Speech by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at IVA

Stockholm, 31 January 2017.

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Chancellor Merkel,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am honoured to be here today, and I am honoured to be accompanied
by the German Chancellor. It is a pleasure to see and hear about the breadth of German-Swedish cooperation in the field of innovation.
And I am very happy to be here for the opening of the German Swedish Tech Forum.

Germany and Sweden are two countries with many characteristics in common. We have a large proportion of innovative problem-solvers
and entrepreneurial mind-sets.

We share the willingness to adapt in times of change and make something even better for the generations to come.

To put it simply, we combine good business with the moral obligation to do the right thing.

And there is no shortage of challenges. Climate change, just to give one example, is pushing us all to find new solutions. And for sure, there is a big market waiting to buy new smart products and emission-reducing solutions.

Being at the forefront will create new jobs and growth. Innovation and cooperation are two of the keys to sustainable economic development.

I have great respect for the way Germany has been able to innovate and export new solutions and state-of-the-art technology to the rest of the world, year after year. Not least, it is inspiring to study the many medium-sized 'hidden champions', which have been powering German exports.

The success of the German Industrie-Vier-Punkt-Null is widely known and we have been fortunate enough to learn from it when establishing the Swedish strategy for Smart industry.

The German success of automation, modernising and digitalisation of its industry is something we can all learn from. I believe our countries have much to gain from increased cooperation on specific innovation projects and from sharing our experiences.

So I am very happy about the German-Swedish
partnership on innovation, I see great potential in partnering more closely, both bilaterally and within the European Union.

Innovation is one of the things I personally find most fascinating and inspiring. As the proud founding country of Skype and Spotify,
with Stockholm being second only to Silicon Valley in terms of the number of start-ups per capita in the world, we will continue to foster a development where new ways of thinking and smart solutions are encouraged, from preschools to universities.

Swedish success depends on our ability to stay competitive in a globalised economy. We will compete with knowledge and skills,
and therefore we need the best schools for our children. We need to ensure access to good education, not only during the first 20 or 30 years of life, but throughout our ever changing working life.

We have increased Sweden's focus on innovation and stepped up broad cooperation. One of the first things I did as Prime Minister was to set up a National Innovation Council, which I chair and which is now working with representatives of politics, business, trade unions, academia and civil society to clear paths for development and growth.

We strive to learn from positive examples. For one of the first meetings, the council invited a German expert to explain more about the Energiewende, the impressive policy encompassing all key sectors for transition to green low-carbon energy.

But let's be absolutely clear about one thing.

This is not something we do for businesses; it is something we do with businesses. The success of Swedish innovation is built on close collaboration with industry and other stakeholders.

That's why we have created innovation partnership programmes,
and the concept of Testbed Sweden. We are currently running five programmes, addressing: next generation transport; smart cities; a circular and bio-economy; life sciences; and connected industry and new materials.

And digitalisation is obviously at the forefront of them all.

So, what does this idea of cooperation for innovation mean in practice?

Just a few months ago, the world's first electric public road was opened in Sandviken, 200 kilometres north of Stockholm. In a partnership between Scania, Siemens, and local and national authorities, a hybrid lorry is operated by a local transport company on the electric road, delivering materials to the steel industry in the area.

This has gone from being a vision for the future to a reality today. It gives us a hint of what can be done to achieve a fossil-free transportation sector. I am eager to continue this journey together with you all here.

Today's round-table has initiated a new and stronger German and Swedish partnership for innovation.

We have four priorities:

First, mobility. The demands on transportation will continue to rise. Future travel and transport have to cut down greenhouse gas emissions dramatically. Today we are taking the very first steps towards an eHighway between Germany and Sweden.

Second, digitalisation. Both Sweden and Germany have strategies for smarter, connected and more competitive industries. We face the challenge to get small and medium-sized enterprises to lead the digital transformation. Now, we are joining forces to create the best possible conditions for small and medium-sized companies in both our countries.

Third, strengthening eHealth. Our populations are getting older and the demands for quality in health care are increasing. We need to seize the opportunities of digitalisation to improve quality, efficiency and access to health care. Tools in the field of eHealth enable remote expert consultation, monitoring and medical education. And we have much to gain from the closer cooperation that we have agreed upon today.

Fourth, we will improve test facilities for industrial development. As global competition is increasing we need to take our innovation capacity to the next level. We aim to increase the number of innovations tested in real life environments and launched on the global market. Now we are opening up our testbeds and making it easier for German and Swedish companies to test new products and take the leap from start-up to scale-up.

Chancellor Merkel,
this partnership brings together our governments, businesses and institutions.

It paves the way for deepened future cooperation and for new innovative breakthroughs.

I look forward to our growing partnership, where we will work together to promote growth and economic development in the best interests of everyone.

Thank you.