Your Royal Highness, Mr speaker of the Parliament, Excellences, Honoured Assembly
It is very exciting and a great privilege to stand here as President of the Royal
Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and deliver my first technology speech.
Today’s theme will be entrepreneurship. Not only one of the most important, but
also one of the most beautiful words I know. What does the word “entrepreneur”
mean? The National Encyclopaedia has the following definition:
“An entrepreneur is a person who through concrete action generates new business
activity, by, for example, commercialising a technical innovation or organising the
market in an innovative way.”
In other words: the link we need to turn an idea into a commercial success.
Sweden’s industrial base without doubt originated from an impressive series of
successful entrepreneurs. A few of these from our past are described in this exposé,
which is far from complete, and our biggest corporations can be assigned to the list.
I have chosen this theme because I believe that successful entrepreneurs are
essential if we are to convert knowledge into applications, commercial success and
economic growth. And this is even more important at this time when the economy is
in decline. Without entrepreneurs we are in poor shape. Entrepreneurs are our
Is entrepreneurship a thing of the past? No, I venture to argue that
entrepreneurship is still one of Sweden’s strengths today and there are numerous
prominent individuals to prove this. It’s important for our entrepreneurs to be
heralded as the heroes they are. Our sports stars, such as Zlatan and Peter Forsberg,
are often glorified, but this is not often true of our entrepreneurs. Why is that?
Ingvar Kamprad is, of course, often described as a hero, but in the academic world
entrepreneurship is not considered a qualification in Sweden. In other countries –
and the US is the first to spring to mind – people in academic careers are given
credit for starting a business venture. In Sweden in my experience the opposite is
true – it is actually a negative qualification. We need to do a better job of
recognising our entrepreneurs, regardless of the sphere in which they operate, and
ensure that we encourage and reward them. Entrepreneurship should be taught in
What has been happening in Sweden on the technology front over the past year?
I’m going to reveal lots of news to show the impressive innovative power and
entrepreneurship in our country. And we’ll start in a field where Sweden has a long
tradition of innovation, in one of our major industrial companies. You will see that
entrepreneurship is present there too. Sometimes it’s called “intrapreneurship.”
Let’s get off to a flying start. Here’s the inaugural flight of the new demo Gripen, a
test platform to develop technology for new and existing aircraft. It’s loaded with
new technology, like a brand new radar that electronically scans the area and can
see several targets at precisely the same time. The engine is stronger, and systems
for flight data and tactical functions are more flexible. The landing gear has been
moved out towards the wings, making room for more cargo and bigger tanks, and a
longer range. And the pilot is satisfied.
A lot is happening in aviation. The EU is launching its single largest research initiative
ever to develop technology for more eco-friendly aircraft. The Clean Sky will be
launched this year with flight demonstrations planned for around 2013. And Sweden
Saab is taking part in two of six projects. This is what the smart wing that Saab is
developing with Airbus looks like. It reduces both air resistance and fuel
consumption. The wings are thin making it possible to have built-in systems that
control airflow over the wing without increasing its weight. The brush sticking out of
the engines at the back is fan blades on the engines developed by Volvo Aero. It’s a
brand new type where rotating structures hold the fan blades and enable the engine
to be run faster, while the air is pushed backwards more slowly. This saves fuel.
The single largest Swedish academic research project is, however, in the field of life
Here biotech entrepreneur Mattias Uhlén has started a giant project to show where
all of our proteins are in the body. You remember this project from the speech two
years ago – well, here’s an update.
Today 90 Swedish researchers and 15 physicians are working in India on the project
and they are making great progress. Ten new proteins a day are being mapped, 25
per cent of 20,400 proteins are have already been mapped. At this pace it will only
take two years until we know where in the body half of our proteins are located.
And in just six years the process will be complete. It will be a goldmine for medical
researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Now the project’s researchers have
started to look in more detail at where the proteins are located in the cells with the
help of confocal microscopes and dyes. This is what they are doing:
They dye the nucleus blue, the cytoskeleton that shows the cell’s structure turns
red, the vacuoles turn yellow and the specific protein is dyed green. This particular
protein is present in the entire cell.
Here is another example. In this cell the protein they are looking for is on the surface
of the cell, like little green feet. From here it comes into contact with other cells.
What surprised the researchers the most during their work is that almost all
proteins are everywhere, but they are present in different amounts in different cells.
And the relative levels are changed to change the function. This is why we are no
longer looking for an individual protein to define a disease. Instead we are looking at
the changes in the levels of a number of proteins.
This is what they are doing in Lund, where entrepreneur Carl Borrebaeck is
developing methods to diagnose different types of cancer with great precision. The
test is being carried out in micromatrices...
… here is one being constructed. Small drops of so-called antibodies come out of each
little glass tube. They bind firmly to specific proteins so that it is possible to measure how
much of these are in the blood.
A microlitre of blood is all that is needed – much less than a drop. When the sample binds
to the micromatrix a specific pattern is formed…
… you can see this clearly here where they have compiled the results from numerous
individuals and looked for several proteins in each individual. A red column shows there
is a lot of a certain protein, green means there is only a little.
This is the pattern from a healthy person. But it looks completely different when a person
has cancer. The differences in the patterns show with great certainty that a patient has
pancreatic cancer. The method is now being developed to find breast and prostate
cancer as well as leukaemia.
Understanding proteins may also give us new ideas about treatments for Alzheimer’s,
which is an important area now in pharmaceutical research. This artificial blue/cyan blue
protein molecule is preventing the red parts of the protein in the brain from clumping
together to form toxic clumps making the person ill – something scientists have being
trying to prevent for years. The discovery has attracted international attention and the
scientists behind it are from the Sahlgrenska Academy, the Royal Institute of Technology
and the Swedish biotech company Affibody…
… and the small Swedish pharmaceutical companies conducting research are making
progress, as this report shows. Sweden has the most biotech companies per capita
in the world, and in a market where securing financing is difficult, it’s important for
companies to move their projects further and further forward in the development
76 drugs have now reached the human testing phase. That is eleven more than last
year and about as many as the global corporation Astra Zeneca has. Fifteen drugs
are now being tested in phase III, the final major clinical study before they can be
registered as pharmaceuticals ready for the market. These figures are from May.
And since then the companies have made even more progress. In August, for
example, Karo Bio’s test drug Eprotirome was ready for phase III studies. This drug
reduces the levels of several harmful fats in the blood and here we can see how it
works. The orange balls show the compounds that bind to the grey receptor in the
nucleus, which reduces the amount of fat in the blood.
Most of the fat, however, gathers in fat cells like these. And it’s not that easy to get
rid of them, because new ones are constantly forming when the old ones die, as
scientists from Karonlinska Institute show us. Ten per cent of the cells are replaced
every year, but the number is constant in every adult no matter how much we diet.
The size of the cell, however, does change.
And now to Linköping where a company called Bio Optico is developing technology
to examine damaged knees. This is what it might look like. The red parts are thinner
and the white parts thicker cartilage. The picture is made clearer with the Linköping
company’s software. Where the picture is red the cartilage is gone, where it is grey
it is entirely in tact. The surgeon can also calculate how much tissue is gone and
assess how the damage can be repaired.
IT can be used for a lot of things.
... like watching TV. Because now IP-TV is having a major breakthrough. Since last
year the number of online TV subscriptions has doubled in Europe. And transfer via
broadband, interactive and connected to TVs, computers and mobile phones is
Ericsson’s biggest growth area. They expect that in five years half of all traffic in
telephony networks will be various forms of IP-TV.
And Ericsson is demonstrating its multimedia technology during the Volvo Ocean
Race that will cross the finish line next June. Ericsson has two almost identical
carbon fibre yachts in the race.
This is what it looked like earlier in the year when one of the yachts was leaving the
boatyard in Kista on its way to Frihamnen and then on to training and the start of
the race in Spain.
Now you can follow the competition on your mobile phone. A crew member from
each yacht is communicating with the outside world with broadband via satellite.
You can log on to a mobile portal via the Internet on your phone to watch video or
news clips from the yachts.
But five of the world’s seven billion people still don’t have the Internet. In extremely
sparsely populated areas, like large parts of our mountain ranges, neither ADSL,
satellite nor 3G do work. Researchers in Luleå are currently developing a technology
that will enable us to surf and send e-mail almost anywhere. The information is sent
in packets via portable nodes – a node could even be placed in a hiker’s backpack.
These portable nodes could be laptops or mobile phones that have special software
enabling them to pick up the information packet and forward it to the next portable
node. When the packet reaches an Internet connection the information is
forwarded online. It’s called delay-tolerant network technology and is currently
being tested here in the beautiful Lapland village of Sirgis in the Sarek National Park.
And with a good connection we want powerful and fast, high-performance
computers. The problem with these is that the processors can overheat. One
solution is multi-core processors that will soon be in every computer. But we will
face other challenges, such as the fact that today’s software is not adapted to the
These innovators at Nema Labs are solving that problem with an algorithm that
makes it easier to write software for multi-core processors. Their product will be
launched at the beginning of next year.
Smoltek has another alternative to avoid overheating processors; carbon nanofibres
that can replace today’s copper wire. They can be produced in a controlled way.
Small nickel beads are placed on a metal plate. When a cloud of acetylen gas passes
over the plate the carbon in the gas sticks to the nickel beads and carbon nanofibres
start to form. They are packed into an insulating layer and are bound to a new piece
of metal. This is how current can be conducted through carbon nanofibres, for
example, in a processor. And the heat is conducted away from the heat sources.
New types of transistors can also reduce the temperature, like this nano-sized one
from researchers in Lund. If they are made from indium arsenide instead of silicon
like they are today, the electrons move faster, fewer are needed and it doesn’t get
as hot. At the bottom of the photo you will see the actual circuit breaker that
switches the current on and off, like a hose clamp.
And computer screens can be used innovatively as well, like in the mirror Delay
Mirror. Using software that processes an image in realtime, the mirror shows you
what you looked like three seconds ago. Here the mirror is being used by the British
fashion chain New Look which has installed three of them at its flagship shop in
Birmingham. It can be used to capture a moment at a dance, in martial arts or in
body building. Or when practicing your golf swing. An application can also be an
Here IR lights have been built into screens and are reflected in a person’s eyes. A
camera takes pictures of reflexes and, using advanced algorithms, it is possible to
calculate where the person was looking on the screen. And this solves an important
problem. People who cannot speak or use their hands can use their eyes to
communicate through the computer.
Here are the three entrepreneurs behind this. Their company, Tobii in Stockholm,
has become a world leader in reading eye movements. Its growth is huge. This year
it will also be available in the US and Japan, and new applications are emerging as
By reading eye movements, researchers can learn more about how infants develop,
for example, when they start predicting events. The blue spots show the baby’s gaze
following the woman who is placing balls in a container. At the second attempt the
baby has already worked out where the balls are going. The baby’s gaze is ahead of
the ball and already on the container.
Or here, where researchers in the Bergvik shopping centre in Karlstad are using the
technology to study the types of packaging that catch a customer’s eye. They look
longer at bright red. This is helping the forest industry understand how to create
Innovations from Swetree Technologies can promote better growth in the forests.
These millimetre-sized plants have been cloned using their own automated method.
The company’s fertilizer makes the plants grow 25 per cent more.
And they also know of numerous genes that can increase tree growth so that we can
have fast-growing Swedish eucalyptus trees, also called poplars. It hasn’t been easy
to convince the forest industry about the value of this knowledge, but now
Sveaskog, Bergviks Skog and Holmen are all shareholders. And Stora Enso is joining
them this year. There are around 40 entrepreneurs behind Swetree and they have
gathered their patents under the umbrella of a company called Woodheads.
The forest also gives us nanopaper that is stronger than cast iron. Using enzymes
and grinding processes, researchers at KTH and STFI Packforsk have separated pulp
fibres so that they are 1,000 times smaller than in normal paper and twice as strong
as the previous record for paper. An innovation that has attracted a lot of attention.
The paper can also be made completely waterproof, like this bag. A company called
Organoklick is behind this. It’s one of many small companies to have emerged in
recent years from the chemical research community at the Arrhenius Lab at
Stockholm University. Entrepreneurial activity there has really picked up speed....
.... another new venture there is Xbrane Biosciences which has a method for
producing these difficult membrane proteins ten times more efficiently than they
are produced today. This is of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry, which
wants them to develop new drugs. This is how they can work. This membrane
protein is a water channel that opens up and allows the yellow water molecules to
This extremely tough glass also comes from chemical research at Stockholm
University. It was first created as the result of a mistake when a researcher was
producing a material and the oven broke down so that it cooled down rapidly. Soon
there was a new production method to make a ceramic composite material with
unique properties for rollers in roller bearings, and a company called Diamorph...
... whose latest innovation is a new biomaterial for knee implants. It has one side
that is biocompatible and one that is hard-wearing. The broken cartilage is replaced
in a laparoscopic procedure, almost like filling a dental cavity. The material fuses
with the knee and the patient makes a speedy recovery, according to the
researchers behind the innovation.
We have more chemistry news.
Super slippery surfaces are an innovation from researchers in Stockholm who have
shown that attraction between two surfaces can be converted into repulsion when
there is liquid between the surfaces.
The friction between a particle and the surface it rests on is measured using a laser
under an extremely sensitive nuclear microscope.
But when a particle of gold meets a surface of Teflon in the right liquid, the friction
is so small that it can’t be measured. And less friction means we save energy and
materials. Slippery surfaces like these can be used, for example, in a wind power
turbine or a hip implant.
Chemistry has many uses, such as opening hard-to-open packaging like this one. We
always end up using scissors, don’t we? This is an innovation from Stora Enso based
on electrochemistry. A small electrical current is passed through a conductive
adhesive which is then released from the surface in a matter of seconds. It’s ready
A group of researchers at the Ångström Lab in Uppsala have built a lithium ion
battery with a new cathode material. They have used iron and silicon instead of
cobalt which is used today, and the result is batteries with higher capacity. And
these new batteries are needed, especially for the hybrid vehicles that are now
being widely produced...
Volvo’s hybrid refuse truck is being tested in Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, and
in Gothenburg, where this one is rolling quietly through a residential area. The
refuse truck has a diesel engine and an electric engine used for ignition and
acceleration up to 20 km/h. You can see the orange box behind the front wheel. This
is the hybrid package including lithium ion batteries that recharge when the brakes
are engaged. Next year it will go into large-scale production.
There’s a strong entrepreneurial side to the transportation industry, driven by the
goal to reduce emissions.
In London the double-deckers are going hybrid. Here’s one of the six Volvo hybrid
buses that will be tested there in a year. Their diesel and electric engines will save
fuel and keep London’s air cleaner.
And when asphalt has this structure we can also reduce noise. Quiet asphalt is being
laid in a new district under construction next to the heavily trafficked E18 between
Solna and Sundbyberg. It binds particles from the traffic and reduces noise by up to
nine decibels. That’s a lot. Will this innovation be able quieten our Essingeleden
motorway as well?
Perhaps we should present this at World Expo Shanghai 2010 where the theme is
urban environments: “Better city, better life.”
Or why not show this amphibious car, an eco-friendly alternative from the students
at the Royal Institute of Technology and the University College of Arts, Crafts and
Design. On a test drive it was two hours faster than a normal car on the stretch from
the centre of Stockholm to Nacka, even though the amphibious car’s maximum
speed on land is only 45 km/hour. It takes the most direct route over land and water
and is powered by an electric engine. It would be exciting to see a fleet of these in
Stockholm’s morning rush hour.
Rechargeable electric vehicles will put pressure on our power grid. And now we
are getting a more robust electricity system in southern Sweden …
… because Svenska Kraftnät has decided which technology to use to build the
Sydvästlänken (Southwest link). Underground cables will be laid for new direct
current (DC) technology from Jönköping to Skåne. And a DC cable will be laid to the
Oslo area. And a new alternating current (AC) wire from northern Närke to
Who is going to build the link? Perhaps ABB which has developed HVDC Light
technology to transmit electricity. Here a ground cable is being laid in Germany.
For really big bulk power transmission, HVDC Classic is used. At the test facility in
Ludvika they have developed the technology to make it possible to send large
quantities of electric power over long distances with lower energy losses than in the
past. This is of interest to the Chinese who are expanding their power grid. The first
order was received from them in December.
Now ABB is involved in building the world’s longest power link in China and has
delivered two power converter stations. Here again we see entrepreneurship at
work in a big corporation.
… and what about Sandvik which is coming up with innovations in the materials
… their new cemented carbide is harder, more durable and has finer material
structures than in the past. It can be used to make tools with complex geometry and
sharp cutting edges. Sandvik has also produced an entirely new kind of stainless
steel for cables in harsh environments, such as oil rigs. It has a stable structure that
is resistant to harsh corrosion.
So is Höganäs’ new steel for car engines that can tolerate today’s corrosive fuels
that are particularly tough on valves. They compress metal powder to obtain a
Rymdbolaget, which launched an experimental rocket 252 kilometres up into space
from Esrange Space Center outside Kiruna, knows how to make lightweight
After six minutes of weightlessness the test modules landed with the help of
parachutes in the mountains. Notice that there is still snow on the ground in May. In
an experiment inside the rocket we can see a piece of metal that is quickly heated,
melts and becomes foam in a weightless environment. The X-ray images show a
homogeneous structure, unaffected by gravity, which here on Earth has larger pores
higher up and smaller ones further down in a sample. Now it is being cooled rapidly
and becomes hard again. This teaches us more about how to make lighter and
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg are coming up
with innovations at the nano level. They have discovered a way to get nano particles
to organise themselves in special structures, like here in piles. The researchers
started with a layer of disordered gold and silver nano particles on a nanometre
thick membrane that was subjected to a single laser pulse.
Then the known optical phenomenon called plasmon resonance occurs, where hot
and cold zones get metal particles to melt and move in a specific pattern. Now the
researchers can control the patterns by, for example, varying the wavelength of the
And now let’s scale up…
… because metal mining has become popular again. Last year new mining
entrepreneurs obtained permits to mine gold and silver in four new mines, all in
Västerbotten. We’ll see how well their plans succeed with today’s financial turmoil.
We can always reuse metals like Stena Aluminium, which is melting aluminium parts
from cars, buildings, furniture etc. into liquid metal. This is delivered in giant
thermoses to customers who then just draw off just the amount of liquid aluminium
they need. It’s easier than casting bars and then melting them down again. And
saves both energy and furnaces. Because we need to save our resources....
Water treatment/Environmental technology
… like in Orange County, California, where they are building the world’s largest
groundwater replenishment plant. They won the Stockholm Industry Water Award
this year for their efforts. IVA is one of the founders of this award. Instead of
discharging treated sewer water into the ocean, they are putting it through a multi-
stage purification process.
So that it can become drinking water again. It wasn’t easy convincing the public to
accept the idea of drinking treated sewer water. Opponents campaigned using the
slogan: “From toilet to tap.” But now the system has become a model that is being
emulated in places like Singapore.
Or we can extract drinking water from the air. These Swedish technology students
and students from Stanford University have together developed a machine that runs
on solar cells and can extract water from the air. Something for people in the Third
World. The water machine is a project within PIEp, a national research programme
with a mission to increase the innovative power of individuals and organisations.
Several universities, organisations and companies are participating.
... because companies are keen to collaborate with researchers. Eight out of ten
CEOs in industrial companies believe that collaboration with researchers increases
competitiveness. Almost half are already working with academia. These are results
from a new study carried out by the IVA project Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public and
Science) in which 300 heads of industrial companies were interviewed. The study
will be published on 5 November.
And there’s good news from the educational field…
It has become popular to become an engineer. The number of applicants to Masters
programmes in engineering has increased this year for the first time in many years.
But the applicant pool is far from being large enough. The Technology Delegation,
which was formed in October, intends to encourage more people to become
engineers. Because technology is exciting.
Like in Cern where the particle accelerator is now in up and running. The first beam
of protons has been sent through this 27 kilometre accelerator. Soon, when they
have fixed the leak that spoiled the first experiment, the proton beams will collide at
predetermined locations creating new particles that the scientists can study to
understand, among other things, how the universe was created. The experiment
had some people around the world a bit worried. Will the Earth be sucked into a big
black hole? The Cern researchers explain everything here:
Who said researchers are boring? The film is a success; 3.6 million people have
About fifty Swedish researchers have been working on the experiment. Sweden is a
prominent research nation. And we are number one in the world in innovation. This
report proves it. It was published in February by the European Commission which
reports every year on innovation in the EU and a few other nations. The World
Champion in innovation is Sweden. Our “Innovation Score” puts us in a class of our
own. We stand out and have our own green colour in the analysis. This has been the
case for many years. But there are things we could improve.
The same report shows that our ability to commercialise these innovations is not as
strong. Here Sweden is actually mediocre. That’s the Swedish innovation paradox.
The World Champion in innovations that have come to nothing. Is it that bad? No,
we shouldn’t paint the picture black. The parameters for these conclusions are
complex. But we should not neglect the problem. Instead we need to accept that we
can do better and get more out of our research; more applications, new enterprise,
new investments, new jobs and growth. It’s time to get rid of the Swedish
Perhaps we took a big step in this direction with yesterday’s research bill. This is
good news for research. The Government has honoured its promise to increase
resources for research – an increase of five billion over the next few years. This may
be only a third of the amount that IVA and the Globalisation Council among others
recommended in order for Sweden to stay at the forefront, but it is a significant
increase on previous bills, and the biggest increase will come as soon as next year.
Worthy of applause.
And it’s important that the resources now being invested in research are distributed
and coordinated in a way that is helpful. Investments in early research do not
automatically lead to innovation and increased economic growth, although it is
important to safeguard high-quality basic research. What we need now is an even
more clearly defined prioritisation of our research resources including a focus on
strong basic research, stronger universities and application research to meet our
needs in industry and society in general. To achieve this, we need stronger control
of research policy. Coordination and prioritisation require dialogue. Why not set up
a Research and Innovation Policy Council chaired by the Prime Minister, like Esko
Aho did in Finland 21 years ago?
And so we come back to the entrepreneurs, my heroes. And hopefully yours too.
Let’s encourage our entrepreneurs. Let’s recognise them. Let them be role models
for our youth. Then everything else will fall into place. Because we are very clever
and inventive in Sweden – I hope this year’s technology speech has shown that.