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Access to tomorrow’s technology – A matter of competitiveness for Swedish industry

Which critical technologies will Swedish industry need to install and recruit skills for over the coming decades? RISE intends to answer this question by collaborating with industry to develop a roadmap for new technologies. This roadmap will be completed by the end of the year.

“We will prepare a vision for how industry will be working in the future and which technologies need to be developed in order to achieve this,” says Stig Larsson, who is managing the project together with Ulrika Harlin.

The assignment comes from the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries and Vinnova. A number of industrial companies have signed up to the project’s reference group, among others ABB, AB Volvo, Ericsson, Scania and Volvo Cars. Several workshops have been conducted during the spring 2019 in order to map the needs of Swedish industry. These have since been prioritised by a steering committee with strong representation from those industries whose technologies the roadmap will focus on, including 5G, AI, humanoid robots, digital twins and new multifunctional materials.

Based on the visions and future scenarios of the industries concerned, the roadmap will identify critical technologies, basic and applied research needs, technologies that companies will need to install and skills they will need to recruit.

“One example is the challenge that industries are facing in recruiting maintenance technicians. The need for maintenance technicians will increase over the coming years as machines become increasingly advanced and yet far too few are being trained. By using machine learning and artificial intelligence, we will be able to predict when and how a machine will break down; hopefully, we will then be able to cope with maintenance with fewer technicians,” says Stig Larsson.

The project will also lay the foundations for a common roadmap process, identify new and effective forms of knowledge dissemination between companies and between academia and industry and develop existing platforms to facilitate collaboration between major corporations, small and medium-sized businesses and startups.

During this work, the project will document its working methods so that once the project is complete Swedish industry will be able to continue to develop the roadmap so that it remains relevant.

“This project on tomorrow’s technology is certainly timely. Swedish industry is now taking the step into what is known as the fourth industrial revolution, in which new technologies are upending traditional processes. In this situation, knowledge of technological development is crucial to the competitiveness of Swedish industry,” says Klas Wåhlberg, CEO of the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries.