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R&D and the next generation, the key to a better and brighter tomorrow

What we do today sets the stage for everything that will be possible tomorrow. This is true both for the evolution of technology and for inspiring the next generation of thinkers and innovators. The future is in the hands of the young, and we are committed to helping them explore the full potential of limitless connectivity.

R&D Italy Head and Head of Optical development in BNEW/EU HW/PEU Transport

R&D and the next generation, the key to a better and brighter tomorrow

R&D Italy Head and Head of Optical development in BNEW/EU HW/PEU Transport

R&D Italy Head and Head of Optical development in BNEW/EU HW/PEU Transport

Looking back, the history of human evolution has been inextricably linked to the development of technology. From the discovery of the technological potential of fire over a quarter-million years ago to the use of watermills for energy production in the Middle Ages, technology has influenced human life and advanced society and civilization. Today, we can't even imagine life without it permeating our daily life, rapidly evolving.

At Ericsson, we firmly believe and often demonstrate that digitalization has the potential to be a silver bullet solution for moving us beyond today's shared sustainability and economic challenges. Digitalization has done nothing short of redefining and revolutionizing how we interact with one another and how we connect, learn, socialize, and experience the world. With more than 8.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide for a population of 8 billion, we are more connected than ever. We are adopting 5G faster than any previous mobile technology, and we expect to go from 1 billion subscriptions this year to 5 billion by 2028. Indeed, 5G is more than just another generation of mobile networks; it has the potential to transform the world as we know it. Self-driving cars, industrial robots, and remote surgery are no longer figments of a sci-fi writer's imagination. Instead, they have jumped from the pages of fiction into our daily lives, roaming our streets and altering how we care for ourselves.

However, none of this technology appears by chance or overnight. Instead, it usually takes about a decade of dedicated work from hundreds of engineers and scientists to design a new mobile generation. I know from experience that trying to anticipate all the challenges and opportunities society will face in the next 5 or 10 years is difficult. Even more complex than that is theorizing how emerging technologies could address these challenging, and deciding from there how we should concentrate our efforts.

I am from Italy and here, we have a saying: non rimandare a domani quello che puoi fare oggi. It roughly translates to "do not put off until tomorrow that which you can do today." It's something I've heard many times since childhood and has stuck with me to this day. I believe it also accurately describes our work in the three R&D centers we have here in Italy, in Pisa, Genoa, and Pagani. The truth is that every innovation has its own backstory, with many great people coming together to challenge conventional ways of thinking. Equally important, though, is ensuring that this story of continuous innovation that has been at the heart of Ericsson continues into the future. Since 1876, we've played an important role in pioneering Europe's innovation by developing game-changing technologies, such as 5G, IoT, and cloud. To further drive the region's digital agenda, we must create a culture of innovation that will spur on the next generation of creative thinkers, problem-solvers, and game-changers.

A lot of this work relies on creativity – on the act of taking things that already exist, but combining them in previously unknown ways, or taking them one step further by adding to them a new element. Especially here, in Italy, we look at R&D as an art of creation – so much so that we oftentimes refer to ourselves oftentimes “trovatori”. The history of the trovatori (troubadours) dates back to medieval Italy when, through their poetry and songs, they captured all the elements of importance in society: the love troubles, but also the political quarrels, the historic changes and the social strata. They took in life as it was and, by mixing it together with ingenuity, they created something that rose above it. Similarly, for us, finding and combining the right elements – technology, ethics, humanity – we create new answers that we can leave for the next generation.

This is because our work is frequently predicated on the future - what will happen tomorrow, what challenges we will face as a society, and what we can start doing today to ensure that we have the right solutions ready for tomorrow. But all of this requires hard work and technological creativity, whilst making sure our work will be passed on to the next generation of researchers, thinkers, and innovators. Everything I've seen in my career has convinced me that we don't have all the answers right now. Instead, we can begin by asking the right questions and training today's young talent to provide solutions in the future.

For this very reason, we have strong ties with the schools in our communities. We are always taught to keep our eyes on the future, so keeping close to those who will make up tomorrow makes sense. Inspiring the next generation to participate is critical to the survival of the way we do our work. This autumn, we joined forces to celebrate the European Researchers' Night. Every year, thousands of researchers and institutions from across the European Union participate in this European Commission-backed initiative to create opportunities for researchers and citizens to meet and share scientific knowledge and culture. It is an event that bridges the gap that sometimes exists between researchers and the public, inviting the two groups to come together and learn more about each other.

Making our world a better and more sustainable place to live is one of Ericsson's key drivers. We showed students the critical work we do to support the evolution of 5G, enabling innovative solutions for smart manufacturing, transportation, e-health, and cybersecurity. We also study the future of 6G networks that will open new technological avenues for immersive, ubiquitous, and sensory digital experiences. 6G will be an evolution of 5G expanded with groundbreaking new technologies. It will enable us to introduce the Internet of senses, allowing us to relish a rose's scent or feel silk's softness via a computer. This innovation will allow experiences unimaginable today. Sharing this vision of the future with the young generation is always exciting, and our demos and practical workshops held for the European Researchers' Night captivated their attention for hours.

I am always incredibly proud when we can open our centers' doors to the public. On this occasion, we hosted over 100 middle and high school students, eager to learn more and ask many questions. On the same occasion, next to Rome, Ericsson volunteers also joined our partner Frascati Scienza to present Digital Lab - a specially curated program delivered in partnership with schools all across the world provide young change-makers with the chance to innovate, collaborate, and code in a fun, inspirational, and educational way.

On the one hand, I am delighted whenever we get the chance to share some of the vital work we do in the important field of R&D. It's an opportunity to share our enthusiasm and passion for technology with today's youth, who may become tomorrow's researchers. On the other hand, I treasure moments of inspiration. The power to shape our future will soon need to pass from these teams to other younger hands - and their desire to follow this career path, to battle the unknown and the uncertain on a daily basis, and to find answers to questions that do not yet exist, often begins in small moments like these.

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