About Us – Culture & External Relations, Cultural Strategy

Research, analysis, mapping, strategy, implementation

ifa laboratory proposes perspectives on culture in the context of foreign and external relations, as well as on artists, skills and needs in the innovation economy. The name ifa laboratory stems from the collaboration with ifa gallery . ifa comes from Chinese 艺 () and 法 (), meaning methods of art.

Johanna Suo, director

Johanna Suo Kouzmine-Karavaïeff (Suo) focuses on Cultural strategy, Culture in external relations and cooperation, transfer of skills & perspectives from creative sectors to business sectors, creative economy development and innovation. She has twenty years of experience from culture and creative sectors.

Johanna is a Marshall Memorial Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States – a flagship leadership development program that introduces a new generation of European leaders to the United States, and vice versa. It is a life-long learning programme for facilitating knowledge & network development for transatlantic engagement.  Her areas of focus as part of this include art as crime prevention, youth and culture as economic drivers, cultural diplomacy and art and culture in international relations.

She has been a speaker at various conferences in the US, in Japan & Europe and presented sessions at the 2017 & 2018 European Business Summit on culture as strategy and on and the importance of creativity at the heart of business success.

Since autumn 2019 she has contributed to the European Commission, DG Grow as an expert on how creative industries can help other industry and sectors innovate.

Johanna is a member of the think-tank European Cultural Parliament and has coordinated the European Cultural Parliament Youth Network and she was previously Development Director for the culture and media agency Cumediae.

Her recent work included a cultural diplomacy project with MFA Colombia, 2019/2020 she wrote a master thesis on cultural diplomacy and the need for a paradigm shift at Université Lyon Lumière 2. In 2020 she co-founded Artisans of Innovation in the UK, where she is Principal Consultant in Culture and Creative. She currently does research on creative professionals impact on organisational change, and a pilot project on strategic placement of creative professionals in companies to stimulate diversified thinking and human-driven innovation. Johanna has created corporate and education programmes for the private art collection Galila’s Passion Obsession Collection in Brussels.

Thank you to investors and ifa laboratory founding partners Alexis Kouzmine –Karavaïeff , David Laurier and Fredrik Runnquist. 

Alexis graduated from business school and studied art history in Ecole du Louvre, thereafter he established himself in Shanghai in 2003 where he worked for a British corporation. He then decided to dedicate his time to his passion by co-founding ifa gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Shanghai. Located in an old textile factory building in M50, the famed art district of Shanghai, and later on in an elegant British house in Jing’An district, ifa gallery became an important place by showcasing some emerging and established artists in the Chinese art scene.
In the fall 2013, Alexis decided to move ifa gallery premises to the heart and capital of Europe, Brussels. Located in the old central district of Marolles, the gallery offers a dynamic programme with its main artists from China and new artists from the region. The gallery  exhibits also regularly in art fairs.

David is currently Chief Executive of Innovest Capital & Real Estate Group. Earlier he was managing director of a/o AppliTek with offices in the US, the Middle East and Asia. AppliTek develops, manufactures, integrates and installs on-line monitoring & analysis devices for use in environmental, industrial & homeland security applications. David is also specialised in economic diplomacy. He is an executive member of the Commission International Relations of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (VBO-FEB), where he previously participated in a work group to define the fundaments of economic diplomacy for ambassadors of Belgium abroad. Moreover David is also a visiting professor at the University of Leuven & at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico where he has given courses on entrepreneurship and embedded sustainability. David holds a Masters of Commerical Sciences and a Master of Business & Managerial Economics from Leuven University.

Fredrik is a business angel and art-collector commuting between Stockholm and London. Fredrik is passionate about start-ups and collects Swedish modern art.