Swedish steelmaker SSAB is to receive serious funding – to the tune of SEK 10 million (US$1.1 million) – for its SmartSteel research and development project.

Eva Petursson, head of R&D at SSAB said she was ‘extremely pleased’ about Vinnova’s support, claiming it will enable the company to ‘continue to develop the ecosystem for SSAB SmartSteel’ together with its new research partners and companies.

Support for the ecosystem around SSAB SmartSteel should be seen as a part of the Government of Sweden's focus on digitisation and new industrialization, claims SSAB.

The idea behind SmartSteel is to make available information and instructions relating to any steel item, regardless of where it is produced. Each link in the chain can then utilise and accumulate information. “This creates a basis for both the circular and platform economy,” the steelmaker claims, adding that the result will be less waste than at present and improved productivity and flexibility.

“The amount of information that accumulates in the entire production chain should facilitate the development of new services and accelerate and improve efficiency in product development at every stage. In addition, the accumulated information should make it possible for end users to ensure the quality, safety and durability of the product,” SSAB explained.

SSAB is collaborating with companies and organisations such as Sandvik Materials Technology, Swerea KIMAB, IBM, Siemens, Umeå University, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and FindIT.New collaboration partners may be involved later in the process.

“It is our firm conviction that the next generation's competitive advantages will be developed within a product's ‘ecosystem’ and not necessarily within individual companies,” SSAB said.

Petursson concluded: "In our view, the only way to develop this idea is through 'co-creation.' We think it is smart to collaborate and that everyone involved will gain from it. Therefore, we continue to be interested in coming into contact with additional collaboration partners. We have just begun to understand how SSAB SmartSteel can affect everyone in the value chain, and ultimately the society we live in as well,” she said.