Government agencies have an important role to play in enabling innovation that makes a difference. Despite differing mandates, three agencies have joined forces to address this issue. 

During Sweden Innovation Days, the three Director Generals of Vinnova – Sweden’s Innovation Agency, Swedish Energy Agency and Formas – A Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development sat down to discuss their role as enablers, their joint Impact Innovation project and the need to break down innovation silos in order to solve the collective challenges of today.

The Impact Innovation Initiative is Sweden’s innovation investment for the 2030s. A strategic and long-term gathering of forces that aims to collectively solve global societal challenges and increase the pace of the transition to a sustainable society. 

According to Johan Kuylenstierna, Director General of Formas, it is important for a variety of actors to take on the enabler role and collaborate together. 

“Enablers are also important in industry and academia for example. It’s not just the role of government agencies, but we are playing an important role because we can have a mandate to connect different actors. Our role is not just about money, but also about driving changes in the entire system that can complement all the different actions and all different investments that we see in the private sector.”

Darja Isaksson, Director General of Vinnova, agrees adding that “​​This is not the first transformation of society. It’s just the most existential one and it needs to happen in a very short time. So, all the different parts of society, government agencies, industry, start ups, scale ups, and academia, need to think of themselves as active enablers of this transformation, because that’s essentially what it takes.”

For the Swedish Energy Agency’s Director General Robert Andrén it is about finding smart ways forward. 

“What we are doing and trying to do is a leader, a guide when it comes to finding smart ways forward, finding capital, networks, and new partnerships. We are also active throughout the whole innovation chain, from basic research to scale, to commercialisation and marketing, ways of getting innovations out there and also export promotion to find new markets. So the global effect of a green innovation is multiplied in many ways.”

All three directors agree that their different yet overlapping mandates are a strong foundation for the multifaceted challenges of today. For example you can’t talk about food production without also considering energy and environmental factors. 

Together they also have a unique position as government agencies to look at how regulations can hamper innovation and find ways to speed up and reward frontrunners within innovation. 

Watch their full conversation below and find out more about the Impact Innovation Initiative here: