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"Innovation truly stands out when it is successfully implemented in industry or society” - Björn Samel, Vice President Smart Hardware at RISE

June 19, 2024

At Ynvisible, we collaborate with partners, customers and suppliers to foster innovation in the e-paper display industry. We know how valuable their insights, recommendations, tools and technologies are, as these play an important part in driving Ynvisible forward. At the same time, we also know how important our community is, so as we aim to give back, we have started an interview series featuring key thought leaders from our partner network.  

Björn Samel is the Vice President for Smart Hardware at the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), one of Ynvisible’s long-time partners. He brings over 15 years of research and development experience and more than 20 years in industrial and applied R&D projects, product development, innovation, implementation, tech transfer, small-scale production, and quality assurance.

Björn leads the Smart Hardware Department at RISE, an innovation and technology provider. The department focuses on business areas such as nanoelectronics and semiconductors, sensor systems, fiber optics, and printed electronics. Overall, the department provides cutting-edge R&D and innovative developments for tomorrow’s digital and connected solutions in various application domains, including medtech, automotive, Industry 4.0, and more.

You have extensive experience with RISE across multiple areas of business. How do you see RISE’s evolution and what motivates you in your current role?

RISE has emerged from 34 institutes and embodies a multifaceted approach to applied research and innovation. In my current role I find immense satisfaction in contributing to sustainable growth and renewal in the business community. For our future evolution I believe the following building blocks will be important for a Research and Technology Organization (RTO) like RISE :

  • Innovation Excellence: RISE thrives on innovation. By fostering a culture of creativity, collaboration, risk-taking, and continuous learning, we encourage breakthroughs that shape industries and drive progress.
  • World-Class Ecosystems: We recognize that impactful research doesn’t happen in isolation. Building collaborative ecosystems—connecting academia, industry, and government—is essential. These ecosystems facilitate knowledge exchange, interdisciplinary projects, innovation and practical applications.
  • Cutting-Edge Research: We commit to staying at the forefront of knowledge and competence which drive technical innovation and relevance. By conducting state-of-the-art research, RISE contributes to solving real-world challenges and advancing technology.
  • Inspirational Workplace: We understand that motivated, fulfilled employees are key to success. Therefore I would want to see investments in creating an inspiring and empowering work environment — where autonomy, purpose, and growth intersect. This approach attracts top talent and fuels passion.

What does innovation look like to you when it comes to smart hardware solutions? In a world so crowded with increasingly new products and technologies, what stands out to you as innovative?

From my perspective, innovation truly stands out when it is successfully implemented in industry or society. In the realm of smart hardware, we believe that sustainability, circularity, and energy self-sufficiency will be key enablers for future innovations in a fully connected world. These advancements will drive next-generation applications in various domains, including smart homes, smart cities, personalized health, advanced lighting, electrification, energy management, and smart industries.

What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing the smart hardware industry, in your opinion? What about opportunities?

The challenges faced by the smart hardware industry and RISE Smart Hardware can be quite diverse. However, we collectively navigate the ongoing transformations often referred to as twin or triple transitions. For us, these challenges represent opportunities.  

The key question is how we can develop and deliver hardware in an increasingly digitized world, contributing to higher levels of digitalization while simultaneously enhancing energy efficiency.  

This involves reducing power consumption, prolonging device lifetimes, integrating predictive health monitoring, harvesting energy from the environment, and selecting sustainable materials to minimize waste and energy consumption throughout the product life cycle.  

Our goal is to adopt a circular approach, decrease the use of harmful substances, and increase the use of renewable materials in the future of electronics and their ubiquitously connected devices.

What impact do you think smart hardware will have on everyday consumer life and business operations in the near future? What role do you think e-paper displays may play?

I believe smart hardware will play an increasingly vital role in both consumer products and business operations. Imagine a component in your car notifying you when it’s nearing the end of its life and suggesting a visit to the repair workshop. This would revolutionize service and maintenance for trains, airplanes, and other vehicles.

E-paper electronics and displays could be the key enablers for a breakthrough in ubiquitous IoT applications. Envision a future where 100% circular, fully self-powered, and sustainable paper-based devices are commonplace.

What role do partnerships and collaborations play in RISE’s strategy? What about the partnership with Ynvisible, specifically?

Partnerships and collaborations are crucial for us at RISE Smart Hardware. By working with our partners, we engage in applied research, innovation ecosystems, and accelerate the development of new services and products.  

Our collaboration with Ynvisible enables us to pool resources, infrastructure and support each other in commercializing e-paper displays. This partnership brings together world-leading domain experts, fostering a common language to address challenges that arise when translating research into market-ready products.  

Additionally, Ynvisible is a valued member of our Printed Electronics prototyping ecosystem, where multiple stakeholders collaborate to share and generate new knowledge and innovation.

What are some essential sustainability principles and practices in product development/manufacturing, that you take into account at RISE and consider to be critical for the wider product ecosystem?

Currently, we are advancing the field of circular electronics with a holistic approach, focusing on both greening electronics and leveraging electronics for environmental benefits. This involves innovative design and production methods using renewable materials, such as paper-based PCBs and nanocellulose batteries sourced from the forestry industry. Additionally, we are developing more efficient electronics, components, and modules with integrated intelligence to minimize losses, save energy, and provide predictive health management by communicating their remaining useful life.

For more information, please join us at the Circular Business Lab for Electronics at RISE

How do you envision the future of RISE’s Smart Hardware Department?

The future for RISE Smart Hardware is bright and exciting, driven by the growing demand for sophisticated, tailor-made solutions. I envision us solidifying and expanding our position as a world-leading innovation partner within the aforementioned innovation ecosystems. RISE Smart Hardware, along with Sweden, has a unique opportunity to build emerging technologies and strategic alliances.  

For us, key areas of strategic importance include circular and advanced electronics, intelligent sensor technologies, semiconductors, fiber optics, organic electronics, quantum technologies, battery technology, and advanced materials.

More interviews will follow soon on our blog. If you’d like to recommend someone for an interview, please reach out to us at pr@ ynvisible.com.

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