With a background as a powertrain engineer and having worked as a business developer with connected services within the Volvo Group, Vishnu Rajanikanth is now a Senior Innovation Manager with focus on technology and business innovation at CampX, Volvo Group’s innovation hub in Gothenburg.
“Volvo Group has a clear ambition on becoming a leader in sustainable transport solutions and a zero-emissions company by 2050. To succeed, we need to accelerate innovation in terms of both speed and impact. It’s very satisfying to feel that what I do will help Volvo Group reach its business and sustainability goals,” says Vishnu.
“You can say that my job is to be a match-maker and a catalyst. I help my colleagues solve problems they encounter in their development projects by connecting them to outside expertise in the form of tech, startups and established companies. I have an ongoing dialogue with the development teams and business areas to understand their challenges, and then I match them with external partners that can help them collaborate more effectively.”
An ear to the ground
“Part of my job is to stay updated on what is happening when it comes to technology development outside of Volvo, and what technical solutions and companies with edge tech competence are available out there. It’s a fast changing environment. Sometimes I can propose a solution to my colleagues’ that they had not thought of,” says Vishnu.
Vishnu and the other innovation managers at CampX use a portfolio approach to start and to monitor innovation projects. The goal is to quickly develop a “POV”, a Proof of Value, which defines if the specific project has a value for the business and should be further developed. This could be either to integrate the solution into one of the business areas of Volvo Group, or to do a so-called spin-off, where a new business is created based on the innovation.
Speed and scalability is key
Speed and scalability are key when it comes to innovation. In order to shorten time to market for new products and services, it’s important to innovate quickly. For innovative solutions to be viable for Volvo Group in the long run, they must be possible to scale up in terms of volumes and customer value.
“CampX is an arena for the Volvo Group organization to plug-in and try new ways of working. We experiment – and we do it fast. Not all ideas will fly. I like that we are working together cross-functionally with all parts of the organization here. I am convinced this is the right way to speed up innovation and develop great products and services with value for our customers.”
When Vishnu and his colleagues find an external partner that they want to bring to CampX, an innovation agreement framework makes it possible to start the collaboration quicker than the traditional process. Sometimes the company in question moves physically to sit with the Volvo engineers at CampX, other times the collaboration is virtual via digital tools.
Has the pandemic changed the way of working?
“Our underlying mission still remains; to support the transformation of Volvo Group into a provider of sustainable, zero-emissions vehicles and infrastructure solutions. The challenge now is to prioritize even harder in choosing the right innovation projects without losing our flexibility.”
This is CampX by Volvo Group
CampX is Volvo Group innovation arena with the goal to accelerate technology and business innovation. CampX in Gothenburg was inaugurated in March 2019. Here some 500 employees work with new technologies like electromobility, automation, digitalization and AI to develop the sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions of tomorrow.