Globally Innovative Sweden


For being a relatively small country, Sweden is very creative.

The Global Innovation Index 2012 ranked Sweden as the most innovative country within the European Union and many inventions have sprung out of this Nordic country. A quick browse on the website lists a few of these inventions.How many of them sid you know were Swedish? 

THE ZIPPER The modern-day zipper that we know today was improved by Swedish-American Gideon Sundbäck. His invention was called the seperable fastener and featured interlocking teeth pulled together and apart by a slider for, as the picture demonstrates, ease of access.

AIS Getting completely lost nowadays is difficult thanks to global positioning systems (GPS) which are now an essential part of our daily lives; embedded in various technologies from smartphones to in-car navigation systems. Swedish inventor Håkan Lans is credited with taking GPS technology one step further to create automatic identification systems (AIS) now widely used in the shipping industry for tracking ships and vessel traffic.

THE ADJUSTABLE WRENCH A staple in many toolboxes, the adjustable wrench or spanner, also popularly called “Monkey wrench” or “English key,” often comes in very handy during do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. While the first iteration of this spanner was originally invented in 1842 by British engineer Richard Clyburn, today’s adjustable wrench, the “Swedish Key,” is attributed to Johan Petter Johansson, a Swedish inventor who improved upon Clyburn’s original concept and patented it in 1891.

THE HIV TRACKER A recent addition to the list of Swedish inventions is the HIV tracker: a sensitive device used for mapping out and detecting the spread of HIV and other viruses. Conceptualized by Doctor of Biotechnology Martin Hedström and his team at Lund University, the device can detect extremely low concentrations of poisons, viruses or other substances in liquids — which also makes it potentially invaluable for fighting bioterrorism.

SPOTIFY is a commercial music streaming service providing content from a range of major and independent record labels. Launched in Sweden in October 2008, the service had approximately ten million users as of 15 September 2010 (2010-09-15)about 2.5 million of whom were paying members.Total users reached 20 million by December 2012, 5 million of them paying monthly either $4.99 or $9.99.As of February 2013, the service is available in Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States

THE PACEMAKER In 1958, Rune Elmqvist developed a battery-run artificial pacemaker, which was used for the very first pacemaker operation done by surgeon Åke Senning at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. The pacemaker is placed under the heart patient’s skin and the electrical pulses it generates ensure that muscles expand and contract normally, regulating the heart.

POWERTREKK PowerTrekk is a portable charger that uses eco-friendly fuel cell technology to convert hydrogen into electricity. By adding one tablespoon of water along with the fuel pack to the charger, you can connect any compatible electronic device — mobile phones, GPS, laptops, digital cameras — to the PowerTrekk to instantly charge it.

TETRA PAK Thanks to the revolutionary paper-based packaging system called Tetra Pak we can now carry our milk home from the grocery store in cartons instead of glass bottles. Conceptualized in 1946 by Erik Wallenberg and produced by Ruben Rausing, Tetra Pak’s technology is used for storing and distributing liquids, semi-liquids and dairy products.

THE THREE POINT SEATBELT Now a standard requirement in every passenger vehicle saving around one life every six minutes, the three-point seatbelt was developed by Swedish inventor and safety engineer Nils Bohlin in 1959 for Volvo. It’s designed with a Y shape to spread out energy across a moving body during an accident.

ULTRASOUND / ECG Ultrasound is so integral to healthcare today that remembering a time when it didn’t exist is difficult. Along with German researcher Carl Hellmuth Hertz, Swedish physician Inge Edler devised the modern day echocardiograms — a Doppler ultrasound of the heart — that are integral to monitoring cardiovascular health. This invention netted both Hertz and Edler a highly coveted Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award in 1977.

SKYPE Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström from Sweden.The Skype software was developed by the Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, who together with Friis and Zennström were also behind the peer-to-peer file sharing software Kazaa.In August 2003, the first public beta version was released.

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