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Sweden and India in technology collaboration

Sweden has entered a partnership with India that will include joint work on smart city and mobility technologies

Sweden has set its sights on increasing exports to Asia in agreement with India. The Joint Innovation Partnership (JIP) places eMobility and smart cities as two of the main areas of collaboration.

Sweden’s minister for enterprise and innovation (MEI) will have overall responsibility for the development of JIP on the Swedish side, and it will work in close cooperation with the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology.

The benchmark in trade strategy is aimed at driving exports to the rapidly growing Asia region. The agreement was signed during a trade mission headed by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Stockholm in April.

The JIP has the potential to deepen the collaboration between Sweden and India in an unprecedented way. In particular, the industrial dimension of the agreement focuses on creating added-value business opportunities for Swedish corporations. This raises the prospect of technology companies like Ericsson, Electrolux and Saab pursuing capital projects in India.   

“We live in a world where technology is becoming the norm for change, in society and in industry. Our innovation partnership with India will strengthen our exchange with one of the world's most important emerging economies,” said Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s minister for enterprise and innovation.

The core emphasis running through the agreement is to use JIP to develop long-term partnerships based on the three main principles of co-funding, co-development and co-creation.

The primary technology-focus areas identified for collaboration include eMobility, smart cities, clean technologies, space and aeronautics.

Read more about smart cities

The JIP establishes a common investment framework under which the Swedish and Indian governments can cooperate to support innovative start-ups, including through exchanges between incubators. This area of cooperation will see both countries scale-up their collaboration in respect of research infrastructure and test beds.

Vinnova, the state-run agency responsible for innovation, has been tasked with identifying project areas within the smart cities’ domain. The underlining goal is to identify smart city knowledge, technologies and ongoing advanced-stage research in Sweden that can be transferred to India in a cost-efficient way. The government has allocated project start-up funding to Vinnova of SEK 50m to initiate the first phase.

“We are looking to make a real impact with this agreement. Sweden’s knowledge-intensive companies have the capacity to spread sustainable technology and develop green solutions together with nations like India. We are engaging in a process that can deliver societal change in a very positive way,” said Peter Eriksson, Sweden’s minister for housing and digital development.

The full range of the collaborative areas identified in the JIP hold great potential for Sweden’s IT/digital and communications technologies sectors. The JIP will create large-scale partnership opportunities for Swedish companies within niche areas such as smart grids, digitisation, IT/digital in advanced manufacturing, as well as healthcare, life sciences and bio-medical devices.

The practical implementation of the objectives agreed under the JIP will result in Sweden and India establishing Partnership Development Activities (PDA) in the identified areas earmarked for collaboration.

This agreed operating cooperation structure is designed to allow optimum information dissemination. It will also enable active networking of key research agencies, industry players, enterprises, R&D institutions and other funding agencies in order to identify common targets and develop joint projects. Both countries envisage the PDA will lead to an incubator exchange programme for Swedish and Indian start-ups, including incubator managers.

Innovation-led technology

On the basis of pure innovation-led technology, Sweden has traditionally stood as the Nordic country with the strongest industrial-technological presence.

While Finland and Denmark produced high-profile global consumer brands like Lego, Bang & Olufsen, Fiskars, Artek and Marimekko, at the industrial technology end of the spectrum Sweden has turned out international brand heavyweights such as Saab, Volvo, Ikea, Elecrolux and Ericsson.

For Sweden, technology and innovation have been closely linked to a deep-rooted research and development culture. According to the most recent Eurostat figures for 2016, Sweden ranks as Europe’s top spender on R&D. The country invested 3.3% of GDP in to R&D in 2016.

By contrast, Britain invested 1.67% of its GDP on R&D in the same year. The Swedish level of spend is all the more impressive when compared to the EU-wide target of attaining a 3 % GDP investment in R&D by 2020.

Together, Sweden’s industrial and industrial services sectors are responsible for 20% the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). These two sectors alone account for 77% of the total value of exports, which is equivalent to almost half of Sweden’s total GDP.

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