Volume XI | December
Holiday Cocktail Party, Interview with Dr. Maria Brogren, Member Spotlight, Business Services, SACC-DC Annual Meeting, Renew Your Membership
Since 1989 SACC-DC has offered a platform for developing U.S. – Swedish lucrative commercial ventures and professional opportunities through our network and business and social events. The SACC-DC Newsletter will help you stay on top of what’s happening in the Swedish-American business community and find the perfect opportunity to create new business connections in the greater Washington D.C. area and Mid-Atlantic region.
From the Executive Director
Dear Friends,

I would like to thank everyone who has supported us this year, whether it is by simply maintaining your membership, attending our events (which have been fewer this year), donating your time on our committees and board or contributed in other ways to that we can continue to strengthen the business ties between Sweden and the U.S. and offer great networking opportunities. While the pandemic continues to challenge us in many ways, I am confident that our planning and preparations in the making will make 2022 an even stronger and successful year and creating even better value for our members which is always our goal.

In this newsletter, we have insights from two influential and interesting members of our community, Dr. Maria Brogren who is the Innovation and Science counselor at the Swedish Embassy, and Kevin Holst and his remarkable work at Capitol Hill.

From all of us at SACC DC, we wish you a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

Captured Moments From the SACC-DC Holiday Cocktail Party
Thank you to everyone who attended our Holiday Cocktail Party at House of Sweden on Dec 16! It was an evening in true Christmas spirit in a beautifully decorated environment, with delicious Swedish Christmas treats and beverages, Lucia procession and a silent auction with gifts from Caps player
Nicklas Bäckström, luxury mattress maker Hästens, Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons hotel. Special thanks to our main sponsor Volvo Group, Barnes & Thornburg for sponsoring the Glögg table and the Embassy of Sweden for the space.
Interview with Dr. Maria Brogren, Science and Innovation Counselor at the Embassy of Sweden
Tell us about yourself, your background, and your role at the Embassy of Sweden.
My name is Maria Brogren and I’m the Science and innovation counselor at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C. My work focuses on promoting qualitative collaboration between Sweden and the U.S. in the fields of science, innovation, and higher education, both between our two nations and between different actors within each country. As the area – science, innovation, and higher education – is very broad, we focus specifically on collaboration in the fields of green transition, digitalization, and life science. To be concrete, my duties involve attending meetings, talking at seminars, and highlighting Swedish strengths, but also to keep track of what is happening in these areas in the US and report home to Sweden.

I have a so-called triple-helix background, from academia, the public sector and business. I have a PhD in Solid state Physics from Uppsala University on a thesis on solar energy systems. In the public sector, I have previously worked at the Swedish Energy Agency and the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. I have also worked at the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences, as a lobbyist at the Swedish Construction Federation, which is the construction industry's trade and employers’ association, and at WSP, a global technology and analysis consultancy firm.

Sweden has a reputation of being a very entrepreneurial and innovative country. How do you notice that in your work?
It is noticeable that Sweden has a good reputation in the US, and we definitely benefit from that when promoting research and innovation cooperation. We are a more interesting partner because of this, especially in the area of innovations for green transition, I would say. At the same time, Sweden has recently lost its position as the world’s most innovative country to Switzerland. Our good reputation still opens many doors, but we cannot relax and think that we will always be at the top. We need to make efforts to maintain and develop our innovation skills.

Sweden is also prominent within Clean Tech and renewable energy. How does that reflect your work with science and innovation here in the U.S.?
I think it makes sense for us to continue to focus on sustainability as Sweden is seen as a kind of role model in this area. As a Swede, I also notice just by living here in Washington, D.C., that things that are taken for granted in Sweden, such as sorting and recycling your garbage, is not very widespread here. Here, I believe Swedish companies can help driving change in the US, although I believe the work on these issues needs to come through both innovations and by changing societal norms. These two parts reinforce each other, but in order for there to be a market for sustainable innovations, people's habits and behaviors need to be transformed. What we are trying to do in Sweden is to work on both fronts at the same time, and especially, to eliminate obstacles for desired behaviors by changing rules and regulations that counteract sustainable innovation. One of my assignments right now is to report on the United States' ability to develop new rules that are aligned with the technological development in the area of green transition. The mismatch between the speed of technological progress and rule-making to go with that change is called the pacing-problem, and we have found several examples of outdated regulations that are solving the green transition in the US. Here, Sweden can offer to collaborate on regulatory innovation, as well as on technological.

In April 2022, SACC-DC together with the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce, will host a Scandinavian Innovation event focusing on sustainability. What can the U.S. and the Scandinavian countries learn from each other when it comes to sustainable innovations?
Sweden has come a long way, both in the transition in society and in innovations in industry. Here, the U.S. can learn from how Sweden as a country has made this journey. It may be particularly relevant for individual states or cities to take advantage of lessons learnt from Sweden , as it tends to be more difficult for the U.S. as a country to carry out major changes. In November, we visited the Commissioner of Environment in the city of Boston. She was interested in learning how to recycle household waste and particularly how to extract biogas in that handling. They were also interested in the development of district heating, and especially low-temperature systems, which is an area in which some municipalities in Sweden have recent experiences. Thus, Swedish municipalities should be able to refer the city of Boston to Swedish system designers and to possibly also to Swedish technology suppliers. In this way, we are working to promote sustainable Swedish innovations in the U.S.
Sweden, in our turn, can learn from successful U.S. projects by cherry-picking state or city initiatives what have proven to be successful. For example, self-driving vehicles is an innovation where the state of Arizona has come a very long way, and from which Sweden should be able to learn a lot.

Is there anything else you want our members to know about you and your work?
On January 31, the Embassy, the Royal Institute of Technology, and the City of Stockholm, hosts the event - "The Stockholm Model - a Story of Successful Partnerships", at House of Sweden. The event will explore societal challenges and the value of partnership to meet sustainability goals. A combination of keynotes speeches, panels, roundtable discussions, and networking sessions will explore how links between local government, academia, and the private sector create strong foundations for sustainable development. Topics include cities as testbeds, the new generation of AI in medical research, co-creation of sustainable cities in the future, and AI and new technologies in the built environment.
I think this could be a great event for member companies from SACC-DC. I am sure it would be very interesting for those who wish to explore these topics, but it is also an opportunity to connect with prominent Swedish organizations that are working with sustainability.

Please visit https://www.kth.se/form/615d4e6efc79490013f5e1fa to learn more and register for the event.

Researched and written by Jakob Enander, Trainee
Member Spotlight: Young Professional Member Kevin Holst
We had the pleasure to interview one of our Young Professional Members, Kevin Holst. Kevin is a senior campaign advisor at New Politics, an organization which recruits, advises, and supports candidates with national service backgrounds in their pursuit of elected office. Kevin has extensive experience in political campaigns and works both with congressional candidates and incumbent members of Congress. He has previously lived in Sweden and studied at Stockholm University.
Please tell us a little about yourself, your current position, and your area of expertise.    
As it relates to SACC, I believe I have the distinction of being the only Swedish-speaking political consultant in the country. I have worked in politics for the better part of the last decade, and currently work at an organization called New Politics. We recruit and support candidates with military and civilian national service backgrounds running for office. It is hard to encapsulate my day-to-day work, as it varies so much. On any given day, I am helping candidates across the country—from Hawaii, to California, to North Carolina—navigate the complexities of their campaigns, as well as leading special projects to help advance the political careers of the members of Congress that I have already successfully helped elect.
My work is very much like working on the ground floor of a startup: you have an idea (the candidate), you must raise funds, hire a team, and scale incredibly quickly to achieve your goals (election). Many times, I am the first or second person a candidate has ever spoken to about potentially running for office, and they rely on me to be their general consultant and get them up and running. I often am the one to hire their team, set the early direction of their campaign, set up systems for effective fundraising, communications, and political outreach, and do the myriad of other things needed to help put them in the best possible position to win.
How did you end up in your current position?
There is not really one common path to getting a job like mine. Politics is a very much a business of who you know, and jobs like mine are not often posted on job boards. When I completed my education in Sweden, I returned to the US, and rather than getting an internship at a VC or finance firm like some of my friends, I decided to get an internship with the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Throughout university I worked in luxury goods, so I thought, if I could sell bags or clothing, I could sell ideas and candidates, so I started out in the fundraising department for the Party. It was during my time there that I made the connections necessary to get a job at the largest foreign policy advocacy organization in the US, and from there, a consulting firm that helps run campaigns abroad. After the 2016 election, I went to work for Congressman Seth Moulton, where we created an initiative that recruited and supported 20 Congressional candidates in the most competitive seats in the country, ultimately helping set the narrative of the 2018 cycle. It was there that I met my current boss, Emily, who recruited Seth to run for office originally, and was a partner of mine in my work in 2018. After that election cycle, she asked me to join New Politics, and I have been off to the races ever since.

What do you enjoy the most with your job and what are some of the challenges? 
Politics is a rough business, and at times, it can be very demoralizing. You pour your heart and soul into your work pushing for positive change, and, many times, find yourself up against so many systemic roadblocks that either slow or stop your work completely. There is so much distrust among the American people in government, and “politician” is viewed as a dirty word by most people, so you are often up against a ton of negative forces in your quest to elect better people and get things done.
On a more positive note, I genuinely enjoy working with people who are running for office for the right reasons. I will not work with someone if they do not align with my vision, mission, and values, and I am lucky enough where I work at an organization that allows me to be selective with the candidates and MOCs that I work with. I work with people who are seeking the job to do something with it, not just hold the job for their self-advancement, and so far, I have been proven right in the idea that electing the right people can make an impact. Democrats had been clamoring to impeach the former President for over two years, but it was a Washington Post op-ed from New Politics Members of Congress that made Speaker Pelosi initiate the impeachment process. That was a historic event, and the Speaker listened to them over others in the caucus because they spoke with the authority of Members of Congress with a demonstrated track record of putting country before party, and people before politics. It is a good morale boost to see them putting their political careers on the line to do what I believed to be the right thing and knowing that I played a small part in getting them to Washington.

As we are coming close to a new calendar year, what do you think will be focused upon in the political agenda in 2022?
Build Back Better is obviously the key legislation that the Senate is currently debating. Build Back Better will be the most transformational piece of legislation to pass Congress since the Great Society programs of the 1960s, and, in many ways, it will allow us to finally play catch up with what countries like Sweden have had for over 50 years: subsidized childcare, paid leave, universal pre-school, etc.
Now, that is not to say that Build Back Better is going to transform our system into the Swedish welfare state, it is not. But the bill will fundamentally make people’s lives better. The Administration has already made measurable accomplishments, such as cutting child poverty in half through the Child Tax Credit and Build Back Better will build upon this social stimulus. Democratic leaders are targeting Christmas for the bill to pass the Senate, and from there it would go into conference with the House, but there are a lot of roadblocks in the Senate at the moment, and I think that barring some incredibly quick and productive negotiations between the Administration and Senator Joe Manchin, we may be looking at sometime in January for the bill to pass the Senate.

Outside of Build Back Better, I believe there will be a push on voting rights legislation, and protections for abortion access if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v Wade by the end of the Court’s current term in June. With voter’s attention spans being very short, these two things may define the 2022 elections, rather than Build Back Better.

What is your connection to SACC-DC? 
I have been a member of SACC-DC since moving to DC in early 2016. I primarily use SACC-DC as my connection to Swedish culture in DC. I enjoy all the holidays celebrations, meeting Swedes in DC through SACC-DC. Sweden has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember, and all of my Swedish friends either live in Sweden or other parts of the country, so it has been great to be able to have a connection to the culture that was so transformative to my upbringing.

Researched and written by Jakob Enander, Trainee
SACC-DC Introduces New Business Services
SACC-DC has recently expanded its Business Services through the launch of B2B- Matchmaking Service and Trade Service!  
B2B-Matchmaking Service provides our member base with a matchmaking service with the aim to develop our networking segment and allow SACC-DC members to be matched with other member companies or small businesses. 
Trade Service supports SACC-DC's member base with market research services. The aim of the service is to increase our members' knowledge about specific markets and create a report to the client with information gathered about the specific market.  
The services were introduced through a Pilot Project in collaboration with our member company Blue Star Strategies. The project was performed by our two interns Julia and Alma and were a combination of both the Trade Service and the B2B Matchmaking-service. The project turned out successful, providing Blue Star Strategies with increased knowledge about the Swedish market and new business contacts. 
If you are interested to know more about our Business Services please visit: https://sacc-dc.org/services/ or contact Lotta Kramer
Save the date for the SACC-DC Annual Meeting
The 2021 Annual Meeting of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D.C. will be held virtually at 3.00 PM on Thursday, January 20, 2022, on Zoom. 

The meeting will include remarks by Dr. Maria Brogren, Head of Office of Science and Innovation at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC. 

The Annual Meeting is open to all SACC-DC members in good standing. You can renew your membership through our website or by contacting our office. If you have not already received an invitation to the event and would like to attend, please contact julia.jager@sacc-dc.org 
Remember to renew your membership for 2022
Visit membership portal to renew or our membership page to join.

SACC DC organizes many events throughout the year to give our members access to professional networking. We also tailor trade missions for Swedish companies interested in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. Whether an individual with a keen interest in or connection with Sweden living in D.C. or a company looking to establish new relationships, we can help you reach your next goal.
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