7 mai 2019 |
By Simon Carroll
Like Canadians, Swedes are natural innovators. When faced with challenges like a shifting global economy, the threat of climate change or the rapidly evolving landscape of modern national defence – both countries adapt and innovate based on evidence, reason and shared progressive values.
This is so much the case that Swedish and Canadian governments are both actively implementing innovation agendas intended not only to grow their respective high-tech and aerospace industries (among others) from the inside-out, but to help them access and leverage the very best global talent and expertise in these fields. Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan, for instance, seeks to encourage greater business investments in research and to capitalize on Canadian inventions through “shared risk taking and partnerships”.
The more Canada and Sweden build and use these partnerships to innovate together, the stronger both countries will be, now and in the future. At Saab, we believe opportunities to develop and grow partnerships with Canadian government and industry are not only a ‘good fit' – we believe these opportunities will help actualize Canada's ambitious innovation vision for decades to come.
In large part, Swedish companies are well-positioned to help Canada reach its innovation goals because innovation is inherent in their DNA. Sweden is consistently judged one of the world's most innovative countries by the annual Bloomberg Innovation Index, which placed Sweden second in 2018 (behind South Korea and ahead of Singapore, Germany and Switzerland), and by the World Intellectual Property Organization's Global Innovation Index, which ranks Sweden among the top three countries.
This level of recognition is well-earned. Swedes are early adopters of new technologies, are highly trend-sensitive and, collectively, produce one per cent of the world's knowledge while constituting less than one-thousandth of the world's population. The Swedish government formalized this innovative spirit in 2001 when it created the national Innovation Agency, Vinnova – one of the first of its kind in the world.
Of course, Sweden has long been home to a suite of classically innovative and instantly-recognizable brands like Volvo, Ikea, and Ericsson, but its government's exceptional focus on innovation in recent decades has grown this small but mighty nation's startup hub into a full-blown entrepreneurial powerhouse. By no coincidence, Sweden has produced more “$100 million-plus IPO exits” than any other country in the world, with examples including popular music streaming platform Spotify and the financial technology company iZettle.
Having research-intensive companies, such as Saab, is yet another reason Sweden does so well in global innovation rankings. The majority of Saab's people are trained engineers and around 23 per cent of its total revenues are spent on research and development (R&D) every year. That's a lot compared with other companies, but it's what it takes to think ahead and develop products and solutions with future capabilities in mind.
The Swedish approach to future technology generation is one that actively combines government- and university-based research and development capabilities with those of industry to solve common problems and to develop new, unique solutions. Harnessing the unique talents and energy contributed by each of these spheres builds a strong engine for innovative thinking and new technology development – all of which is central to Saab's corporate ethos.
Saab Canada is already an extensive supplier of military equipment to the Canadian Armed Forces – from radars and sensors for the Royal Canadian Navy to ground combat weapons and signature management systems for the Canadian Army – as well as supplying transponders to the Canadian Coast Guard and maritime traffic management systems to the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority.
Saab is also partnered with many small, medium and large-sized Canadian companies up and down its supply chain, across all of its product areas from Nova Scotia-based MilAero for electrical cable assemblies, to Bombardier with its Global 6000 business jet used for GlobalEye, an airborne early warning and control solution. As a contender for Canada's future fighter jet program, Saab's ‘future-proof' Gripen E aircraft presents even greater opportunities for collaboration and development activities between the military and aerospace sectors of both countries.
These kinds of partnerships mean that Canadian companies not only benefit from Saab's innovative thinking, but are also empowered to further develop their own, Canadian-made innovations that can then be exported worldwide – generating economic benefits right here in Canada.
Looking to the future, Saab will continue working closely with our Canadian partners to pursue opportunities here and abroad, where we can build on existing collaboration and continue to strengthen the innovation that runs deep in our respective countries.