Innovation the Swedish Way

Page 1

the Swedish Way

By Eva Krutmeijer


Foreword: My story of innovation


Introduction: What’s the secret, Sweden?


1 3

Sustainability: Innovations for a better future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Solvatten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 myFC PowerTrekk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Plantagon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Microalgae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Communication: Improving everyday life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Skype . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iZettle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bambuser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Swedish Tax Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

18 20 22 24 26

Society: Because we care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tobii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Peepoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Road safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Giraff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

28 30 32 34 36

Health: Life-saving solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Symbicort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LUCAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Human Protein Atlas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Heyrobics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

38 40 42 44 46


My story of innovation ANY COUNTRY THAT WANTS to foster innovation also needs

to encourage some disobedience from its citizens. Innovation is about questioning what has been said and done, and knowing that it is safe to take the risk to explore new territory. I was fortunate to grow up in Sweden, a land of vast forests that has not been at war for almost 200 years and where the corporal punishment of children is forbidden by law. The small town where my family lived was so safe and peaceful that I cannot even recall ever locking the door to our house. From an early age, my passion was to climb trees—big trees with strong, solid branches that stretched to the sky and fueled my imagination of faraway places, beyond our garden and neighborhood. I was blessed with parents who gave me the freedom to be me. Instead of trying to get me down from my tree, afraid that I would fall, they would ask me if I had a great view up there. And they gave me and my friends the tools we needed to build our own fortresses up in the clouds. Pippi Longstocking was my fictional hero and role model. I could not carry a horse, like Pippi, but thanks to the tree climbing I beat most boys my age at arm wrestling. And never once did I feel I had less power or freedom than my two brothers. Though my family could not afford a new Volvo and I inherited jeans and sneakers from my older siblings, we all benefited from good, publicly funded schooling. From elementary school onwards, we were encouraged to think independently and be inquisitive. We read about other countries and cultures and learned English, connecting ourselves to the world. Our English further improved while watching Hollywood movies during the weekends; there was no profit in dubbing Clint Eastwood into Swedish.

In my last year at college, studying industrial product design, a brilliant young electronic engineer named Jakob gave me a working prototype of one of my own innovative designs. Other guys had given me roses to show their affection; Jakob gave me something that made me really happy, and I knew this was the man I wanted to work with. I have experienced the magic of teamwork, working with other women and men possessing the combined skills necessary for transforming new ideas into global products. With the internet, the concept of co-creation has reached new dimensions. Just as the GSM standard for mobile communication—now vital to connecting cell phones from all around the world—was initiated from Sweden and developed as a joint European project, my team at Yubico is currently working with developers from all continents on new secure online identity standards. When one of my three children asked me what my work is actually all about, passionately attached to my computer, I smiled and answered: “My friends and I have an exciting mission. We are building fortresses up in the clouds, fighting the bad guys.”

Stina Ehrensvärd, CEO and founder of Yubico, is an IT entrepreneur and innovator with a track record of bringing technological innovations to a global market. Yubico provides solutions for online identity protection.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 1

2013-12-03 09.00

An innovator in the making.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 2

2013-12-03 09.00


What’s the secret, Sweden? Some of the world’s most successful innovators are from Sweden. Women and men who change people’s lives, by overcoming challenges and breaking new ground. Before we meet some of them and have a look at their innovations, let’s discuss the question: Why Sweden—a country of less than 10 million inhabitants? SWEDEN IS AN INNOVATION LEADER on its own merits. The country invests heavily in research, encourages critical thinking from an early age and is open to international influences. Sweden also has a long tradition of creative and tenacious scientists, business leaders and entrepreneurs who are keen to change the world. Today’s innovators stand on the shoulders of giants. Entrepreneurs and innovators such as Alfred Nobel, Lars Magnus Ericsson and Gustaf Dalén paved the way for the powerful international companies* that have been so crucial both to Sweden’s economic development and to the Swedes’ self-belief. Similarly, some of today’s innovators, such as Niklas Zennström and Petra Wadström, are prime role models for the next generation. Alfred Nobel’s will In his last will and testament, Swedish innovator, entrepreneur and industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833–96) decided that the bulk of his fortune—accumulated through the registration of 355 patents and the establishment of 90 factories in 20 countries—be set aside for the Nobel Prizes, annual awards honoring “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” An idea that has since overshadowed his own invention of dynamite in the 1860s.

To the benefit of mankind. Petra Wadström and Alfred Nobel.

*Alfred Nobel founded the forerunner to AkzoNobel, among others. L M Ericsson and Gustaf Dalén founded Ericsson and AGA, respectively. (See also their innovations in the timeline on the inside cover.)


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 3

2013-12-03 09.00

NEW TIMES, NEW INNOVATIONS What is innovation? By innovation we mean knowledge and know-how that are translated into new assets and values. The definition covers both technical and non-technical innovations, which means everything from product and process innovations to innovations in areas such as business models, marketing, and leadership, as well as social innovations.

We live in a world in which ecology and economy are part of the same system. The greatest social challenges—such as fighting poverty, providing access to clean water and green energy, overcoming the shortage of vital natural resources and stopping environmental destruction—are all interlinked. And what happens in the future depends on how we approach these problems today. On how innovative we are. As economic prosperity has grown, along with an awareness of the global challenges facing society, many innovations have become focused on delivering holistic, integrated solutions. While a revolutionary technological innovation of former times like the refrigerator solved an important problem, it also created a new one: the depletion of the ozone layer through the use of freons. Today, innovators base their work on life-cycle analyses, they choose materials and production processes carefully, and they let design and recycling be an integral part of the value chain. This is because it is now clear that an innovation, whether a product or a service, can only be successful if it solves several problems simultaneously. Without giving rise to new ones.

SUCCESS FACTORS Sweden rankings*


Innovation Capacity Index 2011 (European Business School)


Global Innovation Index 2012 (INSEAD)


Innovation Union Scoreboard 2011 (EU Commission)


Global Creativity Index 2011 (Martin Prosperity Institute)





*Sweden’s position in relation to the number of countries ranked.

A number of international indexes have been developed in a bid to measure the ability of countries to create environments that encourage innovation. According to them, Sweden is one of the most creative places on the map (see ranking left). Also, when the innovation and technology magazine Red Herring listed the most innovative and promising companies in the world in 2012, eight out of 100 were Swedish. No small feat for a small nation. So what’s the secret of Sweden’s success? A number of factors have helped make the country’s capacity for innovation so strong:

Education Sweden introduced elementary schooling for all as early as 1842, and the first university was founded back in 1477 in Uppsala, 15 years before Columbus set sail for America. Along with state-subsidized college training for Swedes and citizens of other EU countries (non-EU citizens pay fees), this has helped ensure high educational standards in the country, among women as well as men. Besides being distinctly antiauthoritarian, Swedish schools encourage creativity. Also, the arts have long been used to motivate and inspire children and young people and to provide a breeding ground for innovation.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 4

2013-12-03 09.00

The Right of Public Access Over half of Sweden is forested. The Right of Public Access means that everyone has free access to not only the Swedish woods, but also fields, mountains and waters, regardless of who owns the land. On condition, however, that you “don’t disturb— don’t destroy,” as the slogan goes. This unique right has enabled Swedes to learn early in life what nature has to offer and to make good use of it.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 5

2013-12-03 09.00

Flashes of genius


Snilleblixtarna—which means flashes of genius—is an organization that targets children aged six to ten. It seeks to awaken their interest in science, technology and entrepreneurship by encouraging their creativity and their will to learn. Inventor and entrepreneur Anders Rosén came up with the idea and began to test it together with teachers at the children’s own schools in the early 1990s. Snilleblixtarna is run as a non-profit association and collaborates with schools around the country.

Successful companies in the forestry, steel, automotive and engineering industries have driven the country’s economic development. Another major contributor is the pharmaceutical industry. In 2012, the volume of Sweden’s exports per capita was greater than that of China and the United States combined.

Trade With less than 0.14 percent of the global population, Sweden is highly dependent on the outside world. Historically, it is a free-trade nation in which politics and laws have encouraged openness to international influence. Exports and imports are vital to Sweden’s welfare, and international skills are welcome.

Economy and politics Sweden has long had robust government finances in comparison with many other European states and is one of the world’s largest investors in research and development (R&D) relative to GDP (see figure below). There is unanimous agreement among political parties that such investment is vital. In the fall of 2012, the government presented an innovation strategy that emphasized the importance of innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship for ensuring sustainable prosperity in the years to come. Gross expenditure on R&D in 37 countries (% of GDP)

Helen, 11 years old, invented a multifunctional straw—for two kinds of soda, or if you want to share.






Mex Chl Svk Grc Pol Tur Zaf Hun Nzl Rus Ita Esp Est Cze Prt Lux Chn Nor Irl Can Gbr Nld Svn Bel Aus Fra Isl Aut Deu Usa Che Dnk Jpn Kor Swe Fin Isr

Source: OECD Factbook 2011–2012: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics

Democracy Swedes are strong believers in cooperation, gender equality and diversity. This may have to do with the fact that the country is one of the oldest and most peaceful democracies in the world. Here, a constitutional monarchy blends with a stable parliamentary system, freedom of expression is laid down in the Constitution, and the principle of public access to official documents is designed to ensure that both politicians and officials work openly vis-à-vis the citizens they represent; the general public and the media are entitled to request access to government documents and papers, to examine correspondence and so forth.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 6

2013-12-03 09.00

Facebook’s enormous new data center in Luleå in the north of Sweden will consist of three buildings of 300,000 ft2 (28,000 m2) each. The location offers the advantages of natural cooling and renewable hydropower.

Communications Since Sweden is a geographically large country with a scattered population, infrastructure and communications have always been crucial to development. Early action to promote digitalization has meant that Sweden is now one of the most connected countries in the world with one of the highest rates of computer, internet and mobile penetration. As a result, the country is frequently used as a test market for new services and technology.

DEVELOPMENT THROUGH DIALOGUE Sweden benefits from having many basic components already in place, such as economic stability, safety and security, freedom of expression and openness. In environments seething with curiosity, creativity and experimentation, people get the chance to grow, develop their ideas, probe and test. And to meet others who may be pursuing different approaches. Genuine dialogue thus becomes a key prerequisite for an innovative social climate. Swedes take this seriously, as can be seen from the way they organize everything from big companies to clusters of small businesses and other creative environments around their universities and colleges. It also distinguishes the norms and cultures evident in public services and political organizations. Hierarchies are few, meetings are many and openness is the priority. Sweden is a land of innovation to be reckoned with, and an important arena for international cooperation. Co-creation makes it easier to meet the global challenges we share. This publication presents a number of innovators and entrepreneurs who have all taken things into their own hands. They have dared to try their wings and they have succeeded. What they seem to share is a thirst for change, a willingness to work hard, a feel for what people want—and the enjoyment of making a difference. It is when enterprising entrepreneurs such as these are able to act in a stimulating atmosphere that the capacity for innovation grows.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 7

2013-12-03 09.00

Sustain Sweden

Map of global cleantech innovation ranking (on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score) Source: Cleantech Group Analysis / The Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2012

> 3.3 2.2 – 3.3 < 2.2 No data


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 8

2013-12-03 09.00

ability Innovations for a better future

Sweden excels at environmental technology and sustainable solutions, as international rankings show. Many Swedish innovations have become highly successful exports. Often, they address complex global challenges such as poverty alleviation and climate change. SWEDEN, ALONG WITH OTHER Nordic countries, ranks high in reports such as the Global Cleantech Innovation Index (see map left). And traditional, large-scale Swedish industries such as forestry, mining and engineering are among the front runners in the development and export of green technology solutions. Meanwhile, small businesses are constantly emerging, often in clusters around the country’s many universities, bringing new ideas about how we can meet our needs in a more sustainable and much smarter way than before. So what makes Sweden such a powerful force in the environmental field? The country’s strong roots in engineering and industrial technology, combined with a broad environmental awareness among the general public, are no doubt part of the explanation. The Swedes’ love of nature and their natural lifestyle are an additional factor. Also, as early as preschool, children are taught to sort waste and to think about their responsibilities as human beings. Schoolchildren are strongly encouraged to find out how things work, to think critically, to experiment and to work in groups. Many become small green innovators before they even leave the playground—which is not a bad a place to start.

GOOD CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER. During the period 2011–2014, the Swedish Government is investing extra resources in the environmental technology sector. Creating conditions that enable businesses—new or old, domestic or international—to develop and grow is an important part of this strategy; linking together research, innovation and commercialization is another. Combining innovation and entrepreneurship with an environmental and sustainable approach is a recipe for future success. Add a social dimension and you have a surefire winner. Many are already well on the way. Take Solvatten (pages 10–11), for instance. Purifying water with sunshine not only saves forests but also solves social problems. Families using Solvatten don’t have to collect wood, which means they have more time to spare, especially women and children. They can focus on more important things, like going to school. In the Kenyan province that first began using Solvatten, school attendance has increased by 85 percent. Socioecology in practice. Poverty alleviation from the bottom up.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 9

2013-12-03 09.00


Clean water, richer lives EVERY YEAR, 1.5 MILLION children around the world die of diarrhea-related diseases before the age of five. Ninety percent of these children could be saved if only their families had access to clean water. But that’s no small task. Like many before her, Petra Wadström realized this when traveling around and meeting people in Indonesia and other countries. But unlike most others, she decided to see if she could do something about it. She developed Solvatten, a hi-tech container than can kill bacteria, viruses and parasites in 11 to 44 liters of water a day in just a few hours, making it drinkable. Just by using sunshine. And because the sun replaces open fires, the product helps reduce both deforestation and carbon emissions. Solvatten is also the name of the company Petra Wadström has built up. Her son, David Wadström, is head of marketing and communications and can testify to the fact that overcoming all the setbacks that confront an innovator in social entrepreneurship calls for extraordinary qualities in a person. “Mom was born with a strong willpower,” he says. “That’s probably our most important success factor.” After years of research and testing, Solvatten was established in 2006. The company has developed a business model that involves both financiers and sponsors but where those who are interested in the product must specify why they need it. Often, several families join together to buy Solvatten containers, and in most cases it is the women who are the driving force. At the end of 2012 some 13,500 units had been distributed, mainly in East Africa. David Wadström emphasizes that the product is hi-tech. “We invest very heavily in high quality,” he says. “The product must be durable, but its design is at least as important. In many homes, the container is almost like part of the family.” Tackling the water purification problem at family level has had clear social advantages: women and children have been spared several hours of work a day. Previously they fetched fuel to boil water over open fires. Comparisons can be drawn with the introduction of household appliances in the West. Women save time, children can do their homework instead of household chores—the results quickly become apparent at social level. Small-scale becomes largescale. David Wadström offers a striking example: “In those parts of Kenya’s Western Province in which Solvatten is widely used, school attendance has already increased by 85 percent.”

How it works The Solvatten container uses heat, UV light and a built-in filter to clean contaminated water. After two to six hours in the sun, an indicator shows that the water is safe to drink.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 10

2013-12-03 09.00

Playtime between classes. Higher school attendance is one of the more unexpected results of the introduction of Solvatten. The children are healthier and no longer have to spend hours every day collecting wood. Imagine what this means for a country’s development and economic growth in the long term.

Water business

Petra Wadström.

Solvatten AB—quick facts Business: Water purification container Founded: 2006 Innovator and CEO: Petra Wadström Number of users: About 75,000 (2012)

In Kawempe outside Kampala, Uganda, women are benefiting from Solvatten. Mastula runs a small restaurant. She has found a smart way of marketing her business: for every meal she serves, she also serves a cup of safe water from Solvatten. Her customers trust her when she explains about Solvatten. As a result of this initiative, Mastula’s trade has grown from 50 to 100 meals per day. Katja runs a small kiosk where you can buy drinks and snacks. She is now selling safe water from Solvatten in small bags for around 5 cents (EUR). She usually sells 40 per day. Katja also sells juice made with safe water, which has boosted trade. Previously, she had to boil the water beforehand. Source:


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 11

2013-12-03 09.00

If the battery for your GPS is running low when you’re in the middle of a blizzard, far from the power grid, a PowerTrekk fuel cell charger can provide instant electricity.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 12

2013-12-03 09.00


Cell phone charger on the go THE WORLD’S FIRST portable fuel cell powered by water fits in your pocket. Whether

you’re wandering through Swedish woods or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, it gives you access to electricity—a matter of freedom and convenience, but also of safety. Besides allowing you to charge your cell phone wherever and whenever you like, the PowerTrekk fuel cell can also help mitigate the effects of a prolonged power cut. But perhaps most importantly, this environmentally friendly device addresses the problem that about 1.4 billion people in the world still lack electrical power. The Swedish company myFC has found a way of producing power using ordinary water and a special fuel pack. Founder and innovator Anders Lundblad places a fuel pack in the charger and pours a few drops of water over it. A green lamp lights up immediately. He describes what makes their fuel cell unique: “We’ve managed to make a device that produces a constant flow of hydrogen gas, which is turned into electricity via the fuel cell. Our solution contains both a battery and a fuel cell. The battery stores any surplus that you acquire but also acts as a source of energy in its own right, allowing you to charge a cell phone, a GPS device or the like without delay. This gives you instant access to electricity whenever you need it.” Scientists have actually known about fuel cells since 1842, but only now has it become possible to construct something that is both technically robust and easy to use. The inbox at myFC has been flooded with enquiries from outdoor enthusiasts and businesses alike, both in countries where the company is already established and in developing countries. So what is the secret of the company’s success? Besides the fact that it has managed to solve a lot of complicated technical problems, Anders Lundblad emphasizes the importance both of having faith in one’s ideas and of accepting one’s limitations. “No-one is good at everything,” he says. “As a researcher, I know a great deal about the actual chemistry, but very little about running a company and communicating with investors. Our CEO, Björn Westerholm, and I complement one another perfectly in that respect.” Björn Westerholm points out that it is essential to have a business model based on user needs. “You can develop all kinds of gadgets that are technically brilliant but if you don’t understand what the customer really wants and needs—well, you won’t be able to sell it.” Although the market is global, Björn Westerholm sees certain advantages in myFC being a Swedish company, especially in the initial stages. “Taxes may be quite high in Sweden,” he says, “but we have a social security system that I think gives people the courage to take their ideas to market. Failure is always tough, of course, but here it’s not a matter of life and death.”

Anders Lundblad and Björn Westerholm.

myFC—quick facts Business: Portable fuel cell Founded: 2005 Founder and CTO: Anders Lundblad CEO: Björn Westerholm Headquarters: Stockholm

How it works The user places a special fuel pack in the charger and adds a few drops of water. The water and the fuel pack interact and create hydrogen gas that is led up to the fuel cell. From the hydrogen, the cell produces electricity that can either be stored in the internal battery or be used directly to charge a cell phone, for instance, via a USB cable.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 13

2013-12-03 09.00


Clever greenhouses for urban farming Hans Hassle.

Plantagon—quick facts Business: Urban greenhouses Founded: 2008 Innovator: Åke Olsson Founder and CEO: Hans Hassle Partners: Sweco and SAAB, among others

A part of SymbioCity Plantagon’s vertical greenhouse idea is promoted by SymbioCity. This is a network of Swedish companies and organizations aiming for holistic and sustainable urban development. SymbioCity helps companies identify synergies between urban functions and engage all the necessary players—both public and private. Plantagon’s approach to urban agriculture reduces both transport costs and emissions and fits well with the holistic concept. SymbioCity is administrated by the Swedish Trade Council.

“WE MUST FIND new forms of food production,” says Hans Hassle. He is the CEO of Plantagon, a company that develops and builds greenhouses. Not the normal horizontal way, but vertically. And not in the country, but in the middle of town. “Feeding a growing population is a challenge that we take seriously. That’s why we’re here,” Hans Hassle says, thereby tossing his company smack into the middle of one of the world’s hottest political issues. Today, urban dwellers make up over half of the global population. And the already crowded cities of Asia and Africa in particular are growing into megacities, with all this entails. Farms and arable land, meanwhile, are moving further and further away from these fast expanding cities, and from us as consumers. Yet many of us still want to step into the nearest store and buy good and cheap vegetables, preferably grown locally and organically as well. One solution is to grow more food in urban environments. The question is how. Where’s the land? Åke Olsson is an ecological farmer who was unable to abandon the science fictioninspired idea of giant urban greenhouses. Already 20 years ago he came up with the idea that vegetables could be grown in tower blocks if only all the plants could be provided with light. No sooner said than done. Åke Olsson’s field experiments continued until 2007. An ingenious design enables the plants to grow while slowly being transported down through the glasshouse on a spiral-shaped rail. When they reach the bottom, they are ready for harvesting. As yet, it is unclear how we consumers will receive these city-grown vegetables, and Hans Hassle makes no secret of the fact that the whole thing is a gigantic experiment. “To be honest, I think we all prefer vegetables that have grown naturally outdoors under the sun,” he says, “even though our greenhouse plants will be of equally high quality. Convincing people will be our greatest challenge.” And Hans Hassle admits that he’s as much an idealist as an entrepreneur. “We’re doing this because we and our owners believe it’s necessary. Perhaps not now, but in the near future.”


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 14

2013-12-03 09.00

Imagine vegetables being grown and harvested in the middle of your city. This is what a Plantagon greenhouse, with its innovative way of capturing sunlight, could look like.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 15

2013-12-03 09.00


Towards future biofuels NEW IDEAS OFTEN give rise to new problems—not least in the environmental field. Future innovations must be able to solve yesterday’s problems without creating new ones tomorrow. Imagine, for instance, if your sewage could be turned into fuel for your car. Microalgae have the potential to make that happen. Francesco Gentili is a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå in northern Sweden. He has discovered that microalgae have the potential to solve a number of environmental problems simultaneously. “The algae thrive on the nutrients in our wastewater and at the same time absorb carbon dioxide from industrial flue gases,” he says. “This means we solve the problems of several of our partners concurrently, and that in turn means they are deeply committed to the work and take an active part in it.” Umeå has a pilot plant for the production of biomass using carbon dioxide (CO2) from the local power plant’s flue gases, wastewater from the city’s sewage treatment plant—and sunlight. The algae bind phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater and have a phenomenal ability to consume CO2 rapidly, tolerating far higher doses than other green plants. The resultant biomass can be used to produce biofuel, fertilizer or animal feed. Such production is still some time ahead, but Francesco Gentili is optimistic. “We’ve shown that this works in our northern climate,” he says. “In warmer countries, it’s even more advantageous and the need for clean water there is immense. Also, the land is needed for food crops, not biofuel crops.” Cultivating algae in specially built ponds to purify wastewater is nothing new— such processes are under way around the world. Two things make the Umeå project innovative: the ponds are “fertilized” with extra CO2 and the algae are harvested for additional uses. It is easy to get microalgae to thrive and grow. The challenge for Francesco Gentili and his research colleagues is to find the best possible way to do this; at the same time as the algae remove the nutrients from the water they have to be transformed into an applicable, energy-rich end product. “Don’t listen to those who claim it can’t be done,” Francesco Gentili says. “We’ve built a unique plant in Umeå that also serves as a platform for other researchers wishing to test ideas and to better understand systems like this. That’s a big step forward.” What are microalgae? Microalgae, or microphytes, are microscopically small, rootless organisms that drift around in seas and lakes. They are photosynthesizing, which means they bind CO2 and release oxygen.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 16

2013-12-03 09.00

Let’s use algae to create biofuels! The world’s northernmost algae cultivation plant is located in Umeå in the north of Sweden. If it can be proven that algae can withstand the dark and cold Swedish winters, the researchers argue, they can withstand anything.

Francesco Gentili, microalgae researcher.

The Umeå algae plant in brief

Other algae innovations


The project is being run by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, while Umeå Energi, Umeva and Ragn-Sells are active municipal and industrial partners. The algae might help Umeå Energi achieve its aim is to be climate-neutral by 2018. The project was launched in 2007 and is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency and Processum Biorefinery Initiative AB.

Battery Professor Maria Strømme and her research group at Sweden’s Uppsala University have developed an “algae battery.” It features electrodes made of cellulose taken from green Cladophoraglomerata algae, and a conductive polymer. The biggest advantage of these batteries is that they can be charged in just ten seconds. But they are also cheap, simple, metal-free and safe to incinerate or throw away after use.

Omega-3 Fredrika Gullfot and her small company Simris Alg in southernmost Sweden want to make the most of the fact that microalgae produce many essential substances important for human and animal health. The company works with extracts from microalgae rich in omega-3, as a sustainable, safe and plant-based alternative to fish oil.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 17

2013-12-03 09.00

Commu 91%

of Swedes had internet provision in the home 2011 (mobile internet access excluded).



Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 18

2013-12-03 09.00

nication Improving everyday life

Which innovations have the greatest impact on our everyday lives? A couple of generations ago, we might have answered the fridge and the vacuum cleaner. Today, it’s the cell phone and the internet we can’t do without. TWENTY YEARS AGO, the world’s first text message was sent. It was a Christmas greeting. Since then, texting has exploded. In Sweden alone, 70 million messages of greeting are texted on Christmas Eve. Who writes Christmas cards anymore? Today, almost half of all Swedish households and businesses have access to 100 Mbit/s broadband, one Swede in five has access to a tablet computer, nearly six out of ten connect to the internet via their smartphones or tablets, and as many as 84 percent of internet users shop online. Swedish children are even more online than their parents. Over half of the three- to five-year-olds use the internet. The corresponding figure for teenagers is 100 percent and for 45- to 54-year-olds, 94 percent. When the World Wide Web Foundation measures internet development (growth, utility and impact on people and nations) in its Web Index, Sweden takes first place. With this in mind, it seems only natural that the people behind the online music streaming service Spotify are Swedes. When Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon launched this service in 2006, they were doing what many people wanted to see but few thought possible—legally offering free music via the internet. Spotify was in marked contrast to the earlier internet culture whereby many people downloaded and distributed music without permission. Sharing your favorite music with your friends and spreading lists on the internet quickly became popular, and the practice has since expanded around the world. The success of Spotify undoubtedly has something to do with Sweden’s strong position as both an internet and a music nation. ABBA got the “Swedish music miracle” under way in the mid-1970s, and today Sweden is the most successful country in the world as regards chart hits in relation

to GDP, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Finland and Canada. Among its top music exports are Robyn, Roxette, In Flames and Avicii. IRRITATION OVER A PERCEIVED INERTIA in society, coupled with a keenness to introduce new concepts, can create a good breeding ground for innovators and entrepreneurs. That was the case, for instance, when Monica Lindstedt and her friends Pelle Anderson and Robert Braunerhielm started a newspaper based on a totally revolutionary business idea. They decided to distribute it via the local transport network in subway stations, since that’s where people want something to read. And it was to be free of charge, with advertising revenue covering the costs instead. Metro proved an international success. It is now the largest newspaper in the world, published in more than 100 cities in over 20 countries in Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Given the enormous upswing in smartphone popularity, the next step will probably be even smarter mobile solutions to simplify our day-to-day tasks. The Swedish Tax Agency, for instance, has developed a tax mobile app that enables people to submit their income tax returns quickly and simply via a smartphone (pages 26–27). What role computers will play in the future is hard to say, but we’re already seeing how mobile solutions are preferred in many parts of the world. Why haul around a large screen when you can make do with a small one? Or why not use voice or eye control instead of fiddling about with your fingers? Everyday problems, challenges and difficulties are not the same as they used to be—but they’re still encouraging new and exciting innovations.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 19

2013-12-03 09.00


Digital visit to the Vasa THE VASA MUSEUM in Stockholm is the most popular museum in Sweden. To be able

to show this national treasure to even more visitors, education officer Inger Elgestedt and her colleagues at the museum have found a new way for schools to visit them: via the internet. “School classes are particularly important to us, especially the ones that are far from Stockholm,” Inger Elgestedt says. “By using Skype, we can open up the museum to more people.” It was in 2010 that the museum started using Skype in its educational program to supplement physical visits. Pupils sit at home in their classrooms and follow the education officer on their screens. Besides replying to the children’s questions, Inger Elgestedt can take them to places where no regular visitors are allowed to go. “With the web camera I can show them interesting details in close-up—and I can also go on board the ship, although it gets a bit wobbly,” she says. It is precisely this sense of presence, of being able to respond to the children’s questions, hearing their shouts and laughter, that Inger Elgestedt sees as the great advantage of the Skype sessions. Also, they have proved especially valuable for children for whom Swedish is a second language. “They each go up to the computer in the classroom and ask me a question that they’ve prepared,” she says. “So it’s extra important to be well prepared and to speak clearly. Then they make a note of the answer and write a little article each. It feels like the real thing.” Is there anything in particular that Inger Elgestedt would like to say to Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström? “That it’s so great that Skype is freely available to all! The Vasa is a cultural treasure that belongs to everyone but that not everyone can visit in person. For us, Skype has meant that the Vasa Museum is now more democratic than ever.” Niklas Zennström Entrepreneur and investor Niklas Zennström is best known as the co-founder of Skype, but he has also launched or developed other internet services such as the peer-to-peer music-sharing application Kazaa, the internet TV service Joost and the music subscription service Rdio. He has also founded the Atomico investment group. To give something back to the community at large and help meet challenges in the world, Zennström and his wife Catherine started a foundation in 2007, Niklas Zennström Philanthropies. It supports organizations that fight for human rights, that aim to stop climate change and that encourage social entrepreneurship in order to protect the environment.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 20

2013-12-03 09.00

Receiving school classes at the Vasa With Skype, cultural treasures Museum via Skype allows Inger Elgestedt like the Vasa become accessible to show the children details of the ship to more people. that are off-limits to physical visitors.

Skype—quick facts

The Vasa Museum

Business: Free IP telephony and other forms of internet communication Founded: 2003 Founders: Sweden’s Niklas Zennström and Denmark’s Janus Friis Owners: Zennström sold Skype for USD 3.1 billion to eBay in 2005. He subsequently repurchased it together with a consortium and sold it on to Microsoft for USD 8.5 billion in 2011

History: The warship Vasa, commissioned by Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf, sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, was salvaged in 1961 and was given a new home in the present purpose-built museum building in Stockholm in 1990 Number of visitors: 1.2 million (2012), Sweden’s most popular museum


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 21

2013-12-03 09.00

Cash is not king anymore—at least not in Sweden. At this Christmas market in Stockholm, iZettle makes payment easier for both seller and buyer.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 22

2013-12-03 09.00


Easy payment by smartphone SWEDEN HAS ABOUT 910,000 private companies. Most of them are either small or

medium-sized, that is, they have up to 50 employees. In fact, no less than 75 percent of these companies are sole traders—and that includes everyone from strawberry sellers to IT consultants. One of these small businesses is run by a successful retailer of reading glasses. She arrived home late one evening after a trade fair, tired and dejected, and complained: “I could have sold any amount if only there’d been an easy way of paying by card. People don’t carry cash anymore!” The retailer’s husband, a serial entrepreneur named Jacob de Geer, had promised his wife to take things easy for a while. But he couldn’t stop thinking about how life might be made a little easier for all the family businesses, market sellers and other small-time traders out there. He talked to Magnus Nilsson, another entrepreneur, and the matter was settled: they had a new mission. “As an entrepreneur, you get irritated by solutions that clearly don’t work—and you want to see if you can come up with something better,” Jacob de Geer says. This time it would take only 18 months from initial idea to finished product on the market. The result was iZettle, a chip card reader that quickly transforms a smartphone into a small payment terminal for money transfers between individuals or to companies, using a debit or credit card. The money goes straight into the recipient’s bank account. Today, there are more than 100,000 iZettle units on the market, which may be compared to the 200,000 regular payment terminals in all Swedish stores nationwide. So, a clever idea taken to market. But what is it that makes an entrepreneur successful? According to Jacob de Geer, a good entrepreneur finds challenges stimulating and remains patient when encountering setbacks. Good training is a valuable prerequisite, but being responsive to people with other skills is crucial. “The main lesson I’ve learnt is that economic experts and technicians are completely different in their thinking,” he says. “We must learn to stop talking past each other, to really listen. Only when we’re able to communicate properly do things start happening.”

Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson.

iZettle—in brief iZettle was founded in 2010 by Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson and was subsequently financed by Index Ventures, Greylock Partners, Creandum, Northzone, American Express, SEB Private Equity and MasterCard. The iZettle device became commercially available in August 2011. It complies with the global EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) standard for credit and debit payment cards based on chip card technology.

How it works The user downloads the iZettle app to a smartphone or tablet, registers online, buys the specific chip card reader and can then receive card payments (for a transaction fee). It is also possible to receive card payments for smaller amounts just using the app.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 23

2013-12-03 09.00

Hans Eriksson.

Bambuser—quick facts

Democratic broadcasting

Business: Internet services for live transmissions of video films using cell phones or web cameras Founded: 2007 Founders: IT entrepreneurs Jonas Vig and Måns Adler Chairman: Hans Eriksson Number of employees: 12

Before, only the major TV news channels were able to broadcast live. Now, virtually anyone can do it. Bambuser is a world leader in this technological field.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 24

2013-12-03 09.00


Live video from right where it happens

In October 2011, Libyans celebrated the liberation of the country. The Arab Spring became a breakthrough for Bambuser; suddenly, people only needed a cell phone to broadcast live videos of the dramatic events around them.

“EVERY DAY, we’re among the very first to know what’s going on in the world,” IT entrepreneur Hans Eriksson says. “That’s what’s so brilliant about this.” Hans Eriksson chairs the board of Bambuser, an internet service that enables people to broadcast video films live using a cell phone or a web camera. The breakthrough for the service came with the Arab Spring of 2011. And Hans Eriksson sees Bambuser in precisely this light, as a modern tool of democracy. “Our users are the ones providing the really important news on the spot, and the rest of us can follow their live broadcasts,” he says. “What used to be the preserve of the major TV and production companies is now something anyone can do.” That, in fact, was how the whole project started. When social media grew and spread, the demand to produce and publish live video grew as well. Preferably, it should be as simple to produce video films as to watch them. That at least was the founders’ basic premise. After creating a Bambuser account, anyone can download an application to their cell phone—and then just start filming. This enables many more voices to be heard and authentic images to be spread around the world, which has not pleased everyone. The service is anything but uncontroversial. When Bambuser-produced material leaked out of polling stations in Egypt in November 2011, it wasn’t long before the Egyptian authorities closed down the internet throughout the country. For people in perilous situations the fact that no material is saved in the phone itself is an important safety consideration. Today, Bambuser has agreements with several major news channels. CNN and Al Jazeera, for instance, are keen to show film from places where no journalists are allowed in. According to Hans Eriksson, the fact that the company is Swedish has surprisingly proved a boon. “We’re regarded as a neutral country without preconceived ideas—and that gives us credibility with activists and resistance movements, but also vis-à-vis the traditional news companies,” he says. “They haven’t been too sure about how to relate to this way of producing news, but now they’re beginning to understand what it’s all about.”


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 25

2013-12-03 09.00


Citizen-friendly tax service “WE REALLY WANTED TO be the first, it was extremely important for us.”

Kay Kojer.

The tax mobile app in brief The tax mobile app was developed internally by the Swedish Tax Agency, in consultation with users. In future development work, too, users will be brought into the process; in other words, the agency will develop what users demand. The app allows you to see all the details in your tax return, to determine whether any income has been deducted or added, to make deductions for travel to and from work, to calculate your tax, and to approve and sign your return and send it in. As of 2013, it will also be possible to see your final tax statement.

Kay Kojer is a development officer at the Swedish Tax Agency, the government body responsible among other things for handling people’s income tax returns. In March 2011, the agency launched a tax mobile app that can be used to file tax returns via a smartphone. This service innovation was the first of its kind in the world, and interest from government agencies abroad has been massive. An important prerequisite for the app to work was that users could provide proof of identity online. And it had to be totally secure. The Tax Agency’s success in developing such an app, which no-one had done before, paved the way for all manner of new mobile services. “Providing digital services like these, that enable customers or users to manage everything via their smartphone rather than a computer, is becoming increasingly important,” says Kay Kojer, stressing that the public sector must keep up with developments in this sphere. “In the public agency world, things don’t always proceed rapidly, so showing that we could act fast was an extra kick. We were given the go-ahead internally in November 2010 and launched the app on March 5, 2011. That must be a world record!” The Swedish Tax Agency is working strategically to boost and exploit the commitment of its staff in all development and change processes. Its staff policy clearly states that each employee is expected to contribute his or her own creativity: “Be curious! Develop!” To ensure that staff suggestions are given due consideration, the agency gathers them in a special development portfolio. A number of conditions have to be met before a project idea is admitted to this portfolio. A financial cost estimate is required, as well as a study and analysis of the legal aspects. The security requirements are rigorous. No information may leak out. The security arrangements surrounding identity must be such that access to someone else’s personal data is absolutely impossible. When Kay Kojer and his colleagues began developing the idea for the tax mobile app in 2009, the rest of the organization showed little interest. From a customer viewpoint, however, a clear need was emerging. Kay Kojer often heard how customers were looking for a way to file tax returns quickly and simply via their cell phones. “We checked around in our networks and asked people what they wanted. The replies convinced us. People wanted to be able to file their returns wherever they found themselves. They wanted it to be simple.” When the Swedish Tax Agency looked abroad for guidance, however, it failed to find a single country with a mobile solution of this type. Paradoxically, it was this that


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 26

2013-12-03 09.00

Titti Jöngren, a farmer in Åkersberga, north of Stockholm, files her tax return via her smartphone while tending to her sheep. The Swedish Tax Agency has made an effort to make digital tax services available to small businesses as well as private citizens.

prompted the agency to invest. It saw a chance of becoming the first in the world and thereby gaining the kind of reputation it wanted: as a modern, innovative public body. And that’s how it turned out. In 2012, some 185,000 people used the app to file their tax returns. Kay Kojer is constantly reminded that the agency made the right move. “I remember an Ericsson employee texting me to say: ‘I’ll recall this as the year when I filed my tax return in the middle of the night while flying between Beijing and Hong Kong, using your tax mobile app.’”

Filing a tax return in Sweden In Sweden, private citizens are required to declare their income for the year by early May the following year. Nowadays, tax returns can be filed via the internet, mobile apps or text messages, or by telephone, or—like in the old days—on a printed form.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 27

2013-12-03 09.00


The social entrepreneur The public sector

Non-governmental organizations


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 28

2013-12-03 09.00

Because we care What drives certain people to work almost round the clock, putting their family life and relationships at risk, and forgetting to eat or sleep—only to solve other people’s problems? INNOVATORS ARE BORNE FORWARD by their ideas. By a simple desire to make them work. For many, personal success and financial gain are a further incentive. But an equally powerful motivating force can be the chance to do good for others. We call people who combine business thinking with a wider social objective social entrepreneurs. Frequently, innovators and entrepreneurs who start companies and organizations adopting this kind of approach have identified a need for change—towards a more sustainable social and ecological type of development—rather than a need for a new product or service. They feel at home among businesspeople and investors, among non-governmental and international organizations, as well as in the public sector (see figure left). Multitalented—and with their hearts in the right place. One way to become a social entrepreneur is to support others who are already active in this area. In Sweden, there are several such examples, including: ǩ people around the world, the Kinnevik group has launched the Reach for Change incubator program. It is chaired by Cristina Stenbeck, daughter of Kinnevik founder Jan Stenbeck and the current owner and chair of the investment company. ǩ DŽ DŽ head of ABB, now heads the non-profit organization Hand-in-Hand, which

supports democracy, health and development projects in developing countries. It is best known for extending microcredits to women in India. ǩ DŽ DŽ Ǭ ǭLJ The aim of this initiative is to share risks with companies wishing to pursue inclusive business ideas that help alleviate poverty. AS EARLY AS 1927, the founders of Volvo laid down the following: “Cars are driven by people. Therefore, the guiding principle in everything we do at Volvo is—and must always be—safety.” Sweden has long been a world leader in road safety (pages 34–35). This may well be due to the social aspect. Getting around on the roads is about safety, communication and technology. But it’s also about what actually causes our behavior behind the wheel or the handlebars. Robots in the health care sector are another example of innovations requiring both technical and social skills (pages 36–37). A robot that helps patients to eat may at first sight seem like an invasion of privacy—is poor old mom to be fed by a machine? But mom herself may feel the opposite—at last I can take control over how and when I want to eat, instead of being dependent on a well-disposed carer. Security and freedom suddenly become two sides of the same coin.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 29

2013-12-03 09.00


Interaction via eye control THE STORY OF Tobii began in 2001 in a basement of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. John Elvesjö was analyzing samples using optic sensors. Suddenly, he happened to point a sensor at himself—and found that it followed the movements of his eyes. The story might have ended there. But he realized something important. Perhaps this was the first tiny step towards an eye-tracking computer? The rest is history, as they say. Today, the development of the computer interface is moving rapidly towards voice, gesture, touch and eye control. John Elvesjö, co-founder and CTO of Tobii, offers an example: “We’ll soon be using our gaze to scroll text on the screen while our hands are on the keyboard. Or we can get the explanation for a particular word that has caught our eye.” Being able to point by shifting one’s gaze is extra useful for people who are unable to use their hands. “People with disabilities are still our most important customer group, although we’re now seeing how this new technology is rapidly moving into the mass market,” John Elvesjö says. “In many respects, eye control comes naturally to us, which makes it easier to accept than other kinds of control.” It is easy to be fascinated by all the opportunities that eye tracking technology opens up—and maybe, too, a little frightened by the prospect of the computer noting everything you look at on the screen. John Elvesjö thinks any doubts we may have as consumers will soon pass when we realize the advantages. “Already, advertisers can use data about browsing habits to determine what information you’re interested in. Eye tracking is just a new, smarter way of controlling your computer, but you’re still the one who’s in control.” John Elvesjö heads a company with 300 employees, and he embraces a management philosophy based on ambition and passion in equal parts. He draws a comparison with what happens at a soccer stadium. “Just think how many people support their team with real joy and passion,” he says. “They really come alive during games, with the other supporters. But the same people often have a boring 9-to-5 job they go to every day. And moan about.” John Elvesjö wishes that more people were as passionate about their jobs as they are about their soccer club. “You have to keep on fighting and show ambition,” he says. “That makes the job more fun and you develop further, get more chances and then you’re on a roll. It’s all about how committed you are, and I think that’s very much up to you.”

Tobii—quick facts Business: Eye tracking technology; released the first eye-tracking computer in 2006 Founded: 2001 Founders: John Elvesjö (CTO), Mårten Skogö and Henrik Eskilsson (CEO) Vision: Eye tracking in all computers


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 30

2013-12-03 09.00

If you can’t use your hands, an eye-controlled computer is a great help. But the Tobii developers argue that soon we will all use different forms of eye tracking technology in our everyday lives.

Eye tracking—how it works

John Elvesjö, Mårten Skogö and Henrik Eskilsson.

An eye tracker uses projection patterns and optical sensors to gather data about gaze direction or eye movements. The eye gaze provides a very efficient way of pointing. Eye tracking technology enables people to use their gaze in interaction with computers and machines.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 31

2013-12-03 09.00

Peepoo was ďŹ rst tested in Kibera, Africa’s second largest urban slum. Today, Peepoople is currently serving more than 4,500 people and is improving health and livelihood here.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 32

2013-12-03 09.00


A sanitary revolution for day-to-day life “WE MUST DARE to talk about poo.” Karin Ruiz, the CEO of Peepoople, feels there is a disproportionate silence about sanitary problems in developing countries—despite the fact that children are dying at the rate of one a second as a result of diarrhea-related disease. When looking at the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, basic sanitation is found under Environmental Sustainability, Goal 7. However, it could just as easily be placed under Child Health, Goal 4, or Gender Equality, Goal 3. The target of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015, as stated in Goal 7, seems impossible to reach. Karin Ruiz remarks on the slow response that the sanitation issue seems to provoke among both local power holders and international organizations. “Evidently, food and clean water are easier to talk about than access to a decent, hygienic toilet,” she says. “Just imagine the benefits to society if you could reduce the spread of disease and at the same time increase people’s quality of life and self-respect.” Women and children suffer most from the lack of privies; men relieve themselves more openly. In slum areas in many African and Indian cities, women can often be seen stealing out after dark—with all that this entails in terms of personal safety. The Peepoo story starts with Anders Wilhelmson, a professor of architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, who was visiting a number of burgeoning megacity slums. At the time, he was leading a research program on the implications of urbanization. But instead of architecture and urban planning, something else soon began to occupy his thoughts. Shouldn’t it be possible to produce a cheap toilet so simple that even a young child could use it—and which could also wipe out pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms? The result was Peepoo, a biodegradable, single-use toilet in the form of a thin bag with an ammonia-based powder at the bottom. The producer, Peepoople, is now distributing it via schools and a web of retailers—“micro entrepreneurs”—in slum areas, but also via aid organizations to disaster areas and refugee camps. Peepoople has realized something important. While decision-makers and the media must dare talk about these basic hygienic needs, it is also vital to respect people’s privacy, particularly that of women. The development of a small germ-killing toilet has been about understanding the situation of women and helping them solve an embarrassing problem.

Karin Ruiz.

Peepoople—quick facts Business: Single-use toilets Founded: 2006 Founders: Anders Wilhelmson and Camilla Wirseen CEO: Karin Ruiz Headquarters: Stockholm Mission: All people who so desire shall have access to dignified and hygienic sanitation Commitment: To reinvest future profits to support its endeavor and social mission

Forty percent of the world’s population lack access to a toilet.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 33

2013-12-03 09.00


From simple seatbelts to hi-tech warning systems IN 1997, SWEDEN became the first country in the world to announce a zero-vision

Anna Nilsson-Ehle.

SAFER in brief At SAFER Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre at Chalmers, in Gothenburg, 25 partners from the Swedish automotive industry, academia and society conduct multidisciplinary research with the aim of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries. Anna Nilsson-Ehle, director of SAFER, would like to see enhanced collaborative research and innovation to leverage the strategic initiatives in traffic safety.

Tough targets on Swedish roads It should be possible to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities by 50 percent—that is, to 133 fatalities per year—until 2020, according to a report from the Swedish Transport Administration. This would require measures such as continued development of vehicle and infrastructure safety technology, as well as improved use of seatbelts and helmets.

Pre-crash warning In 2007, Volvo became the first car manufacturer to introduce a collision warning system with automatic braking. This has been shown to reduce the risk of ramming the vehicle in front on a freeway by up to 42 percent for cars and 15 percent for trucks.

strategy aimed at curbing road deaths. While such a target is in principle impossible to achieve, it marked an important step. The vision gave people something to focus on, whether researchers, engineers, traffic planners—or drivers themselves. As a matter of fact, Sweden has led the world in road safety for half a century. The three-point seatbelt, a Swedish innovation first marketed in 1959, is said to be the invention that has saved most lives in traffic around the world, and Swedish vehicle manufacturers such as Volvo, Volvo Cars and Scania—and previously Saab as well— have long had a strong safety profile. Sweden is particularly concerned about child safety in traffic. This is reflected in innovations such as Bertil Aldman’s rear-facing child safety seat from 1963 and CarlArne Breger’s molded plastic child seat for bicycles, from 1976. These early innovations were important in helping to pave the way for current road safety research. Anna Nilsson-Ehle, Director of SAFER, a multidisciplinary research and innovation center at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, describes what characterizes several of the projects currently being pursued there. “We’re now starting to combine advanced technology with our understanding of how people actually behave in a real traffic situation,” she says. “This opens up exciting opportunities for vehicle development, but also for how we design our towns and cities in the future.” The researchers collect huge amounts of data from film cameras, both cameras attached to the vehicle that track what is happening in surrounding traffic and cameras that track what the test drivers are doing behind the wheel. These field operational tests combine the latest in information and communication technologies with knowledge drawn from mathematics and behavioral science. New systems take into account both how we react to crisis situations and how we behave behind the wheel. Automatic pre-crash warning systems and new types of cruise control are two examples. Anna Nilsson-Ehle believes we are facing some very significant changes and that it is not necessarily academia or industry that will need to take a lead. “Technologically, we can provide fully automatic traffic management, but if it’s really going to work, our politicians will have to assume a more active role,” she says. “What kind of society do we want? How should we get about in tomorrow’s city? These are tricky questions that require some long-term thinking on the part of decision-makers.”


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 34

2013-12-03 09.00

Bertil Aldman got the idea of a rear-facing child safety seat from the position of the astronauts in a space capsule. By lying on their backs, in the opposite direction to the force of acceleration, they were better able to withstand the acceleration. Bertil Aldman believed that the same principle could be applied to protect a child in a car in the event of a head-on collision.

People are soft, cars are hard

Airbag on your head?

Almost two-thirds of those who die on the roads are pedestrians. With the new Pedestrian Detector, the car “senses” anyone about to step out in front of it—and brakes automatically. Should impact nevertheless be inevitable, Pedestrian Protection cushions it by inflating airbags on the outside of the car. The first car thus equipped is the Volvo V40 2012.

Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have developed the Hövding bicycle helmet from initial idea to end product, collaborating with Swedish airbag producer Alva Sweden, among others.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 35

2013-12-03 09.00

Don’t have time to visit your mom as often as you’d like? Giraff enables you to make a virtual visit.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 36

2013-12-03 09.00


A new visitor in elderly care LIKE SO MANY successful inventions, the idea for Giraff derived from an innovator’s

frustration with his own circumstances in life. Stephen Von Rump lived in San Francisco while his parents were still living in his home town, St. Louis. They were getting old and his mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s. “My father was scared to leave the house,” Stephen Von Rump says. “It was terrible to see how their lives shrank as mom’s health worsened.” Entrepreneur Stephen Von Rump was looking for his next business opportunity at the time and was introduced to two other entrepreneurs who had developed a mobile communication system for laboratory environments. He realized that something similar could be developed for home use. Setting up a website—an idea tank—he urged people to describe how they would like to use a mobile videophone, a sort of “Skype on wheels.” In just a few weeks, Stephen Von Rump had collected so many ideas that he began to see a pattern. “People clearly want something that keeps their elderly relatives socially active, makes them more secure and at the same time allows them to live independently,” he says. Together with his two co-founders, Stephen Von Rump was recruited to Robotdalen (see right), where he has been developing the mobile videophone concept further since 2009. Why Sweden, exactly? A principal reason, he says, is that Swedish elderly care is so well organized, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. It was easy to find the right people to talk to, and they were able to describe their requirements very specifically. “One important reason for our success is that we were attentive to users’ needs,” Stephen Von Rump says. “We’ve also determined when our solution works and when it doesn’t, how you develop a financing model for the municipalities responsible for elderly care and how you communicate with family members and care staff. The robot itself is only one part of the whole innovation.” Using robots in health and elderly care raises important questions of integrity, freedom and security. By making it easier for elderly to communicate on their own terms, the developers hope that devices like Giraff will become a natural complement to staff and personal visits. The name Giraff—Swedish for giraffe—began as a joke. But with the passing of time, Stephen Von Rump realized that it was a stroke of genius. ”The giraffe is a friendly, inquiring animal. Who wouldn’t want to be visited by a creature like that?”

Stephen Von Rump, Giraff’s innovator and one of the founders and CEO of Giraff Technologies AB.

How it works Giraff is a remote-controlled, robot-like device with a video screen as a face and wheels like feet. It enables caregivers to visit elderly and people with disabilities over the internet, communicating just as if they were physically there. Today, some 50 Giraff devices are in use, about half of them in Sweden and the rest in other parts of Europe. The company behind is Giraff Technologies AB.

Robotdalen in brief In Robotdalen (“Robot Valley”), ideas concerning robotics and automation are turned into products. Robot suppliers, customers and users, entrepreneurs, researchers, financiers and other parties work together to find solutions, primarily for use in industry, heavy vehicles and the health sector. Robotdalen is based in Västerås, west of Stockholm.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 37

2013-12-03 09.00

Hea Current public costs for R&D by ďŹ eld of science in 2011 (MSEK and %) Natural sciences 7,047


Engineering and technology 5,362


Other 9

0% Humanities 1,894


Social sciences 4,551

Medical and health sciences 9,630



Agricultural sciences 1,189 Source: Statistics Sweden



Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 38

2013-12-03 09.00

lth Life-saving solutions

Basic research in Sweden is world class. And the Swedish pharmaceutical industry is a world leader. This has paved the way for many of the pioneering innovations of the 20th century, such as the pacemaker and the bestselling anti-ulcer medicine Losec. Where, then, will we find the new ideas and successful innovations of tomorrow? MEDICAL RESEARCH IS EXPENSIVE. It absorbs the largest share of resources in the Swedish state research budget (see figure left). Fortunately, medical research enjoys strong popular support in Sweden. When asked which field of research they would most like to see funded, the majority of Swedes say cancer. This is hardly surprising, given that a third of the Swedish population contracts cancer in one form or another. Bearing in mind the impact on those close to cancer sufferers as well, it is fair to say that the disease affects everyone. No-one is left untouched.

THE SAME IS TRUE of infectious diseases—although in other parts of the world. In the developing countries, infections account for almost half of all fatalities. The most common are bronchial infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrhearelated diseases, tuberculosis and malaria. In Sweden, many promising projects are in progress to address this gigantic global problem in one way or another. In October 2012, scientists at the MAX IV research center in Lund announced that they had managed to identify the detailed, three-dimensional structure of an important protein found in the cell membranes of plants and bacteria. A vital discovery. Because more than half of all medicines interact with membrane proteins, this is seen as an important step forward in the fight against diseases like malaria. In the field of life science, however, the road from discovery to market

product is often a long and winding one, a test of patience with many a pitfall along the way. A completely new anti-malaria drug that has passed all tests so far and is therefore on the verge of industrial production is Sevuparin, developed by the Swedish biotech company Dilaforette. The company was started by a group of world-ranking scientists from Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University.

TODAY, ONE IN FIVE Swedish researchers can be found in the life science industry. The level of competence is impressive. It is in and around the universities’ international centers of excellence that we find tomorrow’s innovations. One example is SciLifeLab, a partnership between the four universities in the Stockholm–Uppsala region: Stockholm University, Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology and Uppsala University. Powerful research environments have been established here in traditionally strong Swedish fields such as proteomics, genomics and comparative genetics. Also attached to SciLifeLab is Sweden’s largest research project by far, the Protein Atlas project (pages 44–45). Working together, so much more can be achieved. Interaction between academia and the business community invigorates both. And it not only helps create spry new companies but also promotes further advancement in the major export companies’ large development departments. No-one is left untouched.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 39

2013-12-03 09.00


Making life easier for asthma sufferers MEDICAL INNOVATIONS differ from many other innovations in one important respect—

Jan Trofast.

Symbicort—in brief Innovators: Christer Carling and Jan Trofast (combination of the two substances), Kjell Wetterlin (the Turbuhaler* inhaler) Launched: 2000 Company: AstraZeneca Turnover: Approximately USD 3 billion (2011) and growing *Symbicort and Turbuhaler are registered trademarks of the AstraZeneca group.

How it works Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are both chronic inflammatory diseases of the lung that make it difficult to breathe. Symbicort is an inhaled combination of a rapid-acting and long-lasting bronchodilator, formoterol, and an anti-inflammatory substance, budesonide. The dose regimen in asthma can be varied depending on the status of the disease, which means the number of attacks can be reduced.

they take time. From idea to market product, they often take eight to twelve years, sometimes more. As an inventor with an idea for a new medicine, therefore, the key to success is patience. And how you deal with setbacks, whether in the laboratory or in the conference room. Year after year. Not becoming dispirited when all the signs are bad, when no-one believes in you any longer, and when doubts begin to creep in. How do you find the strength to cancel your holiday and spend the whole summer charting a new way forward? Ask Jan Trofast. For 33 years he has worked as a medicinal chemist and as a scientific advisor in the pharmaceutical industry, and he is one of the inventors behind AstraZeneca’s big-selling asthma drug Symbicort*. In the 1980s, he and his colleagues began examining the possibility of combining different drugs to arrive at the most advantageous treatment for asthma patients. In 1991, the unique combination of budesonide and formoterol (see left) was patented, and in 2000 Symbicort was released onto the market for both asthma patients and, some years later, people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Jan Trofast is proud of his contribution but emphasizes that a great many people are involved in the development of such a big new product. How did he manage to stay the course? While others draw inspiration from the power of music or art, he has mainly been inspired by an historical figure. “You have no idea how much it has meant having Berzelius at my side,” says Jan Trofast emphatically. “He has helped me through many tough times.” Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779–1848) has been called the father of Swedish chemistry. He is best known for having discovered a number of new elements, and for giving all the elements the one- or two-letter notations that are still used worldwide. When studying Berzelius’s papers, Jan Trofast was delighted to find that this 19th-century chemist was far ahead of his time in his work approach—one that is eminently applicable to creative innovation environments in the modern age: “There are four criteria that all innovators should be aware of: knowledge, openness, availability and a multidisciplinary approach. These are absolutely crucial if you want to succeed.” By availability, Jan Trofast means that as a researcher and a research leader you have to make yourself available, make time for others in the team, and be prepared to act rapidly when required.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 40

2013-12-03 09.00

“Nowadays, time is in short supply both in our companies and at our universities. Everyone’s concentrating on their own special thing, when they’re not stuck in meetings of every description. But you should be prepared to listen immediately when someone is full of enthusiasm about something.” So although drug development takes a long time, it is also characterized by a shortage of time. The need to work strategically, to apply sound methods and the right priorities, is paramount. Here, too, Jan Trofast cites his master, who wrote that if we work “according to the same plan, science may develop to an extent we can scarcely imagine or perchance hope for.”

Symbicort gives both children and adults with asthma the chance to live like everyone else. Previously, patients were given two different drugs—one that was anti-inflammatory and one that opened the airways. Symbicort is an innovation in that it combines both functions in a balanced way.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 41

2013-12-03 09.01

Said about LUCAS mechanical chest compression device: “LUCAS is one of the best members of our crew. It doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t get distracted, and it provides the best chest compressions I’ve ever seen.”


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 42

2013-12-03 09.01


Mechanical resuscitation that saves lives IN SWEDEN ALONE, some 10,000 people a year suffer a cardiac arrest, which is more

than 20 times the number of traffic accident deaths. Of these 10,000, about half are given cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by ambulance personnel. Yet only one in ten survive. It was with this problem in mind that the LUCAS chest compression system was developed. The idea originally came from a paramedic in the early 1990s. He saw a patient on a stretcher receive CPR and wondered if it had to be that difficult. The paramedic got in touch with Professor Stig Steen of Lund University Hospital, who approached a medical company in Lund about the possibility of making a chest compressor. Doing chest compressions correctly is quite difficult, as anyone who has taken part in a lifesaving course knows. It’s so arduous that rescuers are recommended to take turns, working in two-minute intervals. One of the great benefits of LUCAS—apart from the fact that it saves lives—is that it improves the work situation. While the chest compressor is doing its job, the personnel can perform other lifesaving tasks as well as sit safely belted during transportation. The product is developed and manufactured by Jolife in Lund, southern Sweden. Global marketing director Sara Lindroth says the company has celebrated the tenth anniversary of the first patient that LUCAS helped to survive. “Meeting patients who have survived a cardiac arrest is tremendously rewarding,” she says. “And it’s a privilege to cooperate and communicate with emergency medical teams from all around the world, including firefighters, paramedics, nurses, emergency physicians and heart specialists.” Today, LUCAS is doing well commercially, but Sara Lindroth is keen to stress that a good product does not guarantee commercial success. According to her, LUCAS has succeeded on the market thanks to good teamwork, close customer cooperation, well planned distribution and committed owners. “I’m often surprised that such an apparently self-evident product as LUCAS has required so much effort to sell,” Sara Lindroth says.

LUCAS and Jolife —the business story Jolife was formed in 2000 to develop LUCAS. The first device was used by Swedish ambulances in the field in late 2003. In 2004, the device went on sale in northern Europe. In 2009, LUCAS 2 was launched. Unlike the pneumatic LUCAS 1 it was battery-powered and therefore easier to carry and use. Sales increased substantially. In 2011, Physio-Control purchased Jolife AB after a seven-year marketing partnership. LUCAS devices are sold in the United States, Europe, Japan, Canada and China.

Sara Lindroth.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 43

2013-12-03 09.01


For safer diagnoses and better treatment

Mathias Uhlén.

The Human Protein Atlas project in brief The Human Protein Atlas project has three main sites—Stockholm, Uppsala and Mumbai—where all data generation to the Protein Atlas takes place. In addition, research linked to the project is being pursued by some 30 research groups in Europe, North America and Asia. Professor Mathias Uhlén initiated the Protein Atlas and has principal responsibility for it. The project is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Some statistics Number of proteins already mapped: 14,079 Budget: SEK 900m (2013–2015) Number of researchers involved: 120 Number of publications in direct research partnerships: 189 Scheduled completion of project: 2015 (began in 2003)

IN 2003, the Human Genome Project finally completed its mapping of all human genes. Scientists then switched their attention to proteins. In Sweden, a research project was initiated that has been described as the most complex ever undertaken: the Human Protein Atlas project. By gathering data on how our bodily proteins—that is, the products of our 20,000 genes—are distributed in our various organs and tissues, scientists and doctors can acquire both the overview and the detailed expertise they need to develop better diagnostic methods for various diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Since 99 percent of all medicines have links to proteins, it will also become possible to develop new drugs and new forms of treatment. The information is being assembled in the Human Protein Atlas, a gigantic image database that is freely accessible on the web. Jenny Ottosson Takanen, a PhD in biotechnology, is the project’s site director at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. “What has motivated me most is that we’re showing that it is possible to pursue this extensive mapping of the human proteins,” she says, adding that it is vital to approach such a complex project systematically. “We develop antibodies that act as markers for all human proteins. If we want to study a certain protein or a certain kind of disease tissue, antibodies are the most important tools we have. Without them, it’s like using fishing rods without hooks.” Trying to fish without hooks—that’s an image that many doctors would doubtless recognize. Fredrik Pontén is a professor at Uppsala University’s Department of Genetics and Pathology. He and his colleagues receive antibodies produced in Stockholm and test them on a wide range of tissue samples: lungs, kidneys, brain and so on. This enables the production of images where coloring shows both which tissues the protein resides in and how it is expressed. The Protein Atlas project works as an open innovation environment where the users benefit from the Protein Atlas information to advance their own research on, say, a certain disease or a certain protein, thereby in turn contributing to the overall body of knowledge. It saves the scientists the effort of doing the laborious and costly work of analyzing where in the body a given protein is to be found. In this way, the Protein Atlas project is of benefit to other scientists, doctors and—in the long run—patients. Such a comprehensive image database is of immense value to the trained eye, and the users themselves are also able to test the various antibodies on cell tissue


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 44

2013-12-03 09.01

from patients currently afflicted with one kind of disease or another. Besides the “big four” cancers, that is, breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer, scientists are looking at diabetes, where they have already made considerable progress in determining which proteins affect beta-cell functions in the pancreas. Fredrik Pontén has noticed that the tools and knowledge assembled in the Protein Atlas are already being used, and this has proved an important incentive. “I’m really passionate about the practical medical benefits of this fantastic project,” he says. ”It’s not just about achieving a better understanding of disease mechanisms, it’s also about more accurate diagnoses of cancer, for instance, and about better treatment for patients with different kinds of cancer.”

This is a high-resolution picture of tumor cells from a human skeleton cell line. The cell nuclei are shown in blue and the studied protein, electron-transfer-flavoprotein, is shown in green to localize the cell’s “power stations,” the mitochondria.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 45

2013-12-03 09.01


Swedish sports movement exported to China HIS FATHER DID IT 35 years ago. Now he’s there himself—Linus Holmsäter takes a boombox, sets it down in a park in Beijing, presses play and starts moving to the music. He soon has a hundred followers. That’s how simple it can be to launch a popular movement, with the emphasis on movement. If you know what you want. And what people like. When Linus Holmsäter’s father, Johan, founded the Friskis&Svettis non-profit sports association in 1978, some 2.5 percent of Swedes were over 80 years old; yet they accounted for 25 percent of the country’s health care costs. Where others only saw the medical and financial problems, Johan Holmsäter looked at it from another angle. “What actually keeps people fit and healthy? No-one was asking that question, but we did.” He goes on: “People are driven by motivation. Exercising must be fun, otherwise we don’t do it. And it’s not just about keeping fit, it’s also about strengthening our selfrespect and belief in ourselves. Only then do we get that wonderful urge to fulfill our mission in life, to push on.” In China, where the concept is called Heyrobics, the image of the younger Holmsäter, Linus, in the crazy color combination of pink shorts and yellow-and-blue t-shirt has spread rapidly, not least in social media. Heyrobics is already established in 12 places in Beijing, and Linus Holmsäter has had to call in his father to help him train more leaders. But, some might ask, what is actually innovative about this? In the case of both Holmsäter generations, success is largely a matter of “how” rather than “what.” They build their organizations with voluntary assistance from the bottom up, they choose trainers from among their members—and they make it easy for everyone to take part. Instead of companies controlled from the top, they’ve built up member-driven associations in which each member has a vote. “Both Linus and I know that people have a very strong need to meet naturally,” Johan Holmsäter says. “Instead of sitting chatting in a café, we give them the chance to meet somewhere where you can move to good music. And we tell our members: ‘Don’t look up to us—do it together with us!’” So what has he passed on to his son, besides an interest in sports and health? Johan Holmsäter replies instantly: “That nothing is impossible, that you should be open to everyone, give everyone a chance.”

Johan Holmsäter.


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 46

2013-12-03 09.01

Linus Holmsäter and his Swedish-style Heyrobics drew large crowds at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. (Linus is seen on the right, with his back to the camera, and his brother, Hampus Holmsäter, in the middle.)

Heyrobics—quick facts

Friskis&Svettis—quick facts

Business: Group workout to music Founded: 2010, in Beijing, China Founder: Linus Holmsäter Breakthrough: In connection with the WorldExpo in Shanghai 2010 Characterized by: Holmsäter’s special combination outfit—pink shorts and yellow-and-blue t-shirt

Business: Group workout to music and fitness exercises—indoors and outdoors Founded: 1978, in Stockholm Founder: Johan Holmsäter Members: 5.3 percent of all Swedes (2012); 538,870 people altogether, in Sweden and a dozen other European cities. Friskis&Svettis Stockholm is the largest single sports association in Sweden with over 70,000 members


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 47

2013-12-03 09.01








Swedish innovations through time

1632 1742 1748 1837 1844 1867

Johannes Rudbeckius founds Sweden’s first school for girls. Anders Celsius publishes a paper about the temperature scale now known as Celsius. Eva Ekeblad De la Gardie, discovers how to make vodka out of potatoes. The first ship equipped with John Ericsson’s propellers is built. Gustaf Erik Pasch is granted a patent for the safety match. Alfred Nobel obtains a patent for dynamite.

1878 1879 1891 1891 1892


The adjustable spanner (monkey wrench) is constructed by Johan Petter Johansson.


L. O. Smith introduces a new type of vodka, Absolut rent brännvin (later renamed Absolut vodka).


Gustaf Dalén develops the sun valve, which automatically regulates the illumination of lighthouses and buoys.


The oldest open-air museum in the world, Skansen, is founded in Stockholm by Artur Hazelius.


Sven Wingquist invents the spherical ball bearing and founds the SKF company.

Jonas Wenström patents the threephase transmission of alternating current, which becomes a pillar of ASEA, later ABB.



Axel Wenner-Gren produces the first vacuum cleaner together with Lux (later Electrolux).

1 1

Gustaf de Laval’s first milk separator is patented.

Lars Magnus Ericsson launches the skeleton-type telephone, a precursor of the standard 20th-century desk telephone.


Gideon Sundbäck patents the zipper.



1878 1748


1956 1892 1912 1933

1913 1922 1933

1933 1940


Sweden becomes the first country in the world to introduce a universal oldage pensions scheme. Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters invent a refrigerator that transforms heat into cold, an idea later developed by Electrolux. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) is founded by Elise Ottesen-Jensen and others. Gunnar Tillander presents the world’s first liquid-based orienteering compass. Nanna Svartz’s rheumatism drug Salazopyrin goes on sale.



The local anesthetic Xylocaine is introduced by Nils Löfgren and Bengt Lundqvist.


Erik Wallenberg invents Tetra Pak, a type of tetrahedron-shaped disposable milk packaging.

1946 1948 1950 1952

Nils Alwall invents the first practical artificial kidney. Launch of the Hasselblad camera for civilian use (later to become the first camera to take pictures in space). Carl Gunnar Engström presents the first medical ventilator. Per-Ingvar Brånemark revolutionizes dentistry with his titan dental screw.

1953 1956 1958 1959 1961

Sweden’s Inge Edler and Germany’s Carl Hellmuth Hertz carry out the first ultrasound examination of a heart, ECG. (In 1977 they were honored with the American Lasker Award.) IKEA launches its first line of selfassembled, flat-pack furniture. Rune Elmqvist produces the first implantable pacemaker and Åke Senning carries out the first pacemaker operation. The three-point seatbelt is launched (page 34). Hans Karlsson invents the retractable seatbelt.


1907 1912

1933 1892



1963 1966 1970 1973 1974



1976 1977

Rear-facing child safety seats are invented (page 34). Bricanyl, an asthma drug with no unwanted side effects for the heart, is invented by Leif A Svensson and Kjell Wetterlin.

1978 1979 1981

Seloken, a beta blocker that lowers blood pressure, is invented by Arne Brändström, Arvid Carlsson, Stig Å. I. Carlsson, Hans Corrodi, Lars Ek and Bengt Åblad. Lillemor and Björn Jakobson’s first Babybjörn baby carrier sees the light of day.


Parental insurance for both parents is introduced.




A molded plastic child seat for bicycles is invented (page 34). The AXE telephone system, invented by Bengt Gunnar Magnusson, goes into operation. Swedish sports movement Friskis&Svettis is founded (page 46). The anti-ulcer drug Losec is granted a patent. Launch of the Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) system, developed under the leadership of Östen Mäkitalo, “the father of mobile telephony.” Håkan Lans obtains a patent for a color graphics processor.


1992 1995 1996 1997 1997


Launch of the GSM system for mobile communication, with Östen Mäkitalo as a key figure behind it. Publication of the world’s first free newspaper distributed through the public transport system, Metro. Håkan Lans obtains a patent for his automatic identification system (AIS). Electrolux unveils a prototype robot vacuum cleaner. Sweden becomes the first country in the world to announce a zero-vision strategy aimed at curbing road deaths (page 34). AstraZeneca gains initial approval for Symbicort Turbuhaler asthma treatment (page 40).


bile alo

e e

is AIS).


in on aths






2001 2001 2003 2003 2003 2005


2005 2005 2006 2006 2007 2007 2007

Adam Dunkels launches the μIP (micro IP) protocol stack, which facilitates communication between electronic devices. The idea behind the Tobii eye tracking system is born (page 30). The first LUCAS cardio-pulmonary resuscitation devices are used in Swedish ambulances (page 42). Skype is founded by Swede Niclas Zennström and Dane Janus Friis (page 20). The Human Protein Atlas project is initiated (page 44). Niklas Adalberth, Victor Jacobsson and Sebastian Siemiatkowski come up with a payment solution for safe online shopping (later named Klarna).


The Peepoo biodegradable toilet is invented (page 32). The “invisible” bicycle helmet Hövding is conceived (page 34). The Spotify online music streaming service is founded. Launch of the Solvatten water purification system (page 10). The online live video service Bambuser is founded (page 24). The microalgae project is launched in Umeå (page 16).


2008 2009 2011 2011 2012

The vertical greenhouse company Plantagon is founded (page 14). Birth of Giraff Technologies, the company behind the mobile videophone Giraff (page 36). The smartphone chip card reader iZettle is launched (page 22). The Swedish Tax Agency launches its tax mobile app (page 26). Portable fuel cell charger PowerTrekk is launched in selected stores (page 12).

Volvo becomes the first carmaker to introduce a collision warning system with automatic braking (page 34).






About the author


Eva Krutmeijer is a professional science communicator and a writer with a wide range of scientific skills. As head of information at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for a number of years, her duties included informing the world about the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. She is one of the founders of Percipia Strategy & Communication and also responsible for the science communication training program at Stockholm University.

Cover Illustration Sweco, © Plantagon. Illustration of a Plantagon greenhouse being built in the Swedish city of Linköping. This nearly 180 feet (54 meter) tall greenhouse should be ready for food production in 2014. Read more on pages 14–15.

About the Swedish Institute The Swedish Institute (SI) is a public agency that promotes interest and confidence in Sweden around the world. SI seeks to establish cooperation and lasting relations with other countries through strategic communication and exchange in the fields of culture, education, science and business. SI works closely with Swedish embassies and consulates around the world. For more information about SI and Sweden, please visit and Order more copies of this publication from, where you will find a range of Sweden-related material produced by the Swedish Institute. And why not download our iPad app Your Sweden at Do you have any views on this SI publication? Feel free to contact us at

Inside Alfa Laval, AstraZeneca, BabyBjörn, cover Electrolux, Ericssons historiska arkiv, Centrum för Näringslivshistoria, Getty Images, Giraff, Hövding, iStockphoto, LUCAS, Moderna museet, Nordiska museet, Peepoople/Camilla Wirseen, Scanpix, Silva, Sweco/Plantagon, Spotify, Tetra Pak, Tobii, Viveca Ohlsson, Volvo 1


2–7, Scanpix, Getty Images, Image Bank Sweden, Sanna Rosén,, Luleå Näringsliv

10–11 Scanpix, Solvatten 12–13 Getty Images, myFC 14–15 Sweco (illustration), © Plantagon; Scanpix 16–17 Getty Images, Umeå Energi 20–21 Scanpix, Skype, Melker Dahlstrand, Nils Stödberg 22–23 Melker Dahlstrand, iZettle 24–25 Bambuser, Scanpix 26–27 Johan Jeppsson 30–31 Tobii 32–33 Peepoople/Camilla Wirseen 34–35 Melker Dahlstrand, Volvo, Jan-Olof Yxell 36–37 Giraff, Terése Andersson 40–41 Jan Trofast, AstraZeneca, Scanpix

© 2013 Eva Krutmeijer and the Swedish Institute The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this publication. Translation: Stephen Croall

42–43 LUCAS 44–45 Scanpix, The Human Protein Atlas 46–47 Scanpix, Heyrobics, Friskis&Svettis 48

Mats Bäcker

Graphic design: Fidelity Editor: Emma Randecker Proofreader: Paul Eade Font: Satura (headlines), created by Göran Söderström and Peter Bruhn; and Indigo (body text), created by Johan Ström Paper: 250 MultiArt Matt (cover), 150 MultiArt Matt (inside) Printed in Sweden: Edita Västra Aros AB, Västerås, 2013 ISBN: 978-91-86995-23-2


Si_Inlaga7 rob.indd 48

2013-12-03 09.01

QUICK FACTS ABOUT SWEDEN Capital: Stockholm Language: Swedish; English widely spoken Form of government: Constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy Currency: SEK (1 krona=100 öre) Land area: 157,000 mi2 (407,000 km2), the fifth largest country in Europe Population: 9.6 million Population density: 61 inhabitants/mi2 (23.5/km2) Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita 2011: SEK 372,800

10 USEFUL LINKS An organization promoting Sweden as a business partner The Swedish government The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences Swedish Incubators & Science Parks Swedish Network for Innovation and Technology Transfer Support Information about higher education in Sweden Sweden’s official website The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth The Swedish Inventors’ Association Sweden’s governmental innovation agency

Transformed from a poor agrarian nation to a highly industrialized country in just over 100 years, Sweden is today one of the world’s innovation leaders. In Innovation the Swedish Way you will meet innovators and entrepreneurs behind some of the latest and most successful innovations. What makes Sweden the land of innovation it is today? Not only is the country home to the largest number of multinational companies per capita, with brands such as IKEA, Ericsson, H&M and Volvo, but it also serves as a base for tomorrow’s emerging industries, including environmental technology, life sciences and ICT. The ball bearing, the pacemaker, Skype and Solvatten are examples of lifechanging and life-saving Swedish innovations. What’s the secret, Sweden?