Linking up the Swedish and Japanese Innovation Systems

Another year with the corona pandemic is coming to an end, but as in many places around the world the pandemic has, also in Japan, spurred discussion and efforts for a green transition and recovery for society and industry. In 2021, Sweden and...

Another year with the corona pandemic is coming to an end, but as in many places around the world the pandemic has, also in Japan, spurred discussion and efforts for a green transition and recovery for society and industry. In 2021, Sweden and Japan took further steps in linking up our innovation systems, contributing to the green transition while making the industries more competitive.

Japan aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and launched an ambitious plan to support the carbon neutrality with the Green Growth Strategy in December 2020. The Green Growth Strategy is an industrial policy is set to accelerate sustainable growth and innovation, increase competitiveness and to spur Japanese industrial transformation towards carbon neutrality. To support the transition the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry set up a 2 trillion yen (SEK 164 billion) “Green Innovation Fund” to support projects promoting decarbonization in March 2021.

Sweden and Japan have a common interest in achieving carbon neutrality in industry and society. As two of the world’s strongest research and innovation nations, have great opportunities to – more efficiently – meet societal challenges, the SDGs and to increase international competitiveness by co-creating. Innovation will be a key in the transition, putting spotlight on organizations’ abilities for innovation and innovation management. In May 2021, Japan Innovation Network (JIN) and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) signed an agreement to enhance innovation collaboration between Sweden and Japan, providing a platform for co-creation, and to support the professionalization of innovation management in industry. The CEO of JIN, Mr. Hiro Nishiguchi, was the first Japanese representative to have been certified as an Innovation Management Professional by RISE.

Sweden the only international speaker at JIN’s Innovation Management Summit 2021

In October, OSI Tokyo was invited to present Swedish examples of green innovation and discuss innovation management for societal transformation at Japan Innovation Network’s Innovation Management Summit 2021 as the only international speaker. In the audience was representatives from over 500 companies with an interest in open innovation.

Dr. Michael Jacob, Science and Innovation Counsellor/Head of OSI Tokyo, presenting at JIN’s IMS Summit in October 2021.

Team Sweden hybrid symposium on Industrial Transformation on December 15

Just before wrapping up 2021, the OSI organized the hybrid symposium “Post COP26 Industrial Transformation: Circular Economy as a Driver for Competitiveness” online and at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo. The symposium was co-organized with Business Sweden, Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and Japan Innovation Network (JIN) and marked the first joint event within the JIN-RISE collaboration, following up on Sweden’s participation in JIN’s IMS Summit.

The event gathered representatives from over 100 Japanese companies, Swedish stakeholders and speakers to discover and discuss opportunities brought by the green transition. This, with a particular focus on how Sweden and Japan jointly can meet challenges and enhance innovation capabilities and realize a carbon neutral industry. The symposium opened with remarks from Ambassador Pereric Högberg and Japan Innovation Network CEO, Mr. Hiro Nishiguchi.

Dr. Peter Alberius and Dr. Johanna Mossberg from RISE addressing the audience gathered in the Nobel Auditorium at the Embassy of Sweden in Tokyo.

After a key note speech by Mr. Shinichi Kihara, Deputy Director-General for Environmental Affairs, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, RISE spoke on international co-creation for innovation and competitiveness with a particular focus on Bioeconomy (CCU and Chemicals). The two keynotes were followed by Swedish industry case presentations by eMethanol scale-up company Liquid Wind and unicorn Northvolt talking their Revolt recycling program. The speakers then further explored the theme of industrial transformation in a panel discussion before Carsten Grönblad, Trade Commissioner and Head of Business Sweden wrapped up the seminar. The seminar was streamed on Zoom and a recording of the session can be found at the Embassy’s YouTube channel.

Evening reception in Tokyo and breakfast reception for the speakers joining live from Sweden.

The symposium was followed by a reception at the Ambassador’s residence (with corona measures in place). During the reception, the about 40 guests were given the opportunity for live interactions with the Swedish speakers, joining the reception through hybrid stations.

When countries with a high level of knowledge and with strong industry sectors join forces in addressing societal challenges, innovative solutions can be brought forward at speed, mitigating climate change and contributing to the green transition. These kinds of solutions can have significant international demand, mean big business opportunities, and increase the international competitiveness of industry. Sweden and Japan have great opportunities to take a lead in the green transition, not least through co-creation. Together we can do more and he time to act is now – both for addressing global societal challenges and for forming the future competitive industries.

Hanna Brasar @OSI Tokyo