Swedish State Secretary Stina Billinger on collaboration across borders

Sweden, a successful industrial nation and a global leader in innovation and digitalization, is an attractive partner for international collaborations. Active international innovation- and research collaborations are important in guaranteeing...

Sweden, a successful industrial nation and a global leader in innovation and digitalization, is an attractive partner for international collaborations. Active international innovation- and research collaborations are important in guaranteeing access to global knowledge and to advance Swedish innovation. To strengthen Sweden’s capacity for international collaborations, the Offices of Science and Innovation at the embassies reinforce Sweden’s global connections to strategic international innovation, science and higher education environments.

We spoke to State Secretary Stina Billinger to learn more about international collaborations and the Innovation- and Research Councils central role as a link between Swedish and international innovation and research systems.

State Secretary Stina Billinger, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

Why are international collaborations important for Swedish competitiveness?

Sweden is a relatively small country, but trade and openness have been important elements in strengthening our competitiveness and innovation capacity, in both the public sector and in the business sector. Essentially, it is about promoting Sweden as a knowledge nation, attracting international investment, research and higher education in order to contribute to a strong society.

How can our innovation- and research councils abroad work to strengthen international collaboration?

We are facing a transformation of society, especially with regards to climate and digitalization. That will, combined with technical and medical advances together with the ambition to improve the health of the population, require competence, research and innovation. Even though we are one of the most innovative countries in the world today, we must keep up the work to maintain that position. International presence, improved contact networks and bilateral innovation partnerships are key to enabling us to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges we face.

The Innovation- and Research Councellors play an important role as a bridge between Swedish and international innovation and research systems. The Offices of Science and Innovation have been placed in countries where attendance is of strategic importance to Sweden. There is a lot of work going on right now, where their mission and the countries that they are monitoring are important puzzle pieces to strengthen Swedish competitiveness and innovation. We recently presented all the members of the Partnership programs which constitute a tool for jointly addressing the social challenges. The national life science-strategy was presented in December and of course, it includes international perspectives that will be reflected in the export and investment strategy. Together with the Ministry of Education, we are also working intensively on the development of upcoming research and innovation proposals.

Can you give some examples?

During our visits abroad, it has become clear what a great benefit this function provides in that they create a unique closeness between Swedish and international innovation and research environments / actors. This facilitates cooperation and exchanges of various kinds. The councellers have played an important role in several development collaborations and agreements that have been reached in recent years, thus also playing an important role for Swedish innovation and research.

Drenushe Januzi, intern at the Secretariat for the Offices of Science and Innovation