Check out the exclusive interview with Michael Salter, the leader of Sweden Brazil Innovation Initiative (SBII) and Senior Project Manager at RISE, and learn more about SBII in 2021 and tips on how to participate in an international cooperation.
Could you present RISE for the Brazilians?
RISE (Research Institute of Sweden) is an independent, non-profit, state-owned research institute that offers unique expertise and about 100 testbeds and demonstration facilities, instrumental in future-proofing technologies, products, and services. With 2.800 employees in six divisions: Bioeconomy and Health, Digital Systems, Material & Production, Safety and Transport, and Society Building, Rise supports and promotes all manner of innovative processes. The headquarters of RISE is in Gothenburg; however, we have employees located all over Sweden.
RISE drives advanced research and innovation in a broad spectrum of areas also in international collaboration with industry, academia, and the public sector, ensuring competitiveness of the business community and contributing to a sustainable society.
And what is your role at the SBII project?
My role is the leader of the Vinnova financed project, Sweden Brazil Innovation Initiative. We have established a great team together with the organizations of RISE, IGNITE (https://ignitesweden.org/), CISB (http://www.cisb.org.br/), and the Office of Science and Innovation Brasília (OSI Brasilia) from the MEI - Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. We have a great team of partners that work to build bridges and strategic partnerships, offer networking opportunities with the goal of increasing the level of cooperative innovation between Sweden and Brazil.
I work with RISE internal personnel and its external project partners to implement the plans and activities of the project. My particular focus is to connect the two countries innovation networks by building networks between RISE and the Brazilian innovation institutes such as the SENAI and Embrapii. In this way we can connect the two countries innovation ecosystems to build bottom-up industry driven innovation.
How can SBII be important to Sweden and Brazil partnership?
The SBII project works to build a platform for facilitating Swedish-Brazilian innovation partnerships in key areas of strategic interest to both countries. Currently we have prioritized 4 areas for increased cooperative innovation: Bioeconomy, Health, Mining and Smart Cities. Within these areas, we have established specific multi-year action plans with specific goals and activities that focus on networking, matchmaking, and information sharing. With the goal of helping the building and formation of specific joint projects between our countries. SBII can be seen as a bridge or portal for industrial, academia and the public sector for giving practical support for international consortiums within the strategically prioritized areas.
What are SBII plans for 2021?
Our plans have had to be a little fluid and respectful of the current COVID-19 pandemic. But we are optimistically planning an exciting set of activities. In April, the Swedish Innovation Agency, Vinnova, together with Embrapii and SENAI, will open an opportunity to apply for funding of innovation projects within the strategic areas. In the same month RISE is planning the Webinar: “Understanding the Brazilian Market and Ecosystems” to mostly assist Swedish SMEs and researchers in navigating the innovation landscape between our two countries. In addition, in early May, IGNITE will offer a webinar focused on preparing Swedish startups for participating in matchmaking activities in 2021. Then, in the months of May and June, we are planning a series of webinars and matchmaking events focused specifically on the 4 strategic areas. And of course, in October and November we are planning Innovation Week events in both Sweden and Brazil. You can see the complete calendar of events on our website (www.sbii.org)!
What would be your most important tips/message to Swedish actors who will participate in the bilateral cooperation?
For Swedish actors, the most important message is to realize that the culture, political system, and communication channels are different in Brazil and patience is the rule. Also, the effect of the difference in size of the two countries should not be underestimated, especially in the case of Brazil as a developing economy. However, if the business goals are made clear and strong enough with benefits for all, solid relationships can be developed, then Brazilian entities make good long-term business and academic partners. Academic research in Brazil is world class in many areas and the innovation ecosystem is growing. There is huge opportunity for Swedish actors that want to work with Brazilian partners to develop innovations that serve the Brazilian market.
And what would be the message to Brazilian actors who will participate in the bilateral cooperation?
The first message for Brazilian actors is not too different from the Swedish message, for instance, that the cultural differences require patience and understanding. Also, the hemispherical differences must be accepted, while Brazil closes for the month of January for Carnival, Sweden shuts down in the month of July for its summer holidays. In the area of innovation, especially with the adoption of new technology, Sweden offers immense capabilities and opportunities for Brazilian companies to gain access to innovations for the Brazilian economy and citizens. In addition, the level of transparency and pragmatism with Swedish culture and politics make working with Swedish actors relatively straightforward. Sweden is a strong engineering country with the skills for organization and collaboration necessary to address complex societal challenges. Engagement with world-leading and innovative Swedish companies, large or small, offers Brazilian actors access to state-of-the-art innovations to serve their own markets, while at the same time offering a window to the EU market.