Sweden has a long tradition of nurturing industry and innovation, as the following famous Swedish inventions show:
- Three-point seat belt
- Ball bearing
- Tetra Pak
- VoIP phone
- Solar-powered water purification
And the world is taking notice – in key international innovation indexes, such as the Global Innovation Index, the European Innovation Scoreboard and the Bloomberg Innovation Index, Sweden consistently ranks in the top three.
So, what exactly is going on up north? Of course, there is no simple answer. Reasons for this include a historic tradition of inventors, a commitment to gender equality and a strong belief in the individual. Swedish society is also very open to innovation and change. Swedish people tend to have excellent English skills and have built a reputation as early adopters. And let’s not forget sustainability. Swedish industry, relying heavily on natural resources, was quick to innovate and develop sustainable solutions.
Innovation is closely linked to research and development. Sweden is one of Europe’s top three spenders in this area, investing 3.26 per cent of GDP in R&D in 2016. Compared to the EU-wide target of 3 per cent GDP investment, Sweden is way ahead.
In 2016, Sweden launched an Innovation Partnership Programmes (IPP) initiative to help find innovative and commercially viable solutions for the complex demands of today’s globalized world. Today, these programs constitute an important pillar of Swedish innovation policy.