Saab invests a large share of its revenue in research and development (R&D). Investing in innovation is necessary for us to stay competitive and on the forefront of technology. Among the major R&D projects in recent years that Saab has invested in are the further development of Gripen, a new-generation airborne surveillance system and a new generation of submarines. In 2015, Saab also continued to invest in its collaboration with Boeing to design a trainer jet for the US Air Force’s T-X program. The total value of self- and customer-financed R&D amounted to SEK 6,8 billion in 2015, corresponding to 25 per cent of sales.
Some of Saab’s development projects result in product ideas that fall outside the core business. For more than a decade, these ideas have been consolidated in Saab Ventures, which works together with outside investors to further develop the ideas and find a natural home for the business. One successful example is C-leanship, a remotely operated underwater vehicle equipped with high-pressure water jets to clean ship hulls, which reduces fuel costs for shipping companies while at the same time helping to keep the world’s oceans clean. Another example is ReVibe Energy, which is based on technology developed by Saab to power wireless sensors.Saab’s expertise in 3D mapping has also led to spinoffs. To date, this area has produced two companies: C3 Technologies and Vricon, with more on the way.
INDUSTRIAL COLLABORATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
When Saab does business with other countries, the customer often demands some form of industrial co-operation, many times involving technology transfers. This is common with large defence contracts. For Saab, there are benefits to spreading knowledge through such transfers. People from different companies get the opportunity to meet, which encourages new ideas that could benefit everyone involved. Many times this generates new businesses that otherwise would not have arisen. One example from 2015 is the start of an industrial collaboration tied to the Gripen contract in Brazil. An initial group of 50 Brazilian engineers came to Sweden to work at Saab for a year. The collaboration will continue for several years and eventually around 350 Brazilian engineers will make it to Sweden. In addition to the demands from customers for industrial collaborations in connection with major orders, Saab naturally participates in many other forms of industrial collaboration, including close development alliances with customers and suppliers. These co-operations help all the parties involved and contribute to innovation. Several of Saab’s employees, for example, are working closely with Boeing in USA to develop a trainer aircraft.
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CENTRE
Saab is also building relationships through a global innovation programme, which is mainly designed for countries where Saab wants to establish a long-term presence. Saab brings the way the company works with R&D in Sweden to new markets by buil ding relationships with researchers, companies and governments. One example is the Swedish Brazilian Innovation & Research Center (CISB), which identifies, develops and supports research and development in advanced technology, specifically in the areas of the environment, defence, and transport. The organisation has 17 members and over 100 partners. Many potential customers want to share the technologies and capabilities that Saab can offer, at the same time that Saab gets an opportunity to participate early on in customer projects.
INNOVATION AWARD FOR PIONEERING
Together with Raytheon, Saab received the Aviation Week Laureate for Innovation for the introduction of the semiconductor material gallium nitride (GaN) in military radar and electronic warfare systems. GaN is noted for its resistance to overheating and semi-conductive properties. Saab has used the material in antennas in the next-generation Giraffe 4A radar system. This has resulted in an extended range, higher output and increased reliability.
An innovation-driven company like Saab has to work with universities and the academic community. The schools that Saab primarily works with are Linköping University, the Royal Institute of Technology and Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg. Structured collaborations between the company and schools cover everything from education to research. They also provide a way to identify skilled students, while giving employees an opportunity for professional development. Saab has a number of PhD candidates as well as several adjunct professors. Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe is shown here with Chalmers CEO Karin Markides.
Last updated: 16 February 2015 • 10:50