The town of Lund has an important role in terms of regional development as Lund University is one of its most valuable assets that has strong research base and a number of talented and motivated students. However, at the moment these resources are a bit underused. There is no special place in Lund where students could come, try out their ideas and turn them into reality. Or rather there wasn’t such place.

Lund University Open Innovation together with some initial help from FENA-Lund have launched Black Pearl project just about a year ago (see info on co-working space opportunity here). The big goal behind the project is to increase collaboration between students, businesses and local community. Since the Black Pearl has started its journey many students and young people in Lund are happy to jump aboard because this new interesting place has much to offer in terms of developing and fulfilling entrepreneurial ideas. To find out more about the project we had a talk with Mattias Kroon, one of the four people who navigates the Black Pearl.

Mattias, could you tell us about the Black Pearl?

I would like to see Black Pearl as a “sand box” for students’ creativity. We are trying to build a take-off platform where students could try things and then grow further on from here. It is a place to start projects, fail, learn from mistakes and improve. Ideas are born here and gather the strength to continue to Venture Lab and Ideon as small companies.

Black Pearl is something that was missing from the university since it provides a way for students to connect and work together putting their academic skills to a challenge. Black Pearl became very welcomed, especially at LTH and school of Social Sciences once students started understanding what they can actually do here, we hope more and more will find their way here! From my own experience you will get more out of sitting at a cool place like VentureLab if you already went through the “sand box” before, something I learned from year at VentureLab with my company Cook ‘n Smile.

What do you focus on at the Black Pearl?

There are three major areas that we try to focus on. One is entrepreneurship where we help entrepreneurs by creating a place for meeting and networking and supplying them with resources that include our own skills. Then we have student inspirational and innovation events where we try to nudge students into doing something on their own. The third focus is on hands-on makers lab for developing or testing prototypes, but that’s yet to come. We are working together with Lund municipality creating such lab in the city center at Stenkrossen.

So there is much more to look forward to in the future and we will initiate a lot of cool projects in the near future and anyone is welcome to join. Right now we are working on acquiring tools for the makers lab and things like 3D printers. We also want to introduce Cykel Köket from Malmö and other things that will inspire students and residents of Lund.

Where does the funding come from?

At the moment most of the money comes from LU Open Innovation, public funds and the events we run. In the future we want to go more against the events and also rent out space to cool companies. At the moment, however, we have sufficient funding and are trying to focus on spreading the word about us to increase the flow of people coming in. Once this happens we will add more events and activities. The goal is to make this place very energetic and inspiring where people could meet up and have productive discussions.

In terms of its goals and ambitions the Black Pearl Project is definitely something that was very much needed in Lund. One of the most important functions that it brings in is providing a platform for student initiatives outside of university where they can put their knowledge in practice and get in touch with the real world. Personally, I like Black Pearl because it has inspiring environment for trying out new things and ideas while having fun. Of course there is still much to be done but under effective leadership Black Pearl surely will help to bring some cool ideas into the world. Tack Mattias and good luck!