Remembering a CEO with an international outlook

IVA’s former President Hans G Forsberg has passed away at the age of 91. He was a driving force and a strong leader of the Academy from 1983 to 1994.

Hans G Forsberg was engaged in many different areas, two of which stand out: energy, and nuclear energy in particular, along with international relations. We mainly came to know him during his time at the Academy, where he has left a multifaceted and lasting legacy from four decades at IVA.

After graduating with a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in 1956 and a Master’s in Business and Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics, he worked as an assistant at the KTH lab focusing on isotope techniques. In 1962 his career took him to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. In 1965 he returned to Sweden to head the international section of IVA. In 1971 he entered what appeared to be an expanding sector of industry at the time: maritime shipping and shipbuilding. The industry became a stormy sea with many shipyards closing down, but he got to experience it for eight years as CEO of the Öresundsvarvet shipyard in Landskrona.

During his years as an expert in nuclear technology at KTH, the Institute and the IAEA, he built up a wealth of knowledge and developed a firm conviction that nuclear power had a crucial and assured place in the energy system of the future. This conviction manifested itself in many ways during his time as President of IVA, in studies, advocacy and opinion-forming initiatives.

Forsberg’s belief in the great importance of international relations yielded results at IVA and beyond. The technical attaché programme expanded, bilateral research partnerships with France, Japan and Germany were established, the number of International Fellows grew, new engineering sciences academies were created, the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences was activated, and extensive research exchange projects in cooperation with academies in several Eastern European countries, included the Soviet Union, were set up. Important initiatives were also established in Tokyo where IVA was part-owner of the Sweden Center in Roppongi, a district in which the Swedish Export Council and several Swedish subsidiaries had their offices.

Forsberg supported creative ideas, for example forming a new information technology division (Div. XII) within the Academy, a greater focus on economic sciences, and the Royal Technology Mission initiative. These delegation missions have taken place since 1984 with H.M the King, business leaders and research directors coming together to study cutting-edge technology and innovation in different countries.

After his time at IVA, Forsberg continued to serve as a board member for several companies and organisations. He was Chair of the Submarine Commission, an executive member of the ÅF research foundation and an active advisor to young engineering sciences academies. Forsberg was elected as an International Fellow in the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE), received an honorary doctorate from KTH and Herriot Watt University, and was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun by Japanese Prime Minister Abe in the presence of Emperor Akihito.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to work and interact with Hans – the strong leader and friend of the Academy – remember our time with him with great warmth and joy. In everything he accomplished he honoured IVA’s credo that everything we do must be for the benefit of society. This includes growth as well as sustainability.

Camilla Modéer, IVA Fellow

Edvard Fleetwood, Secretary General Sweden–Japan Foundation