In collaboration with the Stockholm School of Economics and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Axel Johnson created an idea incubator in 2017, where students got to meet our Group companies and further develop ideas presented by the company’s employees.

When Axel Johnson first introduced Axlab, our internal innovation platform, the Group’s employees presented 847 ideas on how to improve our business. Some of the ideas were picked up by Axel Johnson and the companies, who could choose to further develop and implement them in their operations.

We also started a unique collaboration with SSE’s and KTH’s incubators where the students, along with the companies, were able to further develop some of the ideas presented within Axlab. The project started in January 2017 and lasted six months, during which the students got to work with a sponsor from the companies and received guidance from the respective incubators. Read more about the teams here below!

"Entrepreneurship is about finding problems - not making them up"

Jakob Östgren

Tell us about your idea!
At first, the idea concerned group purchases, how purchasing managers would coordinate purchases with each other. We first thought there should be good ways to coordinate with technology, for instance via an app. We contacted Daniel Svee, procurement manager at KICKS. He explained that they wanted something easier and that they wanted an overview of different packages. We discovered that what they really needed was a website where everyone could see and compare different packages and order at the best price. It was something completely different from where we started.


Johan Collin

Tell us about your team!
We got to know each other the first day at SSE. Today, Jakob is on his last year of Bachelor and Johan has just finished his studies. None of us had engaged in entrepreneurship before but both had been interested, so when SSE Business Lab together with KTH’s incubator and Axel Johnson presented this opportunity, we both knew it was the right thing for us.

What has been the most fun during the project?
The most fun was that we saw that people were interested in our idea. It’s also a perfect opportunity to tackle a real problem, not just an imaginary problem which is often the case in the academic world.

In what way has Axel Johnson’s incubator helped you?
Focus has been on identifying the problem first – not the company. That way, we’ve really got an understanding that entrepreneurship is about finding problems – not making them up. We have also learned how to pitch and sell an idea. There were no barriers in the project, we immediately got to talk to the purchasing managers and got an understanding of their problems. It has been very instructive.

What advice would you have given to yourselves a year ago?
Perhaps to think more about the problems. It means being alert and question things. There are opportunities everywhere. This way, you might find something that could be a business idea. At first, we were very nervous and thought you need to do things a certain way, but now we know there are several ways.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?
We both hope that we are working on a project in which we participated in the early start-up phase, a project we are passionate about. We really want to continue with entrepreneurship, the project has showed that it is not as difficult as we thought.

”Our idea maximizes return and contributes to a sustainable circular economy”


Sofie Falck

Tell us about your idea!
Axel Johnson International’s (AxInter’s) components today are discarded for reasons other than their end-of-life. Our business concept – “AxInterlife” – would enable AxInter to extend the life of the industrial components sold by the Group, thus maximizing returns and contributing to a sustainable circular economy.

AxInterlife would offer a digital platform for refurbished, high-quality industrial components. The company would repurchase equipment in need of repair and after the repair, sell the equipment to a third party. The preliminary study showed that the concept is feasible in the area of Service & Repair. The next step is to investigate most of AxInter’s activities and to clarify the key issues.


Tell us about your team!
We are three students who today study our final year at the Business and Economics graduate program at the Stockholm School of Economics. We all have a strong interest in entrepreneurship and during our study at SSE, we have engaged in the Entrepreneurship Association.

Jakob Kalbe

What has been the most fun during the project?
The most fun was to get such a great trust and support from Axel Johnson. Already at the start-up meeting, Mia Brunell Livfors was present and presented the project. We also received enormous support from Hans Glemstedt, Head of M&A and Strategy at Axel Johnson International. He showed dedication and helped refer to relevant people. It has been exciting and hugely instructive to have an independent consultancy assignment for a large group and to present the work for both AxInter’s CEO, parts of their management, their sustainability manager and other managers in the group.

In what way has Axel Johnson’s incubator helped you?
The program gave us a springboard to discuss ideas and get in touch with relevant people. The initiative has given us new knowledge in AxInter’s business and business development, many new valuable contacts and invaluable experiences.

Martin Wallin

Vhere do you see yourselves in five years?
We have completed our studies, gained additional work experience and are ready to realize the dream of starting our own businesses.

What advice would you have given yourselves five years ago??
We had probably all needed to be reminded to believe in ourselves and to dare ask for help from people around us.

”The most fun was the nice treatment!"

Julia Liu, Sara Vitmosse, Patrik William-Olsson, Emelie Lindström, Adam Engström

Tell us about your ideas!
We had two different ideas that were captured by different parts of the Axel Johnson Group. The first idea, captured by KICKS Marketing Manager Gina Azaric, was quite simple and concerned a concept for a subscription solution.

The second idea, which was about phasing out different types of plastics, was noted by Axfood’s sustainability manager, Åsa Domeij. We saw great potential in doing such a project within Axel Johnson, as it can be amplified within the Group. A family-owned company like Axel Johnson also has the ability to work longer-term than a listed company.

Tell us about your team!
We are five KTH engineers studying four different programs at KTH. Julia is in her third year of the Industrial Economics program, Sara studies her fifth year on Design and Product Production, Patrik is in his fifth year at Material design and Emelie and Adam are both in their fifth year of the Energy and Environmental Program. We have accumulated so much engineering knowledge that can ever be achieved in a team! Together we form the team “Schedule craschers” where there is always someone who is busy in class.

What has been the most funt during the project?
We all agreed that the most fun was the nice treatment, not only by Axel Johnson but also by the companies in the Group. During the project we have tested and learned a lot, which is far from our usual environment at KTH. We visited Åhléns’ warehouse in Jordbro where Åhléns’ Logistics Manager Svante Lindgren gave us a very interesting and eye-opening tour around the warehouse and we have discussed marketing and sustainability issues with Axfood’s Marketing Manager Ulf Renée.

In what way has Axel Johnson’s incubator helped you?
First of all, we have learned a lot, we have discussed various ideas with different parts of Axel Johnson and learned more about companies we had never been in contact with before. During the project we have also had a chance to build a network with many interesting people within Axel Johnson.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Difficult question! After many confused discussions, we have no idea, but a interest areas range from management consulting to start-ups, steel industry and sustainability consulting.

What advice would you have given yourselves five years ago?
To dare! Engaging and doing things outside of school is something that is very fun and rewarding. Take the opportunity while studying!