The defence industry is usually associated with the military. This is a natural association. But the other side of the coin is that there are many products and initiatives that have benefited civilian society, with everything from passenger planes and oceangoing steamers to Sweden’s first computers, headache remedies and traffic control systems. All this and much more are very significant parts of Saab’s history.

    One significant contribution is Saab’s approach to safety, necessary when designing aircraft. This approach spread to the automotive industry and can be seen in Saab’s own cars, for example. It brought new ways of looking at traffic safety and health, resulting in safety belts and airbags, more ergonomically designed seats and an environmental perspective on cars.

    Another important area is IT development, which originated from the need of a computer for navigation in Saab’s military aircraft. This led to the founding of the subsidiary Datasaab – a pioneer in many areas including computerised business systems and banking and cash register systems – subsequently laying the foundation for Sweden’s strong position in IT.

    The development of pharmaceuticals at Bofors Nobelkrut can also be mentioned here, with Sweden’s first headache remedy and various pain-relieving pharmaceuticals. Who would have guessed that Alfred Nobel's interest in dynamite and artillery could result in these types of products? But this was the case!

    The largest industrial project in Swedish history, for the JAS 39 Gripen, has created a wide range of spillover effects that despite the high development costs, have led to considerable benefits for society. Gunnar Eliasson, professor emeritus at the Royal Institute of Technology, writes in his book Synliga kostnader, osynliga vinster that for every crown the state invested, 2.60 crowns have been received in return. The investment in the Gripen gave Swedish industry fresh knowledge and an influx of various technologies that many businesses and government agencies have benefited from. In practice, the Gripen project has served as a technical institute of sorts.

    Benefits to society can also be seen from the micro-perspective. Many people have made a good living working for Saab, have grown on a personal level and had the opportunity to contribute with their talents in various areas.
    Saab along with all its associated companies has been a pillar of society. Without Saab’s aviation industry, Linköping may not have become a centre of higher education, and without Bofors, Karlskoga may never have become a city at all. Karlskrona was founded in conjunction with the construction of the crown’s shipyard in the 1600s, and with today’s Saab Kockums, the shipyard tradition lives on in the heart of the city.

    There are many towns and cities throughout Sweden and abroad where Saab has been – and is – an important part of the community, as a provider of rewarding  jobs and inspirational workplaces, as a melting pot for new knowledge and as a motor for societal development, but also as a name that instils hope in the future for new technology and new solutions to any safety and security problems people may encounter. This has been important for yesterday’s generations and it will certainly be important for tomorrow’s generations as well.

    Articles - Theme Society