International partnerships are key to Saab’s innovation
As an international business with a global customer base, looking outside of Saab has always been part of our innovation culture. We work in partnership with industries, companies and academia in markets around the world to pursue inspiration that leads to profitable innovations.
A global company
The roots of Saab’s innovation culture lie in Sweden, but the company has long looked further afield for inspiration and partnerships. Nowadays we have customers in more than 100 countries and have employees from more than 60 nationalities in 35 different countries. Wherever there are customers, there is the potential for innovative local partnerships.
Most of Saab’s major international deals include decades long partnerships in the countries in which our customers are based. These partnerships include different levels of industrial cooperation and collaboration between academia and authorities, and the aim is for all parties to benefit. Saab embraces such partnerships especially in research, technology and innovation as we aspire to become local long-term knowledge partners in the our new home markets. Therefore we promote such collaboration beyond any contractual obligations.
The True Collaboration series shows details of the Brazilian Gripen and demonstrates its importance for the Brazilian Air Force. We present topics on high availability, electronic warfare, performance, intelligent maintenance solutions, technology transfer and much more.
When a nation is making a major domestic investment, such as acquiring infrastructure or defence equipment such as fighter jets, the seller is often requested to create jobs, transfer technology or strengthen the local market’s domestic skill base. Such demands are especially common in the defence industry. Saab see these parts of the major deals as an opportunity to increase our partner and innovation base and use the new home countries as an integrated part of our technology and innovation strategy.
The ‘Triple Helix’ approach
Saab’s ability to quickly respond and adapt to an ever-changing world is essential for us to remain a partner who our customers can count on. Our commitment to having a ‘Thinking Edge’ means that we have to think and act in an innovative way across all disciplines. Saab’s International Partnerships function is a proactive and agile strategy where we focus on innovation partnerships and collaborations worldwide. Here, we use our ‘Triple Helix’ approach, a hallmark of the Swedish Innovation System.
Saab’s history of working closely with the Swedish state on its defence requirements mean that we have long worked in synergy with academia, industry and government bodies on major projects. Combining the research talent of universities and technical education institutions, the production and technological expertise of industries, and the procurement and administrative power of governmental bodies gives us the leverage to deliver the huge, multi-year projects that are core to Saab’s business.
Sweden has a culture of cooperation, transparency and flat, rather than hierarchical, organisations. That makes it easier for the country to be innovative. We solve problems together.
This ‘Triple Helix’ was crucial to the development of the Gripen fighter system, one of the landmark projects in Saab’s history. When we establish our company in new markets, we strive to transfer this Swedish Innovation System thinking to our work there.
Here are a few examples:
Brazil and CISB
When Brazil bought the Gripen system from Saab in 2014, it also paved the way for a substantial industrial cooperation, and technology transfers. In 2015, 50 Brazilian engineers arrived in Sweden to work for one year, starting a multi-year collaboration that will ultimately see 350 Brazilian technicians take part, exchanging insights and contributing to innovation.
In Brazil, the Swedish Brazilian Innovation and Research Center (CISB) works as an innovation hub to identify, develop and support research and development in advanced technology, specifically in the areas of the environment, defence, and transport. The organisation has more than 17 members and over 100 partners.
Want to read more about CISB, click here.
Finland and the ALTO Programme
In Finland, a melting pot for innovation, the epicentre might be seen in and around Aalto University. Aalto is a conglomerate of a former Institute of technology, a design school and a business school, named after the famous designer Alvar Aalto. Saab found here a perfect partner for development of next generation microwave solutions. We have set up a program of research projects including Saab engineers. Concurrent around 10 projects are running and the output is used to develop applications and products both in Saab Finland and in other Saab sites. This is also done together with Chalmers university in Finland. Every year a Saab Aalto conference is arranged to show results and to grow the partnership in Finland and around the world.
India and SITIS
The Sweden-India Transport Safety and Innovation Partnership was launched in February 2020, with the aim of using the connectivity, electromobility, automation, and AI to implement effective technology and system-level measures to improve traffic safety in India, where there are 150,000 traffic-related deaths each year. Saab joins fellow Swedish companies and innovation bodies such as Ericsson, Chalmers University of Technology and RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) in this initiative.
Saab’s Global Innovation team takes a multi-dimensional approach to fostering innovation in markets where Saab is present, including:
- Establishing innovations arenas and coordinating events to support innovation-related business in emerging markets, as well as huge contracts and strategic and long-term partners.
- Facilitating a network for market issues among market area and business area functions
- Coordinating research mobility to ensure next generation innovations through our scholarship programme and international university collaboration
- Participating in the Team Sweden Innovation platform, branding Sweden and Saab as a technology partner
- Designing and coordinating courses and lectures in collaboration with universities
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Sweden is often ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries. A significant reason why is the ‘Triple Helix’ cooperation model, where academia, industry and government combine to identify, research and develop innovative technologies and services that meet the nation’s needs. Sweden’s defence industry has long embraced this approach, and Saab plays a leading role.