The OECD Review of Sweden’s Innovation Policy is part of a series of OECD country reviews of innovation policy.* It was requested by the Swedish authorities, represented by the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications and was carried out by the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (DSTI) under the auspices of the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP), in collaboration with the Committee for Industry, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE). The review draws on the results of a series of interviews with major stakeholders of Sweden’s innovation system and on a background report commissioned by the Swedish authorities. This background report was prepared by the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (referred to as Growth Analysis in this report) under the direction of Dan Hjalmarsson and was authored by Lars Bager-Sjögren and Enrico Deiaco. It contains a broad range of information that is widely drawn upon in this report.
Abbreviations and acronyms
Overall assessment and recommendations
Sweden’s history, cultural and institutional characteristics, and geographical features are important considerations in an assessment of the current state of its innovation system. Its nine million inhabitants can look back at an extraordinarily successful history of economic and social development. It started the industrialisation process as a relatively poor, resource-based country in the mid-19th century and is now an advanced society with a welfare state widely referred to as the "Swedish model". On various counts Sweden ranks among the world’s most innovative countries today. It overcame the limitations of a small domestic market through a high degree of internationalisation, not least through the emergence of large Swedish enterprises. Innovation has long been a pillar of Sweden’s development, even before innovation was explicitly considered a key driver of economic growth and social development. As this review will argue, innovation is also the key to Sweden’s future in a globalised world.
Évaluation globale et recommandations
Les caractéristiques historiques, culturelles, institutionnelles et géographiques de la Suède sont des considérations importantes si l’on veut évaluer l’état actuel de son système d’innovation. Avec ses neuf millions d’habitants, ce pays a connu historiquement un développement économique et social exceptionnel. La Suède, qui a commencé à s’industrialiser au milieu du 19e siècle alors qu’elle n’était qu’un pays relativement pauvre dont l’économie reposait sur les ressources naturelles, est maintenant une société avancée avec un État protecteur généralement appelé « modèle suédois ». À divers égards, la Suède est aujourd’hui un des pays les plus innovateurs dans le monde. Elle a surmonté les contraintes d’un petit marché intérieur grâce à un fort degré d’internationalisation, notamment par l’émergence des grandes entreprises suédoises. Le développement de la Suède s’appuie depuis longtemps sur l’innovation, même avant que cela ne soit explicitement considéré comme un facteur essentiel de la croissance économique et du développement social. Comme on le verra ici, l’innovation est aussi la clé de l’avenir de la Suède dans un monde globalisé.
Economic performance and framework conditions for innovation
This chapter provides an overview of Sweden’s macroeconomic performance. It highlights salient features of Sweden’s economy – openness to international trade and foreign direct investment integration in global markets – and sketches out patterns of structural change in production and trade. It also looks at the current state of framework conditions as they relate to entrepreneurship and innovation. It concludes with a discussion of the role of innovation in Sweden’s economic development in the longer term and highlights new trends in innovation as well as the increasing role of knowledge-based capital.
This chapter reviews Sweden’s innovation inputs and outputs and compares them as far as possible with those of other advanced OECD countries. In terms of inputs, Sweden stands out internationally for its high levels of investment in research and development (R&D) (in both absolute and relative terms), the high share of industry in R&D performance and the high share of business R&D funding by multinational enterprise affiliates. Evidence on innovation expenditures suggests that Swedish firms operate at the European technology frontier and that innovation is central to their activities. However, among countries with higher than average R&D intensity, Sweden is the only one to have experienced a notable decline in R&D intensity over the last decade. Business finances a smaller share of higher education R&D expenditure than the OECD norm. In terms of outputs, several indicators confirm Sweden’s position as an international centre of scientific excellence and technological leadership. Sweden has more scientific publications and international patents per capita than most OECD countries. However there are indications that formerly dominant sectors are undergoing moderate decline and that Sweden’s position is weaker in service innovation and in some measures of impact.
Innovation actors in Sweden
This chapter describes the main actors in the Swedish innovation system, their contribution to the system’s dynamism and the main challenges they face. Businesses and universities are the main innovation actors. Sweden is home to highly innovative, exportoriented, internationalised firms operating at the technological frontier across a wide range of industries. Large firms dominate R&D expenditure in manufacturing industries, while smaller firms make a much larger contribution in the services sector. International comparisons suggest that the Swedish business sector has for the most part done well in the face of important global challenges. Sweden also possesses well-endowed and globally visible universities with a diverse range of strengths. However, universities currently face some long-term challenges. Compared to other world-leading countries there are signs of shortcomings in the impact of scientific research as evidenced in citations and commercial outcomes. In this context, the features of the funding system and of university governance are examined. Finally, human resources for science, technology and innovation are examined, highlighting the measureable decline in education quality.
Role of government
This chapter examines a range of public activities that influence the Swedish innovation system. It begins by charting the evolution of Sweden’s science, technology and innovation policy before highlighting a number of issues of concern around public governance arrangements and innovation policy. The Swedish system is characterised by a multitude of strong intermediary organizations operating in a multi-level governance setting. While the national level remains dominant, the regional and, most notably, the European levels are increasingly relevant. The possible implications of current arrangements for national priority setting are discussed. The chapter looks at a number of substantive strategic innovation policy tasks that correspond to innovation system "functions" which policy should enable. These include supporting business innovation, facilitating access to risk financing, nurturing skills for innovation, spurring demand for innovation and fostering excellence and critical mass. Mindful of Sweden’s national context and of policy practices in other leading countries, each section concludes with a discussion of promising policy directions.
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