Sweden’s Wallenberg family industrialists make bold proposals for more significant cooperation between Sweden and Finland

The Wallenberg family has actively worked to support enterprise and research in Sweden and internationally since André Oscar Wallenberg founded Stockholms Enskilda Bank (SEB) over 160 years ago.

Today, the fifth generation is continuing this tradition. The Wallenberg sphere currently comprises 15 non-profit foundations – the Wallenberg Foundations – and the industrial holdings companies Investor AB and FAM AB and their respective holdings.

Their companies include some of Scandinavia’s largest and most important blue-chip corporations, such as ABB, AstraZeneca, Atlas Copco, Electrolux, Ericsson, EQT, Höganäs, Mölnlycke, Nasdaq, Saab AB, SAS, SEB, SKF, Stora Enso and Wärtsilä. The ownership of these companies lies with the Wallenberg Foundations through the majority owned and publicly listed Investor AB and wholly owned FAM AB.

A member of this family, Marcus Wallenberg (right photo) was in Helsinki and gave a well-received presentation on how Finland and Sweden could cooperate more together on 3 large sectors – research and development, defence, and digitalisation.

His message was positive from the viewpoint of their industrial and commercial empire and from the viewpoint of the Nordic countries, in spite of all the negative news in the papers. He sees our Nordic countries as modern, with strong R&D capacity and many global companies with sufficient ICT resource capacity. Economic growth is back again, and we should be confident about the future,

But he listed out the clear challenges facing the Nordic countries of which the most important are:

  1. The growth of protectionism, the massive doubling of global private and public debt during the last 30 years with the threat of what happens “when the music stops.”
  2. China was a borrower in 1972 and now a lender to the USA, with China pushing hard on R&D as well as investing in fast growing digital unicorns.
  3. The Chinese have a 10 and 20 year perspective while we in the west have come to rely on much shorter periods for business and social solutions.

In order to meet these challenges he proposed that we must do the following:

  1. Retrain our workforces,
  2. Speed the process of innovations, and
  3. Disrupt what needs to be disrupted because things are moving fast in this global market.

Wallenberg sees that half of the 600 000 people employed in their related companies will need to learn new skills in the coming years!

He talked about about cooperation as the key to the future relationship between the 2 countries and he proposed 3 key areas to be shared between Sweden and Finalnd:

  1. Research in 3 key areas – Wood Science, Life Sciences and Autonomous Solutions
  2. Digitalisation – 5G, AI, Start-ups, Welfare 2.0, Transport
  3. Defence – hybrid warfare and defence solutions

Asked about the the spiralling costs of welfare expenditure in the Nordic countries with an ageing populations he mentioned that Forum för välfäld, a new forum for welfare in Sweden, brings together all stakeholders in the private and public sector, and this appears to be a useful measure – http://www.forumforvalfard.se

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