As a founder and CEO of Collabwith, I wanted to share my story and our story of why Collabwith is here, and why we are so committed to a public mission as it is to support universities to transfer their research results to industry, society, startups and whoever needs it. This is what some people is asking us, why Collabwith is a private entity if you are helping public organizations. Well, we are not only helping public organizations, we help corporates, SMEs and startups to understand the importance of innovation and adoption of innovative solutions from “others”, and in this “others” you can see universities, research results, startup solutions, or other SME solutions. But still, this could be seen as a public mission, and yes, at Collabwith we are very comfortable with this mission of feeling and thinking every day that we have a social impact with our daily work.
At the beginning, I created Collabwith thinking of my old self, when I was an Innovation Manager at adidas Group and I wanted to do my job as best I could (yes, I did, even we have several awards related to innovation from SAP, and Service desk- I can tell you how we did it, and how you can do it too). So, I was reading books from harvard, blog articles from innovationmanagement.se (even, I was printing them and highlighting a lot of the text), I was asking to my boss to attend in person trainings in one side, and in the other, I was creating the new strategy to collaborate with academics and startups and other external partners. Why? Because I was coming from R&D labs where I was used to work with a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, universities, startups, corporates, SMEs and all mixed up to create super cool innovative solutions. As innovation manager, I aimed for the same but not only as an isolated projects, but as an ongoing mindset and thinking.
At that time, I was committed to create a list on a spreadsheet with the universities, academics and their research projects related to the fields I was responsible to innovate. It was a manual and hard work and after months of doing this (besides my daily tasks of managing, projects, etc) I started thinking that why not there is a place on the internet with all of this information easy to access, and to create my own lists. But again… I faced other issues, for instance when I was contacting those “academics” I had in my list, they didn’t answered, even if I was sending an email from adidas. Well, when I was successful, I experienced the long legal negotiations, the endless meetings without further steps, and projects that ended with a minimum concept of the first idea due to the bottlenecks and blockroads.
I don’t know if my story will help you in your journey, but that experience and of course other experiences and results before and after that helped me to create the “Collaboration Canvas” methodology and to write the book “Innovation and Collaboration in the Digital Era” and to create the Collabwith digital platform to support the tasks of my old self as innovation manager.
And this is an ongoing journey, I am creating new canvases for the Collaboration Methodology, and now as a team at Collabwith, we are creating new functionalities based on the feedback from the platform users, but also from our conversations we have with our customers or with our potential customers. My first job in the “innovation industry” was in a User Lab in an Innovation Center, so, I work on innovation from a user-centered perspective without exception. This means, that I am active listening and observing all the time. I take notes from any curious comment, I can see correlations of comments, and then we design new functionalities for the Collabwith digital platform or I create new canvases.
As a fun fact, I always wanted to be an inventor and create something new, but I realized the TV was already invented! I started telecom engineering and was looking for my way to contribute when I joined an elective class called “Science, Technology, and Society” with Prof. José B. Mariño and Prof. Climent Nadeu. I started reading books by Manuel Castells on the impact of technology on society. At that moment, I found my path… technological innovation! But still something was missing: society as part of the ecosystem, but then I learned about the user experience and human-machine interactions with Prof. Raquel Navarro-Prieto. That’s when all the pieces came together for user-centered innovation. I was working as an innovation manager for adidas when I saw how difficult it is to find professors for research collaboration and how difficult it is to contract with them. At the time, I dreamt of a global database with all academics in one place, and I made up my mind to become an entrepreneur. Four years later, I moved to the Netherlands and started an MBA to prepare myself to run a business. I was thinking deeply about how to streamline the whole supply chain of working with academics and startups. Then, I created Collabwith, an all-in-one place to find, make requests and contract academics and startups faster, digital and in a standardized way.
Jara Pascual, CEO Collabwith