Gripen, an advanced fighter system
The world renown Gripen project was initially created as a result of a synergy between university, industry and government. Known as the ‘triple helix’ this model has long been employed by Saab to ensure highly sophisticated technological advancement.
Eva Söderström, Head of Industrial Cooperation, explains, "This has existed for many years in Sweden, although at the time it was not known as the ‘Triple Helix’ – it was a model we used: academia, industry and a governmental body. We did this to develop the Gripen program and we did it because it worked." Söderström makes a simple point that can sometimes get lost when talking of management models "It worked." The Triple Helix is certainly far from a conceptual idea at Saab but rather it is a working method.
The Brazilian collaboration
When Brazil entered into its contract with Saab for the delivery of the Gripen system it also entered into a substantial industrial cooperation, and technology transfers. As a result of the contract in 2015, an initial group of 50 Brazilian engineers arrived in Sweden to work for one year. This collaboration will continue for several years and ultimately around 350 Brazilians will have made the trip. These cooperations help all parties involved and contribute to innovation.
Back in Brazil, the Swedish Brazilian Innovation and Research Center (CISB) works to identify, develop and support research and development in advanced technology, specifically in the areas of the environment, defense, and transport. The organization has 17 members and over 100 partners. "Sharing technology and working together is a key feature of the Gripen deal", states Söderström; indeed building trust and focusing on long-term relationships has certainly become a feature of the way in which Saab works.
The hub for the Gripen development in Brazil - Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN).
Long term award-winning partnerships
Söderström is keen to point out further success stories, Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), in South Africa, for example. "A very successful company, SGD brings to Saab expertise and to South Africa exports that would not have existed without Saab particularly in electronic warfare and avionics." In fact, the company was awarded the Best Exporter Award by the SA Premier Business Awards in both 2013 and 2014.
Looking to the future, an increasing number of countries are keen to work with the Gripen system. According to Söderström this can only be positive as, although the relationships can take longer to build, they are built to last. Collaborative partnerships with Saab are often long term and are defined by the mutual exchange of ideas and innovation.