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Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius

CEO and Principal of KaosPilots (Biocat knowledge partner)

He heads up one of the top schools in entrepreneurial training in the world: KaosPilots, in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city. He is an expert in leadership and management, entrepreneurship, business development, strategy and investment. He likes to get involved in creating new companies and see dreams come true. As the principal and CEO of KaosPilots, he faces challenges and works constantly to improve the overall performance of the school. He gives conferences around the world, most recently for TED and at Bizbarcelona. He is a music lover, and an Elvis fan in particular.

Organizations need creative leaders to boost innovation and the world needs entrepreneurs that can take this innovation to market, not only in order to create new opportunities for economic growth but also to generate change and contribute solutions to today’s large-scale social challenges.

Principal and CEO —and former student— of KaosPilots Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius visited Barcelona in June, invited by Biocat, to give a conference entitled Creative Leadership for entrepreneurial challenge at Bizbarcelona. Some 200 entrepreneurs attended his lecture.

Biocat is currently working with KaosPilots to design entrepreneurial training programs in the life sciences sector. These programs are part of the Moebio initiative, with which Biocat aims to meet entrepreneurial training needs at the interfaces of the biohealth, biotechnology and business arenas.

The KaosPilots school was created in the nineties, at a time when Denmark’s young-adult unemployment rate was very high. Is that right?

The idea behind the school was: “if you can't find a job, make your own.” Twenty years ago we didn’t use the word entrepreneurship because, in fact, the school was born out of an artistic and cultural environment, seeking a way to foster personal projects. But afterwards we saw that this approach could also be useful to start up a company and train a new type of entrepreneur.

What projects have come out of KaosPilots?

...A TV channel that uses cameras on mobile phones as their only source of images; a company that recycles and exports bicycles from Denmark to Tanzania –where the lack of road networks makes them an ideal and affordable form of transport for the population of this African country, which is one of the poorest in the world; an IT security company, which employs a large community of farming and fishing families that have lost their traditional way of life…

Do all of the projects at KaosPilots have this type of social component?

The philosophy our school is based on goes beyond win-win, which allows us to add profits for the partners of a business project and guarantee that any initiative benefits not just those promoting and managing it, but society as a whole. We must shift from a viewpoint that focuses on shareholders to one committed to the stakeholders (all those who are influenced by or influence a project, investors, clients, workers, competition…) and see the company not as a benefit-producing machine but as a social player that has responsibilities.

KaosPilot is Biocat’s knowledge partner in a training initiative that aims to bring creative leadership in entrepreneuring to the biohealth arena. What do you think the Moebio initiative can contribute to European entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs need to have a deep knowledge of their products and services. In this sense, Moebio will be a training program in which those with extensive knowledge in this field, making using their experience, will have the opportunity to create a business study; and those who are new to this arena, but with other types of experience, will be able to apply this to the biohealth arena. Therefore, thanks to this initiative, we will have new and innovative people, companies, products and services.

As a person who raises awareness of an innovative method and in these current times of crisis, which values do you think young European entrepreneurs need to work on, including those from the biohealth arena?

They need to create affordable start-ups, meaning they must find cheap ways to start up new companies. They have to look at the economic, social and ecological benefits as interdependent, not contradictory, concepts. It is also important for them to think in an interdisciplinary manner.

Entrepreneurs capable of leading this type of project must know how to see opportunities instead of problems. That doesn’t mean avoiding and not recognizing problems; it above all means being able to tackle them from a different perspective. Before you studied to be a teacher or an engineer and society offered you a job and promised you continuity in the future. But this social contract has been broken. The world has become unpredictable and turbulent, if you look at the people working at any company you realize that most of them hold degrees that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. We have to train people that can not only accept this changing environment but lead the change.

It isn’t easy for a good idea to end up as a profitable business project. In your opinion, based on your extensive experience training entrepreneurs, what three basic concepts are needed to achieve this?

The project must address a clear need; the entrepreneur should be passionate about the product, service or value they create, and have the right culture and people.

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