Innovating Towards Peace

Joining Pascal Finette for Technoport 2015’s Peace, Love & Entrepreneurship session is Anne Kjær Riechert, who works at the fascinating crossroads of innovation and global peace.
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A graduate from the prestigious social innovation and change management school KaosPilot in Denmark, she has since worked as creative lead and corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant for the brand strategy company Stoic, launched her own humanitarian project, Kids Have a Dream, and studied Peace Studies in Japan on a prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship.

She moved to Berlin where she worked as the Manager of Public Affairs for Coca-Cola, and setup a Peace Innovation Lab in collaboration with Stanford University.

The Peace Innovation Lab network provides design frameworks, principles and methodologies for Persuasive Technology interventions to measurably increase positive engagement, at scale. They aim to improve social security, provide academic knowledge, facilitate business development, build personal capacity, and build strong local communities.

She was kind enough to sit down with Technoport for a Q&A ahead of what is sure to be an inspiring talk at Technoport 2015.

How did you connect with the Peace Innovation Lab?

The Peace Innovation Lab was founded at Stanford University in 2010. I met them when I was doing research for OpenIDEO in Palo Alto. They were mixing technology, innovation & peace studies, an unusual triangle that I found exciting. Through my research spending a lot of time in the peacekeeping world there were very fluffy concepts, but I wanted hard facts to see if the interventions we made were working. Technology is such an enabler, it allows you to take effective real-time measurements and helps you scale up if what you are doing is working.

When I graduated, I could choose between continuing my research at Stanford, or collaborating in a different way. They encouraged me to start a Peace Lab in Berlin and basically gave me a wildcard to build up a presence.

What does the Berlin branch do?

When I arrived in Berlin the cross-sector networking was missing. There were meetups of course, but they were based on pizza and beer, and what happens happens. I don’t believe in that being the only way.

Now in Berlin, we are a grass-roots movement with 670 members from all sectors including government, academia, for-profit and non profit. Once a month we run a collaborative workshop for two hours, at which experts talk about a technology or social innovation topic. This is followed by a 90-minute brainstorming session, where we aim to come up with new concepts and/or discuss implications. Afterwards we always go out for a drink together, an informal but important part of the community.

Participating in a full 2-hour program inspires people and eases the collaboration process. It makes it easier to network with people later, because you know who they are, what they are interested in, and how to navigate the system better.

Do you have any advice for developing an entrepreneurial mindset?

The mindset for a social entrepreneur is a special kind of mindset. Triple bottom line thinking is crucial. Unfortunately a lot of time social entrepreneurs are so keen to make an impact that we forget the financial viability of what we are doing. The biggest challenge faced by social entrepreneurs is getting this balance right.

What can we look forward to at Technoport 2015?

I’m going to give my personal story to encourage the entrepreneurial mindset in people and to say just go for it.

I will describe how we developed the Peace Innovation Lab in Berlin, together with how and why it is radically different from the one at Stanford. We spent a long time working with Stanford on business models and spreadsheets before we realised we hadn’t built anything. We put away the computers and started building, sourced feedback and grew.

Meet Anne in Trondheim

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.


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