Sweden's high-quality scientific and technological development is renowned throughout the world. Technological products invented or developed by Swedish firms include the self-aligning ball bearing, the cream separator, the three-phase electric motor, and a refrigerator without moving parts. Sweden's more recent applications of sophisticated technology range from powder metallurgy to the Hasselblad camera and the Viggen jet fighter. Six of Sweden's largest industrial corporations are engineering companies: Volvo, SAAB-Scania, ASEA, Electrolux, SKF, and L.M. Ericsson. In 1998, high-tech exports were valued at $13.7 billion and accounted for 20% of manufactured exports.
State-financed research, centering on the universities, is directed by the Council for Planning and Coordination of Research. Long-term industrial research and development is the responsibility of the government through the National Board for Technological Development. Swedish students graduating with science and engineering degrees account for 38% of all university students. In 1987–97, expenditures for research and development totaled 3.8% of GNP; 3,826 scientists and engineers and 3,166 technicians per million people were engaged in research and development.
Institutions that have played an important role in the advancement of science, both in Sweden and throughout the world, are the Nobel Foundation, which sponsors annual awards in chemistry, physics, and physiology or medicine, as well as for peace, literature, and economic science; the Royal Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739 in Stockholm; the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, founded in 1919 at Stockholm; and the Karolinska Institute, founded in 1810 in Stockholm, specializing in medical research. Sweden has 18 universities that offer courses in basic and applied sciences. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 38% of university enrollment.