Sweden’s youngest centenarian – IVA 100 years

This year, we celebrate the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences’ (IVA) first 100 years. Founded in 1919, IVA is the second youngest royal academy in Sweden, and nonetheless one of the oldest engineering sciences academies in the world.

Since the start, IVA has been a meeting place and a platform for scientific commitment and social engagement. The academy consists of decision-makers and experts from business and industry, academia and public administration and its overall mission is to “promote technical and economic sciences, and the development of the enterprise sector, for the benefit of society”.

On the occasion of the centenary, IVA, together with National Academy of Engineeing (NAE) and the Office of Science and Innovation in Washington D.C, organized a jubilee reception and a seminar on October 14 and 15.

Among the participants on the reception on the 14th were the presidents of the two academies, Dr. Tuula Teeri (IVA) and Dr. John L. Anderson (NAE), as well as Dr. Martin A. Wikström, Director for Research and Education Policy, who gave a presentation about the history of IVA.

The presidents of IVA and NAE engaged in a panel discussion on engineering challenges for the future and scientific advice for policymaking, together with Dr. Anna Nilsson-Ehle, Chairperson of the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova) and Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the Obama administration and former Vice President on Google X. Amelie von Zweigbergk, Political Education Expert and former State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Education, moderated the discussion.

Amelie von Zweigbergk, Dr. Tuula Teeri, Dr. John L. Anderson, Dr. Anna Nilsson-Ehle and  Megan Smith
Amelie von Zweigbergk, Dr. Tuula Teeri, Dr. John L. Anderson, Dr. Anna Nilsson-Ehle and Megan Smith.

The celebrations continued the following day with plenary talks by Dr. France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation and Dr. Anna Nilsson-Ehle, Chairperson of Vinnova on the overall theme of inclusive learning, education and workforce development in future societies.

Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of National Science Foundation
Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of National Science Foundation.
Dr. Anna Nilsson-Ehle, Chairperson of Vinnova
Dr. Anna Nilsson-Ehle, Chairperson of Vinnova.

The day also included workshops with representatives from academia on how to broaden participation in higher education (not least in the STEM field) and the academically qualified workforce. Specifically, the underrepresentation of women in some professions and the fact that individuals from families lacking academic tradition do not always have access to higher education were some challenges that were adressed. Demands on, and reforms of, education systems in relation to life-long learning was another topic that the panels discussed.

Overall, the two-day celebrations offered interesting discussions about how to safeguard research and innovation at the highest level, by increasing representation and attract minorities, in order to conquer the grand societal challenges the world is facing today. The work of IVA has centered around issues like these for a hundred years now, and will continue to do so. Today IVA conducts projects and activities in a large number of areas, a few examples are the Technology Leap, the Job Leap and the Swedish node of the Junior Academy. These types of projects are important to acknowledge and continue to develop.


About the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA)

IVA is an independent academy under the patronage of the king of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf. The academy was founded in 1919 as a result of an energy crisis at the time, and its vision is Technology in the service of humanity.

Today, the academy consists of approximately 1300 elected fellows (about 300 of these are foreign members) that come from companies, universities, NGOs and the public sector. IVA is organized in 12 divisions focusing on various fields within engineering and economics, a Business Executive Council (with more than 200 companies represented within the council) and a Student Council. IVA also has three regional organizations in Sweden (IVA North, South and West). Read more about IVA here.

Agnes Wiberg, intern at the Office of Science and Innovation in Washington D.C.