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New leadership for Drive Sweden

Drive Sweden appointed a new programme director in February. Sofie Vennersten, previously responsible for the CLOSER programme, takes over after Jan Hellåker, who is now assuming the role of Chairman of the Board of Drive Sweden.

Sofie Vennersten, new Programme Director in Drive Sweden, how would you describe what Drive Sweden is building? 
Drive Sweden is an important and well-established innovation programme focussed on how the transport system of the future will develop. In just three years, we have grown from 17 partners to more than 100. It shows the degree of interest the need for collaboration within the area. Numerous demonstrations and strategic partnerships have begun. Innovation Cloud has created a functional digital platform that can be used for various research and demonstration needs and we will continue with new use cases.

Now that you are taking the reins, how do you intend to approach the work?
We will take a look at the structure and the programme since a large number of new partners now have joined – simply put, we will find good opportunities for partners who want to get involved. This means, for instance, examining our forms of meetings and ensuring that the areas on which we concentrate are relevant in relation to the rapid development. 

What are the biggest challenges?
Considering how fast technology development is going, it is a challenge for societal planning and policy development to follow. There will be a need for a close and trusting collaboration between industry and societal institutions. Drive Sweden is a unique platform that can make a major contribution to the transformation of the transportation system.

What can you tell us about new endeavours?
Drive Sweden has already made a name for itself internationally and we will onwards attempt to promote and establish collaborations in an international context and environment. We will also continue our work with digital infrastructure to enable the future's connected and collaborative transport. And we will work with policies, community development and business models that include transportation of both goods and people.

What do people out there need to know about Drive Sweden? 
There is a lot of talk about autonomous vehicles today, but the scope of our work reaches much further. Our work to contribute to the development of a digitalised and automated transportation system focuses on how new services are developed, how we can travel together and how policies must be developed, among other things. Simply put: how can we make it possible for technology to contribute to sustainable, safe and efficient society?

You still spend 20 per cent of the time with CLOSER, which works with freight transport efficiency. How can the two be combined? 
I will, first and foremost, help and assist the new programme director in CLOSER to advance the work and I will remain a part of the programme leadership, but in a background role. My new combined role also make it possible for us to develop synergies between Drive Sweden and CLOSER.

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Jan Hellåker, newly appoint Chairman for Drive Sweden, how would you summarise your job so far at Drive Sweden?
It has been a fantastic experience to lead this important work during the initial years. We began as a typical Swedish transportation project with the 'usual' actors that are always involved in such efforts. However, the fact that we created something that now attracts five times as many partners, more than a third of which are international, and a quarter are companies that did not exist when we started, is proof of several things. It shows how exciting and dynamic the development of future mobility is and that we have built something together that the surrounding world thinks is a good collaborative platform for innovation.

What do you think is important for your successor to consider?
She, and the entire programme, must continue to be sensitive to changes within mobility development, on all levels.  I am certain that we will see even more changes in technical and commercial areas alike. And of course, in my new role as Chairman, I will do what I can to help out!