During its first few years the Foundation awarded scholarships and distributed research funding, primarily to law scholars in the academic world. In the years 1988–1991 funding was provided to researchers at the Department of Law at Stockholm University, Umeå University Department of Law and for IFL Executive Education at Stockholm School of Economics. Funding was also provided to construct the new Law Students House (Juristerneras Hus) at Stockholm University, the EU Center at the Department of Jurisprudence, Umeå University, and Stora Huset AB, a reference library with information on listed companies (since transferred to Uppsala University’s Campus Gotland and the integrated public library there, Almedalsbiblioteket).
Scholarships for a year of study at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, were awarded to students at Stockholm School of Economics (SSE). (Read more about the Karl-Adam Bonnier Scholarship here ). The Foundation also organized a number of seminars, including one at SSE on the topic of case methodology.
The Foundation’s commitment grew in two main areas: corporate governance and higher education. In 1993 the Corporate Governance Forum was established based on the international network of economists and lawyers that Rolf Skog and Mats Isaksson had built up while working on a parliamentary commission (Ägarutredningen) tasked with analyzing and documenting ownership and control structures in the Swedish private sector. Rolf Skog and Mats Isaksson presented a proposal for further discussion to Gunnar Nord and Karl-Adam Bonnier in 1992. In December 1993, the Corporate Governance Forum held its first international seminar at the Bonnier family’s Nedre Manilla house in Stockholm. The Corporate Governance Forum went on to publish papers on corporate governance and to arrange seminars exploring various perspectives.
“The body of knowledge of an international group of experts became immediately available to a Swedish audience. The seminar also reinforced Sweden’s status as a key player in the international corporate governance debate. I don’t think that Sweden would have been on the international map without the Forum’s conscious efforts to build a bridge between Swedish and international research. Consequently, no other small country enjoys the same status in the international corporate governance debate as Sweden,” Mats Isaksson, 2011
In 1998 there was discussion on increasing the focus on small, new and innovative enterprises. The Forum for Innovation Management (FIM) was formed in 1999 in partnership with the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship (SSES) and the Teknikhöjd science and technology park. The first major seminar was held in August 2002 on the topic of national innovation policy and whether or not Sweden would have a Minister of Innovation after the 2002 election. The seminar was organized in cooperation with SSES, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Moscow State University, Saint Petersburg State University and Helsinki University of Technology. In April 2004 FIM’s first anthology (Svensk Innovationskraft) of the Forum’ seminars during the first three years of its existence was delivered to Pär Nuder, Minister for Policy Coordination, Social Democratic Party.
“The purpose of the Forum for Innovation Management is to actively promote Sweden’s innovative capacity. The basic premise for the FIM’s work is that the future competitiveness of Swedish business and industry depends on the ability to identify, support and develop the innovative, creative and entrepreneurial forces in the country. It is FIM’s position that innovative capacity and a creative imagination will make Sweden competitive in an international arena and in doing so, promote a more compassionate society. FIM also believes that through cross-pollination of various disciplines and sectors, as well as intersections of the humanities with natural and social sciences, Sweden can develop precisely the innovative capacity it needs. FIM organizes debates, seminars and conferences and provides financial support for activities that promote innovation.” Svensk Innovationskraft (2004).
FIM noted that Sweden was among the top countries in the world in inventions and new patents. Commercializing good ideas and turning them into robust companies was not, however, one of Sweden’s strengths. FIM called this “the Swedish anomaly.” As a result, in 2008 FIM published its second anthology on Sweden’s innovative capacity, Svensk Innovationskraft II – Ur Startblocken, with themes reflecting FIM seminars and debates during the period 2004–2007 and based on interviews and papers by leading experts on innovation in Sweden.
It was also during this period that the KABS Innovation Fund (KIF) was instituted. The vision was to assist early-stage enterprises by contributing experience and seed capital, while also studying them at close quarters and documenting the stumbling blocks encountered by new companies. The target group consisted of growth-oriented innovation start-ups within the Teknikhöjden science and technology park, originating from Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institutet medical university. The portfolio consisted of innovative companies in, for example, pharmaceutical and engineering industries and the IT sector.
“The purpose of the KABS Innovation Fund is to provide growth-oriented innovation start-ups with experience and capital to accelerate their early-stage development and boost their future profitability. Another mission of the Innovation Fund is to improve the Foundation’s understanding of the growth phases and success factors for small businesses.”
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