The past year has brought new strategic partnerships, greater focus on climate transition and a major internal change process. RISE’s CEO Pia Sandvik gives a summary.
At the time of writing, the coronavirus pandemic is spreading around the world creating enormous problems for communities and businesses, and of course we are also affected by the situation. Swedish industry and society needs RISE now more than ever. We are taking responsibility for the community, customers, operations and employees by keeping our operations running. We are monitoring our customers’ needs and identifying ways in which we can assist while at the same time protecting the health and safety of our employees and customers.
How would you summarise 2019?
“2019 was an eventful year in which demand for our services continued to be strong, and I believe that RISE is firmly established as a cohesive research institute for Sweden. We fill a gap that existed in the Swedish research and innovation landscape. The company’s sales continue to rise, and currently stand at SEK 3,568 million. We’re also seeing a positive profit trend, with an operating profit of SEK 63 million.
More people are seeking collaboration with us, and we’re seeing that broad groups are familiar with our business. The brand survey conducted during the year confirmed that something has changed. The results show that awareness about us increased from 8% to 45% within the target groups of industry and the public sector. None of the previous institutions’ brands have enjoyed such high recognition.”
We’re in a time when the market is changing in a historically unprecedented way
RISE frequently mentions the need to meet social challenges. Why is this important?
“We’re in a time when the market is changing in a historically unprecedented way. Society is facing major challenges which, as a research institute, we need to meet. There is an urgent need to make the transition to a fossil- free society. With our focus on innovation and applied research, we at RISE can play a crucial role in this regard. We provide the cutting-edge expertise and testbeds needed to succeed in the transition.
But I’m also seeing that we can now take on assignments where we participate in setting agendas for entire industries, thanks to our expertise in various technology and system areas. Such assignments include, for example, leading the construction sector’s efforts to develop a national strategy for a carbon- neutral cement and concrete industry.
We also manage Fossil-free Aviation 2045, an innovation cluster that gathers together all stakeholders involved in the production and use of fossil-free jet fuel.
Our work on developing a national action plan to make Sweden a leader in AI brings together technology leaders from various sectors of society. The fact that RISE has been commissioned, in collaboration with the business community, to develop a roadmap for Swedish industry with a vision of what
technologies need to be developed is a further example of how our breadth and cross-functionality allow important future issues to be tackled with a broad approach.”
How does RISE compare to other research institutes in the market?
“In an international perspective, RISE represents a unique investment in cross-disciplinary research and innovation. We aim to strengthen Sweden's innovation power and secure an edge in the global competition. In connection with the Hannover Messe 2019, the German and Swedish heads of government signed an updated innovation partnership in which RISE is named as a Swedish partner for collaboration regarding testbeds and applied AI. This is proof that we also have the ability to take a leading role in international partnerships.”
The project to create a new testbed for electromobility had a breakthrough during the year. What happened?
“In December, we received the long-awaited news that the EU had approved Sweden's application for funding for the construction of SEEL (Swedish Electric Transport Laboratory), which is owned by RISE and Chalmers. The funding, which amounts to SEK 575 million, will be used to construct a test centre that will be one of the few in Europe that can provide testing of all the parts needed for electrified transport. I look forward to strong collaboration with our industry partners.”
What were the other key issues in 2019?
“During the year, we entered into important cooperation agreements with Stockholm University, Chalmers University of Technology and Luleå University of Technology. This will further strengthen our relations in the areas of research, education and innovation. Overall, it will contribute to broader expertise, more research and innovation projects and stronger competitiveness.
To create an even greater customer focus and increased cross-functional capacity, we have worked intensively on preparing for an organisational restructuring, which took effect on 1 January 2020. The new organisation will give us greater possibilities to work in areas such as systemic perspectives, service development and business development. None of this would be possible without all our committed employees, who have done a fantastic job during the year. I would like to thank everyone at RISE who is working together to create a world-class research institute.”
/Pia Sandvik, CEO, RISE