IVA’s 98th Annual Meeting – a festive celebration

IVA’s 96th Annual Meeting was a party from start to finish. Speeches, Gold Medal presentations and commemoration of functionalism pioneers Markelius and Åhrén were highlights. But the Annual Meeting was also the occasion to say thank you and goodbye to Chairman Leif Johansson and IVA’s President Björn O. Nilsson, and for the premiere appearance of Tuula Teeri, IVA’s new President.

Leif Johansson, retiring as Chairman at the end of the year, in his sixth and final speech in that role in Stockholm Concert Hall said how much he has enjoyed contributing to IVA’s mission: to promote the engineering and economic sciences and the advancement of business and industry for the benefit of society. He highlighted Jobbsprånget as a good example of how IVA is making a difference and presented a concrete example: Kidist Siged came to Sweden from Ethiopia with a strong academic background, but her degree in engineering still wasn’t enough for her to get a job.

“After many attempts at several locations around the country she connected with Jobbsprånget on Facebook. That’s when things started to happen. Kidist got an internship at Volvo in Umeå and is now employed there as a quality engineer,” he said.

Leif Johansson also took the opportunity to congratulate Jobbsprånget on recently securing funding from both the Wallenberg Foundation and the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications.

He concluded by mentioning ICA’s centennial celebration, saying:

“Knowledge and entrepreneurship have been vital over the past 100 years and will certainly continue to be crucial over the next 100.”

Björn O. Nilsson, who is retiring after just over nine years as IVA’s President, took a look back over the past annual addresses on the theme of “Progress in Science and Technology” and identified a pattern:

“There’s a tremendous amount of exciting stuff in them – research keeps advancing and there are more and more solutions to society’s problems,” he said.

Five themes he detected in his own speeches were life sciences, knowledge, sustainability and environment, digitalisation and a focus on the future.

“As I look back I’m proud of all the great things being done in our small country; brand new concepts are coming out of research at universities and in the private sector in Sweden. There’s no doubt that we’re keeping up and that we’re a competitive country,” he said. 

But there is a storm cloud over the talent supply issue.

“This is perhaps the biggest concern right now for both small and large companies involved in research,” concluded Björn O. Nilsson in his ninth and final speech as IVA President in the Concert Hall.

He also took the opportunity to invite his successor Professor Tuula Teeri on stage for a chat. She comes most recently from her job as President of Aalto University. The university was founded in 2010 when Helsinki School of Economics, University of Art and Design Helsinki and Helsinki University of Technology merged. She is a Professor of Wood Biotechnology and Molecular Biotechnology and has also served as Deputy President of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

“The merger was a challenge and a gigantic task. But we had plenty of resources,” she said.

Björn O. Nilsson also invited her to take park in a friendly Finland/Sweden contest. Professor Teeri was asked to answer questions on everything from the Eurovision Song Contest to sawn wood production. IVA’s new President did a great job. She got five out of six right. This bodes well for the future. Facts are important.

The festivities continued with the usual mingling, banquet and dancing at Stockholm City Hall. Industry legend Anders Scharp, recipient of the Great Gold Medal, got the most applause and laughs. He broke with tradition, putting down his script and instead speaking from the heart in his acceptance speech. Although it went on a bit longer than planned, it was very entertaining.

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