Jenny Gardner, the UK Innovation Hub Director, talks about what innovation means to her

Innovation is about ideas, that is why I am delighted to open the Saab Innovation Hub at Imperial College London, to bring these ideas to life. Our initial £3.5 million investment, into a UK wide university network, embodies Saab’s pioneering and innovative spirit.

I leapt at the opportunity to work with Saab’s people and products – from world leading radar technologies, ships and submarines to famous fighter jets. My fascination with technology started at an early age, as I teenager I dreamt of becoming a pilot, so you can imagine my excitement watching Sweden’s Gripen fly at RIAT. Spending my days surrounded by imaginative, inspiring people, working on ground-breaking future technologies to keep the UK and the world safe is an immense privilege.  

At our heart, Saab is motivated by an innovation philosophy, and it is this philosophy that has driven our commitment to the UK. For Saab – a Swedish company – we find a similar mindset in the UK. We believe the UK is where we can bring together the best of British and Swedish innovation for the international market. This natural fit combined with some of the best universities in the world, has created the perfect home for the Innovation Hub.

Saab has, since its establishment in 1937, focused on collaborative working and developed its innovation thinking according to the triple helix of innovation – a set of interactions between academia, industry and government to foster economic and social development. We invest nearly a quarter of our revenue in research and design, creating the technologies that will improve people’s lives, to help societies grow and prosper.

Our 40-year relationship and commitment to the UK has already yielded benefits for the whole nation. Nearly 1000 business make up Saab UK’s supply chain, with 99% of these being SME’s. At Cranfield Saab has already invested, together with the University, in the UK’s first Digital Control Tower as well as Cranfield’s £67million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre. Our work with Cranfield University gives a snapshot of what Saab’s innovative power can do when it’s combined with the UK’s academic excellence.

Innovation does not come with a colour or a gender, you need diversity to come up with a mix of new ideas to truly innovate. Being a woman in Saab is very encouraging, our ambitious global target for 25% of all employees to be female by 2025 is just one example of Saab’s commitment to diversity. It is my ambition to bring this approach to the Innovation Hub, creating the next generation of innovators who look like modern Britain.

Saab’s investment in short and long term research is placing us at the edge of the laws of physics. Our commitment to exploring science and leading-edge technology is giving us a glimpse of what the future holds. This is an exciting time for Saab and the UK, there is so much we can achieve together. The Innovation Hub will develop the innovators of tomorrow, push the boundaries of technological change all while delivering a safe and prosperous future for the UK.