Innovation, sustainability and competitiveness, all sides of the same coin

16 June 2022

The conference themes of innovation, ...

The conference themes of innovation, sustainability and competitiveness "are exactly what we need to discuss these days: they are the core concepts that strengthen the Single Market," said Margrethe Vestager, European Commission Executive Vice-President for ‘A Europe fit for the Digital Age’, in her opening keynote address to Orgalim’s conference this week.

Taking place as part of Orgalim’s General Assembly in Stockholm, the conference also featured a keynote speech by Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation, and a discussion between the policymakers, Orgalim President Rada Rodriguez, CEO of Signify GmbH, and President of Teknikföretagen Tom Erixon, CEO of Alfa Laval.  

Two panel sessions with leading representatives from Europe’s technology industries and Swedish technology entrepreneurs completed the programme. Over 150 attendees gathered in person at the Epicenter innovation centre in the heart of Stockholm, with more following the proceedings on livestream. 


All sides of the same coin 

Three main messages kept emerging from the discussions.

First is that innovation, sustainability and competitiveness are "all sides of the same coin," as moderator Jenny Gardner, Head of Strategy & Portfolio, Combat Systems, Saab, emphasised.

Executive Vice-President Vestager further stressed "If we are to manage the green transition, if we are to build resilience and safeguard Europe's place in the new global economy, we will need innovation. That begs the questions: how do we get innovation? From the point of view of public policy, we must set clear transparent and fair market conditions for a level playing field - one in which businesses can grow and innovate the best possible products".


Second, the recurring message from industry to policymakers was to set the direction – notably on climate ambition – but not to specify the technologies to get there, especially given the fast pace of technological change. Particular reference was made to the EU taxonomy – which currently excludes many enabling technologies – and also supply chains. When it comes to building supply chain resilience, said Tom Erixon, industry does not need much guidance from policymakers. "I think the issue of supply chain resilience is completely overplayed at the moment," he said. 



The third message emerging from the discussions was that cooperation and partnership are key. "It's no secret that Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world," said Minister Thorwaldsson. That success he attributed in part to the "close cooperation between companies, with research and universities and with workers in factories". 

Closing the conference, Malte Lohan, Director General, Orgalim, concluded "we want to put manufacturing back at the heart of the EU. And not the manufacturing of the past, but the manufacturing of the future. We call that advanced manufacturing."

  We want to put manufacturing back at the heart of the EU. And not the manufacturing of the past, but the manufacturing of the future. We call that advanced manufacturing 

Malte Lohan, Orgalim Director General

If you missed the conference, or want to revisit it, you can view it in full here.  

All photos from the conference, the Innovation Safari that preceded it and the rest of the Orgalim General Assembly, are available on Orgalim’s Flickr page

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