Representatives from the Swedish Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Climate and Enterprise, and the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova converged in Linköping on October 4 to meet the innovation ecosystem and companies from the region; the event aimed to explore opportunities for innovation in various sectors, focusing on defense and climate-related challenges as well as dual use. The gathering, hosted by Linköping Science Park in collaboration with Region Östergötland, Norrköping Science Park, and the regional incubator LEAD, welcomed 30 visitors from the government and industry sectors.
The primary objective of this high-profile meeting was to gain deeper insights into how innovation can contribute to addressing critical national challenges, particularly those related to defense, security and sustainability. The event also allowed the attendees to explore the capabilities of companies from Linköping, including Sectra, Saab, Sylog, and Polar Light Technologies.
The agenda featured notable presentations, including one by Leif Nixon, a cybersecurity expert and volunteer at Blågula Bilen, who shared insights into how civil society mobilized to support Ukraine. Richard Widén introduced Östergötland’s innovation system and its five key strength areas connected to the region’s smart specialization strategy. The key topics discussed were the innovation system and support mechanisms, the regional perspective on innovation, and the role of Science parks and clusters in fostering innovation. Lena Miranda, CEO of Linköping Science Park, and Catharina Sandberg, CEO at LEAD, discussed approaches to supporting and realizing innovations in Östergötland. The importance of access to capital for startups in driving societal development was emphasized.
One of the central themes of the meeting was the intersection of defense industry needs and innovation. The participants engaged in a discussion on how the tech industry and research community effectively can identify and address the needs of the public sector, with a focus on Sweden’s defense and security. The challenges of working on defense-related projects, including considerations of foreign ownership and geopolitical factors, were also explored.
Another part of the discussion covered the concept of “dual use” and shared examples of innovations that have applications in both civilian and defense sectors. Crises are an important driving force for innovation. Linköping, for example, has, during the pandemic, developed new applications including scanning and measuring body temperature with thermal systems, satellite data from conflict areas as well as self-testing for COVID-19.
Polar Light Technologies, represented by Nathalie Elsässer, offered insights into their groundbreaking work on microLED technology. This innovation promises highly energy-efficient and durable displays, with applications ranging from smartphones to industrial settings, revolutionizing various industries.
Magnus Ahlström and Marcus Zakrisson from Saab shared a historical perspective on Saab’s contributions to safety and security, emphasizing the collaborative ecosystem between industry, universities, and the government that has pushed innovation in the region. They also talked about the IndX platform, which connects large corporations with innovative startups.
Robert Lindqvist, Vice CEO of Sectra Communications, discussed Sectra’s role as a leader in secure communication solutions, particularly within the EU and NATO. He highlighted Sweden’s expertise in encryption solutions and Sectra’s research in quantum-safe cryptography, network patterns, formal verification, and cloud security.
Fredrik Landberg, CEO of Sylog Öst and member of Cyberly, spoke about the importance of cybersecurity competencies within Östergötland’s cyber ecosystem. He noted the significant presence of public actors, research institutions, and companies working in the field of cybersecurity.
In the afternoon, the delegation visited Norrköping and met with representatives from Norrköping Science Park, WISE, Ligna Energy, AERO EDIH, and various other innovation environments focused on advanced materials, energy, visualization, and AI.
This gathering underscored the pivotal role of collaboration between government agencies, industry, and innovation hubs in driving forward innovation in Östergötland and addressing critical national challenges. The insights and discussions from this meeting are expected to inform future strategies for fostering innovation and strengthening national security.