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Skapa by Saab Lands in Point Loma

INNOVATION: Incubator to Apply Advanced Tech to National Security

SAN DIEGO – Skapa by Saab is the name of an accelerator from the Swedish jet aircraft builder and diversified defense contractor Saab. The business chose San Diego above other potential locations, recently setting up shop near the water in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood.

That office includes a command center where employees can control unmanned systems.

The Swedish word “skapa” means to create, to make or to shape. In a statement, the company said Skapa underscores Saab’s adaptive and forward-thinking approach, developing local intellectual property at a rapid pace.

The incubator will take up emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, resilient mesh networks and robotics. In many ways, Skapa is about software.

Skapa employees and dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new Saab facility in Point Loma. Photo courtesy Skapa by Saab

Proximity to Customers and Business Partners

“One of value propositions of Skapa is to innovate alongside the end user in the operational environment,” said Michael Brasseur, general manager of Skapa by Saab, in a recent interview. In other words, Skapa works with fighting forces in the places where they operate. Brasseur noted the San Diego region is home to several potential customers, including the U.S. Marine Corps, Naval Special Warfare Command, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, NAVWAR (the Navy’s information technology command), NIWC Pacific (its cutting-edge Point Loma lab) and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Michael Brasseur
General Manager
Skapa by Saab

The region also includes a cluster of defense contractors who are potential partners, Brasseur said. What’s more, universities such as UC San Diego are a great source for engineering talent and AI specialists.

“It’s all about talent and this is an easy place to attract talent,” Brasseur said.

The business is starting small (Saab representatives declined to say how many employees they brought to San Diego) and is “staffing up very, very quickly,” Brasseur said.

“There is a really exciting tech scene emerging in San Diego,” the executive said, noting the presence of General Atomics and Qualcomm. He added San Diego has several promising young companies, such as aviation specialists Shield AI and Firestorm.

Leveraging Experience in Unmanned Systems

Skapa representatives and marketing materials said the business plans to develop innovative solutions quickly to help solve the challenges of a changing world. Those challenges include warfare in Europe.

Saab announced its arrival in San Diego in conjunction with last month’s AUVSI Xponential trade show at the San Diego Convention Center. AUVSI stands for Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International.

One more reason San Diego is ideal for Skapa: the community is a center for unmanned aircraft and other unmanned systems. Occasionally, large unmanned surface vehicles owned by the U.S. Navy transit San Diego Bay.

Brasseur is a Navy veteran, previously serving as commodore of Task Force 59.

Located in Bahrain, the military command specialized in unmanned vehicles and artificial intelligence.

Currently Brasseur has a second job as vice president and chief strategy officer at Saab Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Saab AB.

In conjunction with the launch of Skapa, Saab has been demonstrating enhancements to a boat it has named Enforcer 3.1. Saab took one of its manned systems, its battle-tested Combat Boat 90, and made it an autonomous test platform.

Enforcer 3.1 has open architecture with an ability to integrate capabilities from third parties, Brasseur said. In a way, the watercraft is “like your iPhone” in that it can run applications by other software developers.

In 2023, Saab AB reported sales of $4.7 billion (51.6 billion Swedish krona) and employed 21,600 people. It has operations in 30 countries. Though many Americans associate the name Saab with automobiles, the company left the auto business several decades ago.

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