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The sustainability aspect creates possibilities for industry

In the years to come, there will be big changes within the industry sector. Together with industry – RISE has developed a roadmap to pinpoint technologies that will become important as possibility agents. Digitalisation, AI and new technologies enables better efficiency, analysis and optimisation. Old processes are challenged and knowledge about the technical development will form a base for Swedish competitiveness. But the most important industry question of all is the sustainability issue and how to profit from sustainability aspects.

Sweden is considered one of the most innovative and knowledge concentrated countries in the world, and the Swedish business sector includes a number of big international and successful industrial companies. Although, despite a great deal of knowledge and focus, Sweden and Europe are starting to lag behind nations like The USA and China, in certain areas like for example the testing of 5G. 

– We have all the knowledge and technology for 5G in Sweden, but we need to use it. Also, for example, we have many great research teams on AI, but we cannot manage to disseminate this knowledge into the industry where it can make a big difference, says Stig Larsson, acting unit manager in Automation and efficiency at RISE. 

The sustainability issue – a possibility for new business models.

On behalf of Teknikföretagen and Vinnova, RISE has provided a roadmap proposal for industry, with the aim to secure Swedish future competitiveness. The project started with performing a large quantity of interviews and workshops with representatives from industry and academia. 

– The technological development in industry is important, but another crucial aspect is also the knowledge of how to deal with change and the human role in combination with machines. Right now, the most important question in industry is how to transition to become more sustainable. A lot has happened in this area just during the recent year of 2019 and today there is an understanding and a high ambition. The sustainability aspect is not seen as a problem but rather as a possibility for new types of business models and innovations, says Stig Larsson. 

– Today, sustainability permeates the whole industry sector. If many companies previously looked at it as a burden for its operations there are now all the more that sees business opportunities, says Per-Olof Sjöberg, Manager for the business and innovations area of digitalisation at RISE. 

We must focus on certain areas and become really good at them.

A shift in responsibility

Digitalisation of industry is enabled by AI and analysis, among other things. It has transformed companies that previously were selling products to now be providers of services.  

– We are seeing a shift, from selling ball-bearings to selling reliable rotation, or from elements to room temperature. The responsibility has shifted from the buyer to the seller which supports efficiency thinking and circular economy models. It can include all from sharing economy to using rest products in new ecosystems, says Per-Olof Sjöberg. 

– When the seller is responsible, it creates a need for more efficiency. Safer deliveries and longer lifespan become more important. A producer of refrigerators that sell 5 degrees plus Celsius instead of just a product ensure that the it lasts longer and will make the refrigerators smart by introducing AI to optimise temperature. With AI a refrigerator can predict when temperature will go up or down and when electricity is cheapest. If the cooling is cheaper at night the temperature can be lowered more during nighttime and set itself to 5 plus during the day, says Stig Larsson.

Traceability, new materials and collaboration

Traceability and new materials in industry is also becoming more important parts of a sustainability mindset. 

– It is about traceability in many different kinds of materials, such as metals and food, says Per-Olof Sjöberg.

– Something we have noticed more of is the focus on materials technology and of how to use new materials to replace oil-based materials such as plastics, says Stig Larsson.

Collaboration is becoming more important, both across borders, in the EU, and in clusters where several small companies join together to share knowledge and technology.

–  The big corporations are good at international collaborations, but the small and medium sized companies are good at innovation. By joint investments, smaller companies may have access to new areas and new knowledge. The USA is better at this sort of collaboration, but we are starting to see tendencies in Europe as well, tells Stig Larsson. 

Invest in our own future

Sweden is at the forefront, when it comes to innovation and is, according to a Bloomberg survey, even the world’s fifth most innovative country, and top-of-the-class in the Nordics – but we do depend on other countries. 

– We must concentrate on certain areas and become really good at them. We need, for example, continue to focus on complex systems and technologies. Although we already invest big in AI and cybersecurity, we need to become even better within these areas. We must stay alert and invest in our own future, finished Per-Olof Sjöberg.

The launch of the roadmap for industry, May 6 2020 (in Swedish)

Per-Olof Sjöberg

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Per-Olof Sjöberg


+46 70 519 04 91

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