Help businesses to renew themselves. Accelerate the transition. Get the public sector to partner with business to resolve common challenges. Internationally competitive. The mandate assigned to RISE is no small undertaking, and the institute’s 2,800 researchers and other employees work every day to realise it.
RISE’s mandate is drafted by the Swedish government in its research bill, and very clearly so. If Sweden’s private and public sector are to be to the fore, then sustainability is key.
– “I believe that all aspects of sustainability are incorporated in all our activities. And this makes it all the more rewarding when the transition to sustainable growth so often goes hand in hand with strengthening an industry’s competitiveness. Consider, say, the automotive industry. Without electrification, there is no future, but when the Swedish industry is at the forefront of electrification, you also see cars and components experiencing much greater demand than before,” says Pia Sandvik, CEO of RISE.
The Swedish government’s latest research bill also underlines the need for a system approach to sustainability matters.
– “Far too often, we’ve taken a fragmented approach to sustainability. So, while we’ve reduced the footprint in one area, resource use and emissions have increased in another instead. Our research-based knowledge enables us to help companies to see how one particular action affects the whole. When the conflicts arising from different goals are revealed, it’s easier to make the right decisions.”
RISE receives twenty percent of its basic funding from the Swedish state, and these funds are continuously invested in ensuring that the institute has researchers with the necessary knowledge to meet the challenges faced by society. Half of the funding is received from Swedish industry, which is to see its competitiveness strengthened when working together with RISE to develop novel solutions or optimise production techniques.
– “However, this doesn’t mean that we simply deliver what Swedish industry requests, as they have made very clear that we are to be proactive as well. When we see a need for change, we don’t simply wait for an order. Instead, we gather the necessary stakeholders and get the job done, whether it concerns climate issues, digitalisation or reducing vulnerability,” says Pia Sandvik.
– “Naturally, we work a great deal with all the major Swedish companies, but what many people don’t know is that more than a third of our assignments are received from small and medium-sized enterprises. We often come into contact with them during work with certification and standards, or when they can benefit from our many testbeds. Then we can tailor initiatives offering support within new production methods, staff training or innovation. Smaller businesses often lack the capital required for development, but together we can look for funding, such as from the EU.”
RISE could be involved in taking greater overall responsibility in areas where society needs to transition together
Another area where RISE works is in the public sector. The major challenges society currently faces are all characterised by the need for greater joint action by various stakeholders.
– “If we’re to be a world leader in the climate transition, the structures and regulations established by the state cannot run counter to such change. Innovation might not have been the most prioritised area in the public sector, but when we work with civil servants and decision-makers, we see great interest in fields such as governance innovation. Together with several county administrative boards, RISE is working to improve permit processes. This can mean faster or digitalised processing, but it can also mean better clarifying the requirements for applications so that a company doesn’t wait several years for a decision only to be told that further documentation or consultation is required,” Pia Sandvik explains.
RISE also works with cities to realise climate agreements or other goals. RISE can then act as a sounding board, helping to identify what needs to be done and how new collaborative interfaces can be created between the private and public sectors.
– “In Skellefteå, we’re involved in running the Arctic Center of Energy, which will meet the need for talent management arising from the massive investments in sustainable solutions being made in the region. We’re using VR technology that we previously developed together with and for the automotive industry in Västra Götaland for skills development of the workforce in a completely different sector.”
– “Talent management is one of many areas clearly lacking a stakeholder with distinct overall responsibility. The universities are doing their part, and they’re doing it well, but the existing systems do not support lifelong learning. The situation is the same in other fields, such as fossil-free solutions and energy supply. Each stakeholder does their part well, but there’s a need for someone to try to grasp the bigger picture. RISE is well acquainted with Swedish industry, we’re accustomed to change processes and we often have the deepest technical knowledge. Looking to the future, I believe RISE could be involved in taking greater overall responsibility in areas where society needs to transition together,” says Pia Sandvik.