The European Commission: Swedish companies best at innovation

NEWS Published

Within the framework for the European Commission’s EU Industry Day February 22-23 in Brussels, Teknikföretagen and RISE was chosen to present how Swedish enterprise and academy cooperate around invention under the headline TESTBED Europe, accelerating innovation and strengthening eco-systems. The seminar proved to be one of the events most popular, and gathered experts from all over Europe. The participants all agreed that Sweden is the leading example of innovation, but why?

Åsa Fasth Berglund, Petra Sundström, Anna Olsson

Åsa Fasth Berglund, Petra Sundström, Anna Olshäll

Mostly it has to do with the fact that large and smaller companies work well together.

- The stakeholders understand that they can work out every issue on their own. Swedish companies are good at working together with others. Small companies can be very innovative and the large one have the experience of going international. At Chalmers they can learn from each other, said Åsa Fasth Berglund, associate professor at Chalmers University of Technology, and made the case for so called testbeds.

Testbeds can facilitate testing opportunities. Small companies can’t always carry the cost, but in a testbed they can take help from students when trying out different inventions. At Chalmers, SMEs, students, researchers and global companies do tests.

Anna Olshäll from Scania also stressed the need for testbeds, which she meant was crucial to the development of future products and services, and absolutely necessary to be able to invest in existing products.

- We need to know enough to be able to use the new technology, and dare to invest. Security and cybersecurity is central for us to be able to take that leap. We have to be able to trust that the information is believable and based on facts, or else it could damage everyone involved. It might also put future production at risk.

Anna Olshäll said that Scania is also open to cooperation with other companies and institutes, reaffirming the idea of cooperation as the model for the Swedish success story. Scania also cooperates with for example Chalmers and The Royal Institute of Technology.

- We need cooperation. We need constant development, within the company but also from external contacts via new partnerships. We therefore send employees to others to share knowledge and discuss challenges yet to be solved. There need to be a connection to reality from the beginning if we are to invest in new research. The cooperation between SMEs and large companies are of the essence.

Petra Sundström, from the Huskvarna Group, called digitalisation a  ”game changer” Companies are now a part of an eco-system, wheatear they want to or not. Competition is sharp, and getting sharper. And big actors like Amazon and Google are getting interested in the market niches Swedish companies are successful in.

- “Going digital” has unlimited opportunities. At Huskvarna we work close to our customers; they know what they want and we can find out what we can deliver. That means we show of a lot of different innovations, but when we do we run in to a lot of legal troubles. For example renting out products we might want to take the clients photo. But to have a camera in store we need permission. Another example is if we want to put Wi-Fi in the garden for our digital products, we might need permission for that too. The data protection act is another problematic factor. To be able to develop innovation creating value for the consumers we need exemptions for testbeds in the EU framework.

Petra Sundström also said that they need to be able to try their ideas without being stopped by stiffed necked regulation at the early stages, so they know what works and what needs development. The regulatory burden limits the possibility of creative solutions and smart innovations, often without good reason.

- Planning new products take time, we need an infrastructure. We need to know if there will be 5G in 5 years. We need to try new products in that reality in a testbed. Or rather, we need to think bigger, we need “test cities” for the future.

Only one in five European companies really uses the digital solutions in their companies, which means that four out of five does not. The potential is huge, a European Commission representative from DG Connect stated from the audience. Her first wish is that the EU will get both a national and a European infrastructure for testbeds.

It is important to state that there already is a “best practice” from the Nordic countries. The success factors are:

1. Access to a local “eco system”

2. The latest competence and tools

3. Creative people

4. Access to multiple actors. Connoisseurship is needed to solve future issues.

5. Financing.

6. Stakeholders open to cooperation.

7. A future connection between the national and European system.

The conclusion is therefore: There need to be flexible solutions for cooperation that suits different needs.

The EU Industry Day is an initiative to spread information about the Commission’s work with a strategic policy for enterprise. The conference is also a forum for different stakeholders to share their activities and thoughts to learn from each other and find new opportunities for cross boarder cooperation. The participants come from all sectors of enterprise, as well as finance, research, governments and other political or public offices.


NEWS Published:

Questions vital for the future of the industry

SEMINAR The Swedish Construction Federation and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani (RE) have organised a seminar "Building Europe - Future of work the construction” in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Anna Stellinger: Director of International and EU Affairs at Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

NEW LINE OF WORK Anna Stellinger today takes up the newly created position of Director of International and EU Affairs at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. She will also join the management team.
NEWS Published:

Review the Swedish Exemption Regarding Financial Transactions

TAX The VAT exemption regarding financial transactions is often used in Sweden as an argument to raise taxes in the financial sector. However, the exemption is harming the business climate as well as growth and development.
NEWS Published:

EU lose much of its attraction without the single market

EU A fully developed single market is central to fight climate change, promote sustainable development, to fully harness the potential of digitalisation and strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. Without the single market, the EU would lose much of its attraction.
NEWS Published:

Proposals for competitiveness

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in co-operation with its experts and membership organizations, has produced concrete proposals for measures to ensure that Europe will maintain its competitiveness in the global arena.
NEWS Published:

How EU-decisions affect Swedish companies

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has evaluated how the major decisions taken within the EU during the last mandate period affect Swedish companies. Our evaluation shows that 24 of the 57 legal acts we have chosen to look at have been positive for Swedish companies.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

EU 24 million small and mid-sized businesses are the greatest asset within EU. "Regulations must be dealt with to give SME-companies the opportunity to reach their full potential", says  Anna-Lena Bohm, chairman of BusinessEuropes SME:s and Entrepreneurship committee.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

BUSINESS There are 24 million small and mid-sized businesses, so called SME businesses, in Europe. These companies are a great – if not the greatest – asset when it comes to tackling todays economical and social challenges.
NEWS Published:

The Nordic countries need to block EU assault on tax veto

TAX For countries with a common currency and a limited common budget, it is particularly important to be able to pursue an active national fiscal policy when an external shock is encountered, writes Claes Hammarstedt.
NEWS Published:

Artificial intelligence on everybody’s mind

EVENT Artificial intelligence is on everybody’s mind in the EU capital. The European Commission recently launched its strategy for artificial intelligence, which focuses on promoting research and development of AI across European sectors.
NEWS Published:

AI made in EU

JOINT EFFORT The EU-commission has presented a joint effort with Member States to promote the development and use of artificial intelligence, AI, in Europe. To strengthen AI-technology and uptake in Europe is welcome. Swedish Enterprise believes that the conditions within Europe must be strengthened in order to successfully improve the global competitiveness of our companies. Here are our thoughts and proposals.
NEWS Published:

Swedish expert represents European industry in expert group on AI

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s digital expert Carolina Brånby is representing BusinessEurope in the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, AI HLEG. Their role is drafting ethical guidelines, and to create recommendations on how to strengthen the uptake of AI within the EU.
NEWS Published:

What impact of the Social Pillar on EU prosperity?

The EU’s approach to social policy is currently changing. In November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) was proclaimed as a visionary document setting up goals for an upward convergence in this area. In this year’s State of Union address, the president of the EU-commission Jean-Claude Juncker asserted that “It is time we turned the good intentions that we proclaimed at the Gothenburg Social Summit into law”. And, as a matter of fact, this process is well under way.
NEWS Published:

The entrepreneurial perspective is being neglected in the EU digitalisation process

The digital single market is a hot topic in the EU right now. Sweden has plenty of confidence when it comes to digitalisation, which does by its nature transcends all borders. The government’s overall goal is for Sweden to be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitalisation. But unfortunately the entrepreneurial perspective usually comes second when the European countries attempts to create a digital inner market.
NEWS Published:

American tariffs hurt Swedish and European industry

"President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is very unfortunate. It will hurt Swedish industry both directly and indirectly", says Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

The EU-commission wants to go big on AI

AI  The US and China are way ahead of Europe regarding development of autonomous computer systems. That disadvantage must change if European business and industry is to retain its competitive edge into the future, writes Olof Erixon, Senior legal counsel.
NEWS Published:

EU – the clearest voice for free trade

In the beginning of May, the Free Market Road Show (FMRS) took place in Stockholm. Jens Hedström, Head of Brussels Office, International Director, Swedish Enterprise, was one of the panellists together with PJ Anders Linder, CEO Axess Foundation, the British economist Richard Teather among others.
NEWS Published:

Sweden should oppose the digital tax proposals

TAXES The Swedish Government should oppose the controversial digital tax proposals from the EU Commission and work with the OECD to find an internationally acceptable solution.
NEWS Published:

Controversial EU tax proposal on digital services causes concern for small exporting economies

TAX The Director Generals for the Swedish, Danish and Finnish business federations have, in a joint letter addressed to the Finance Ministers of their respective countries, expressed their concern for the EU Commissions digital tax plan.
NEWS Published:

Protectionism only produces losers

The impact of globalisation has been positive for most of the world’s population. However, the economic integration of economies also accelerates change which puts increasing pressure on societies to be able to adapt to such change. We need to stand up for the clear advantages of globalisation, while making sure our societies have the flexibility necessary to adapt to rapid changes in technology and labor markets. These were the main conclusion at a seminar about free trade and globalization in times of protectionism, organized by The Society for Business and Politics in the European Parliament.