Your Royal Highness, Mr speaker of the Parliament, Excellences, Honoured Assembly
It is very exciting and a great privilege to stand here as President of the Royal
Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and deliver my first technology speech.
Today’s theme will be entrepreneurship. Not only one of the most important, but
also one of the most beautiful words I know. What does the word “entrepreneur”
mean? The National Encyclopaedia has the following definition:
“An entrepreneur is a person who through concrete action generates new business
activity, by, for example, commercialising a technical innovation or organising the
market in an innovative way.”
In other words: the link we need to turn an idea into a commercial success.
Sweden’s industrial base without doubt originated from an impressive series of
successful entrepreneurs. A few of these from our past are described in this exposé,
which is far from complete, and our biggest corporations can be assigned to the list.
I have chosen this theme because I believe that successful entrepreneurs are
essential if we are to convert knowledge into applications, commercial success and
economic growth. And this is even more important at this time when the economy is
in decline. Without entrepreneurs we are in poor shape. Entrepreneurs are our
Is entrepreneurship a thing of the past? No, I venture to argue that
entrepreneurship is still one of Sweden’s strengths today and there are numerous
prominent individuals to prove this. It’s important for our entrepreneurs to be
heralded as the heroes they are. Our sports stars, such as Zlatan and Peter Forsberg,
are often glorified, but this is not often true of our entrepreneurs. Why is that?
Ingvar Kamprad is, of course, often described as a hero, but in the academic world
entrepreneurship is not considered a qualification in Sweden. In other countries –
and the US is the first to spring to mind – people in academic careers are given
credit for starting a business venture. In Sweden in my exper