects together with the Design School at Stanford University. She is now continuing the partnership. Here, at a meeting with Tamara Carleton, Bill Cockayne och Eric Byler, Stanford associates at the course ME310, a collaboration in design thinking that involves students in both Sweden and the USA.

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

On a visit to Stanford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, with Aravind Kailas from the Volvo Group CTO office in the USA. “Aravind has a lot of competence within Internet of Things. Here we are talking about research connected to the work we do with students from Stanford.”

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Innovation Lab US Hub

Networking is essential for everyone working in Silicon Valley. Since Jenny Elfsberg started her job in California, she has received a lot of enquiries and invitations to different events and meetings. This afternoon, she meets Ido Levy, CEO for a start-up working on driver behaviour and traffic safety, at a café in San Francisco.

The global centre of tech innovation
Silicon Valley refers to a region in the southern San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA. It stretches from Monterrey to Santa Rosa and covers an area of roughly 120 km2. Silicon Valley is a well-known global centre of technological innovation and many of the world’s largest technology companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel and Netflix were started and are headquartered here. It is also home to a myriad of startups and accounts for one third of all of venture investment in the United States. Palo Alto is a small city with a population of less than 70,000, but it serves as headquarters to a number of high-technology companies, including Tesla, Hewlett-Packard and Skype. It is one of the major urban centres in Silicon Valley and the home of Stanford University. The city got its name from a coastal redwood tree and Palo Alto means “tall tree” in Spanish.

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