Why Saab in Brussels Is More Important Than Ever

Saab’s EU Affairs and NATO office provides an interface for the company both to European industry and to the institutions of the European Union, and this week you will get a glimpse of what is on the agenda in ‘the capital of Europe’.

Behind this blog post is me, Ylva, systems engineer at Saab Avionics Systems. I joined the team at the EU Affairs and NATO office for three months between February and May as my assignment abroad in the Saab Graduate Leadership Programme.

These are eventful times at the Saab office, and indeed in all of Brussels. A few of the items on the EU agenda are the negotiations over ‘Brexit’ -the UK’s exit from the EU, discussions regarding the next EU budget and further steps to enhance defence cooperation within the Union. A presence for Saab in this melting-pot where policies are formed and networks created is key for an international company like ours in order to follow current trends and discussions. The arguably most important role though, is the one Saab plays in showing the benefits that new technologies bring to building a safe and sustainable society.

My main task has been to investigate how Saab works with external research and development (R&D) funding from the EU and look into how we should engage in such opportunities. The EU’s current framework programme for research and innovation is the biggest to date, with a budget of €80 billion for 2014-2020. The programme is called Horizon 2020 and is used to fund collaborative international R&D projects. At Saab we invest about 25% of yearly revenues in our own R&D, which makes us truly research-intensive and enables us to push the technological frontiers. Participation in EU-funded projects is extremely beneficial because it provides access to even more financial resources and a valuable network of partners in Sweden and all over Europe, both in industry and academia.

In addition to the work on external R&D funding, I also got to take part in the daily tasks of my colleagues, which was tremendously interesting and inspiring. We formed quite a diverse team together and tapping into their knowledge and experience was an amazing opportunity. With my role at Saab being primarily in engineering, seeing Saab from the corporate perspective really increased my understanding of the entire company. I also got to meet many colleagues on visit from different departments all around Saab and learn about their products and businesses. One such occasion is shown in the picture, when the participants in the Advanced Corporate Management Network programme visited and gave me the honour of joining them for a day.

All in all, these few months are amongst the most inspiring so far in my career and I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate at our Brussels office.

On a visit to the European Commission with the Advanced Corporate Management Network.