The roots of the Swedish institute sector stretch back to the turn of the previous century, when many research institutes concentrating on specific industrial segments first saw the light of day.
Starting in the 1960s and over the subsequent 20 years, the sector grew from a handful of research institutes to just over 30. Companies and organisations from various industrial and materials sectors owned their own institutes, with the majority managed in the form of foundations.
These relatively small institutes slowly diminished in power, as the priorities of research policy gradually shifted Government financing increasingly in the direction of academia. The institutes were weakened at a time when international competition for researchers was strengthening. From the mid 1980s onwards, it became a stated policy ambition to strengthen development across the entire sector, including by gathering State-ownership under a single umbrella. This issue was thoroughly examined during the second half of the 1990s.
In 1997, the Government, together with the Knowledge Foundation, established the holding company IRECO Holding AB to gather and manage the State’s ownership interests in industrial research institutes.
In 2002, the concept of the ‘four-leaf clover’ was launched; institutes in related sectors and/or with complementary technologies were to be gathered in four groups. This concept developed to become Innventia, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Swedish ICT and Swerea.
In 2006, a report by Professor Sverker Sörlin highlighting the need for a unified Swedish research institute sector was greeted with considerable interest, increasing the demands of owners for consolidation.
The State acquired full ownership of IRECO Holding in 2007 and, in 2009, its name was changed to RISE Research Institutes of Sweden Holding. In that same year, RISE acquired all of the shares in SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
The State saw enormous potential in a unified institute and, in 2014, opened discussions with stakeholders in Swedish ICT, Innventia and Swerea to investigate the prerequisites for a merger into a single institutional group.
RISE became the sole owner of Innventia and the companies within Swedish ICT in 2016.
In 2018, RISE acquired two thirds of the shares in research group Swerea.