Tuesday, July 7, 2020

#Sambandh Stories is a series of short interviews with our members or collaboration partners on different topics of interest.

The below interview is with Dr Fanny von Heland, Counsellor at the Office of Science and Innovation at the Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi. 


What possibilities do you see in the world of science and innovation in the light of the Corona crisis? Have any new bilateral collaborations initiated between Sweden and India (big as small) ?  

I would say that international cooperation on science and innovation is at the core of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. It is very interesting to see that research and innovation is at the absolute forefront of combating the crisis in India.This is why it feels so fantastic to work with science and innovation diplomacy in these days. I think science paired with diplomacy can be a really powerful tool to affect global change.

The alarming fact is that the pandemic is unfolding at a time when cooperation between governments and international organizations in many respects is at an all-time low. Yet, to overcome this global crisis, we need more international collaboration, strong relationships and effective diplomacy.

I’m very glad to represent a government that recognizes the diplomatic value of cross-border scientific partnerships and networks, as well as industrial R&D projects to find new innovative close-to-market solutions.To answer your question, I think the possibilities are vast and profoundly important to capture.

As concerns Sweden and India, there is now a very exciting joint R&D call on Digital Health and AI between the Swedish Innovation Agency – Vinnova – and the Indian Department of Biotechnology. And the call welcomes solutions to fight Covid-19.


A big part of your work is about to extend the collaborations gov- to -gov and organisations, how do you work right now to keep a good flow?  

Online meetings have quickly become the new normal and most of the time it works great. Over the last weeks, I have attended several webinars and digital Sweden-India meetings and I have regular Skype meetings with my Nordic colleagues.

It feels like we are learning new things everyday about how we can conduct more effective and collaborative meetings, but the key challenge is still to create good face-to-face experiences online.


What do you think will be the biggest priority in science and innovation collaborations between India and Sweden for the coming years ahead?

Both Sweden and India have strong innovation ecosystems for health and life science and I think we will see an increasing interest to deepen our health collaboration. This would be very interesting for Sweden as India has top-research institutes and a very vibrant and interesting medtech startup scene.

I feel it is exciting to observe what is happening in India at the moment. We can already see that the crisis has resulted in several life-saving innovations and new ways of working across sectorial boundaries – what we in Sweden call a triple helix approach to innovation. I think this approach is key to solve many of our grand, global challenges.


Which positive outcomes in science and innovation do you think will characterize this year 2020 between India and Sweden? What are the trends so far?  

One interesting trend is that we can see more triple helix partnerships in India where academia, industry and government work closely together to find and develop new solutions. This could potentially transform India’s R&D landscape.

Another interesting thing with the pandemic is that we are all pushed to rethink plans and priorities and think more strategic and long-term about how we can create value for citizens, societies and our governments. I also appreciate that we are pushed to consider how we can re-organize and re-structure work to become more effective and ultimately more impactful.

From an overall perspective, I hope Covid-19 will give us opportunities to build even stronger bridges between science, innovation and policy, as well as strengthening the bond between Sweden and India.


Thank you Fanny! 


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