Ingredients: Ambassador and Embassy staff; Consul General and staff; local Swedes and school kids; food, drink, good conversation with officials and entrepreneurs; and, garnish with entertainment.
Directions: Simmer for several days, stir occasionally and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

June 6, 2014 was more than a memorable day in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sweden’s national day was celebrated for five days, beginning on June 5 at San Francisco’s City Hall. There, before an entourage of Swedes and officials including Ambassador Björn Lyrvall and Consul General Barbro Osher, the Swedish flag was unfurled from the front balcony by the city’s chief of protocol, Charlotte Maillard Schultz.
Then everyone crossed the street to Civic Center Plaza where Chef Pelle’s food truck served free coffee and Swedish pancakes while people gathered for photos in front of the “Sweden on the Road” bus parked nearby.
Thanks to Consul General Osher’s arrangements, the ambassador had time to meet with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and California Governor Jerry Brown to discuss mutually improving business — the governor was very interested in Sweden’s environmental example, and the mayor in Sweden’s Vision Zero pedestrian safety program, which the city is now adopting.


TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)
Thursday afternoon provided a helpful Swedish perspective on the TTIP between the European Union and the United States. This was presented at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, which recently produced its excellent report, “Europe and the Bay Area,” on the potential mutual benefits of the treaty, initiated by President Obama and emphasized last year during his visit to Sweden.
Sean Randolph, president of the institute, put into perspective the magnitude of this trade — Asia is currently the U.S.’s largest trading partner by some 40 percent; NAFTA (Mexico and Canada) is second with about half that, and Europe, for now, is a distant third. Because we have so many common values and advancements with countries in the EU, however, it is likely these ratios could change considerably under TTIP.
In his remarks, Ambassador Lyrvall said that while Sweden ranks 12th in overall trade with the U.S., Sweden has the largest per capita investment in the U.S. — 120 Swedish companies in California have created more than 330,000 jobs here. Because Europe and the U.S. are the largest free trading economies, with similar focus on human rights, property and democracy, the potential of TTIP to create two million new jobs, stimulate education, research and innovation, boosting entrepreneurism could dwarf the success of previous trading zones.
He listed three goals for TTIP: 1) aim high to produce a tariff-less free trade zone; 2) accommodate common values and find ways to mediate areas of social disagreement; and 3) strengthen our exchange of ideas, cultures and goods.
The U.S. TTIP negotiator Skip Jones agreed with the ambassador on the goal of creating a free trade zone and eliminating all tariffs. He acknowledged the desire to include and enhance all service providers and pay special attention to small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs who can grow our economies rapidly. However, he also recognized that the difficulty will occur in the agricultural and pharmacological sectors, as well as in respecting and reforming regulations.
Sweden’s TTIP coordinator, Magnus Rydén, echoed much of his colleague’s observations, especially to abolish tariffs, particularly for cars, chemicals, ICT and pharmaceuticals. He added that this new trade agreement must not only set a new, high standard for the future but also be expandable to incorporate other countries that may wish to meet the requirements.

Perspectives from both high tech and consumer goods
Other panelists, Liselotte Shafiee representing the service sector, and Katarina Bonde with perspectives from both high tech and wine (consumables) provided additional advice to the negotiators and audience of nearly 100 interested people.
Bonde reminded all that the cloud, for commercial and personal large data transfers, has already presaged the future, and must be protected and considered a model for international collaboration. But it will require negotiation and diligence. As vineyard and vintner owner, she expressed the frustration of food producers who cannot sell the same packaged product on both sides of the Atlantic because the laws are not uniform. In California, with the most stringent wine rules, it may be easier but no less costly to adapt to European standards. Ultimately such a vision requires smart collaboration for greater productivity.
The negotiators agreed that persistence and flexibility are required. Rydén emphasized that the treaty must be transparent and open; standards should be raised rather than lowered to find common agreement; and that we must accommodate global supply/value chains and international flows of big data.
The questions were as fascinating as the preceding positions. Asked how high TTIP is among U.S. priorities — since he is negotiating simultaneously both for transatlantic and transasiatic trade — Jones said he is trying to advance on both fronts simultaneously. Another attendee recommended that they must scientifically analyze the purpose and particulars of all rules and regulations and then create criteria by which to include only the best, necessary and most useful uniform regulations. And, as expected, the topic of privacy in the transfer of big data was of concern.
After such a hefty discussion, people couldn’t wait to get to the delicious refreshments and cordial conversations on less weighty matters.

Bus Tour of Innovative Companies
On Sweden Day, the “Sweden on the Road” bus tour, arranged by Gabriella Augustsson of the Embassy and by Anne Lidgard of Vinnova at Stanford, took everyone to Silicon Valley to visit and learn from innovative companies. The day was filled with scintillating discussions at Nordic Innovation House, Google, Ericsson’s Silicon Valley Research Center and Tesla. It was interesting how distinct yet complementary were the issues learned at all visits.
At the Nordic Innovation House they learned from the emigrant entrepreneurs that while at home nationalistic competitiveness is significant, in Silicon Valley — home of risk and reward — the Nordic identity is more important, for it allows young business people to mix and learn without silos or barriers. It was also noted that while failure at home is socially penalizing; here the emphasis is not upon the failure but on the lessons learned from the failure that will push success.
While everyone enjoyed the tour of the Googleplex and the opportunity to experience Google Glass, the visitors were mightily impressed by the many ideas originated by the employees themselves. They are allowed up to 20 percent of their paid time to be spent working on projects of passion. The other takeaway was learning how important the free flow of information within a company has to do with success. Even the open office design facilitates this value. Whether physically or virtually, employees are encouraged to mix, mingle and exchange ideas across disciplines. And this was practiced even at the highest level of the company: Every week the founders and top executives confidentially brief their global employees on the issues and solutions affecting the company. The variety of dining, sports, hobby and exercise activities offered for free to all employees round the clock is amazing, too. Where do I sign up!
At Ericsson we received a lesson in exponentiation to appreciate the unlimited compounded growth in data expected in the near future. Ericsson Silicon Valley is the think tank leading the company. With the ever-increasing significance of data telecommunications and distributed processing at their radio towers, they are helping companies and individuals put off the day that data overwhelms us. Their affiliation with Facebook and purchase of Microsoft’s Media Center technology enhance their strategic position.

Visit to Tesla
Finally, it was off to visit the Tesla plant in Fremont. Peter Carlsson, vice president of supply chain logistics and board member of SACC-SF/SV, shared a view of innovation from one of the most successful disruptive creations: the fully electric car. The founder, Elon Musk, believed so deeply that electricity could be both more powerful and sustainable than petroleum-based fuels — and in his other transformative company, SpaceX — that during the depth of the recession he spent his last $30 million on employee salaries and recouped it all when both companies succeeded. And now he is even willing to open source his patents to speed the transformation to sustainable transportation.
What is most fascinating with the current cars and their future falcon-winged affordable sedan, is that their stationary charger, which provides a full tank of fuel daily for continually extended ranges, is itself one of the most remarkable inventions. If every home and factory with solar panels used these, they could operate well into the night more profitably.
We continued discussing the implications of our visits as the bus passed along the beautiful freeway back to the city. There, the evening celebration of Sweden’s national day was just beginning with a concert at the Church of Sweden in San Francisco. This provided Ambassador Lyrvall an opportunity to thank everyone for their warm welcome and stimulating ideas. He reminded the congregation that each of them is Sweden’s true ambassador with far greater outreach to one’s neighbors than the official embassy staff could ever muster.
He recalled the colony of New Sweden founded on this continent 376 years ago and that for 230 years Sweden has had the longest official relationship of any nation with the U.S., since Sweden was the first to sign a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the fledgling U.S. after the Revolutionary War. This shared history paired with shared values and Sweden’s leadership in transparent innovation provide great pride and promise for the ultimate success of the TTIP. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in congratulating Swedes and Sweden on the anniversary of its constitution (June 6, 1809), stated that it “set forth the principles of democracy and freedom to which all nations should aspire. Those shared values continue to form the bedrock of the close friendship between Sweden and the United States today.”
The evening’s celebration began with delicious homemade cakes, cookies and refreshments, with ladies bedecked in their regional or national costume, and it ended with a beautiful concert.
Saturday was a family day with refreshments and entertainment at IKEA. In the evening a nostalgic look at Sweden was enjoyed in a showing of the 1980s film “Vi är bäst! (We are best!) by Lukas Moodysson, about the experiences of three ostracized teenage girls who find themselves by forming a punk band. A reception followed at the San Rafael Theater with delicious wines, hors d’oeuvres and convivial conversations.
As the embassy staff boarded their bus to continue their road trip, the next morning the rest of us rolled over for our Sunday morning snooze, wishing them a hearty four-fold hurrah for coming to the Bay Area and providing us such a special opportunity to renew our spirit on Sweden Day 2014.

By Ted Olsson