The Polhem Prize


The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers hosts an annual gala at which the prestigious Polhem Prize is officially awarded to the year’s winning nominee. In addition to the awards ceremony, the purpose of the gala is to publicly acknowledge the outstanding work performed by Sweden’s engineers and innovators, and to promote Sweden as a country in the forefront of innovations and technical entrepreneurship.

Solution / Results

For Step2 it’s been a highly stimulating challenge to create an annual event that never fails to captivate the distinguished guests at the Polhem Gala. With the aid of unusual venues (such as underground road tunnels), creative gala themes, state-of-the-art video productions and spectacular entertainment, Step2 has contributed to a marked reinforcement of the Polhem Gala brand.

Step2 has been responsible for the production of the gala every year since 2009.


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The Polhem Gala 2017

In 2017 the Polhem Gala was once again held at The National Museum of Science and Technology, but this time in the museum’s newly built event hall area. The theme for the evening was traffic safety innovations since the winner of the 2016 Polhem Prize, Lennart Lindblad, had invented and refined the three-point car seatbelt and awarded that year’s prize for his lifetime of service to the improvement of vehicle safety.

With state-of-the-art video productions, animations and staged news reporter video feeds illustrating critical technological breakthroughs over the years, the audience was guided through Sweden’s unique traffic safety evolution. This journey of innovations started at the

beginning of the last century and continued into the future, featuring revolutionary traffic safety prototypes that we most likely will see in action in the years ahead.

The Gala’s programme host Isabelle McAllister, together with the well-known innovator Håkan Lans, presented and discussed various future scenarios from a historical perspective. Cirkus Cirkör entertained the audience with a custom-made acrobatic performance and Pontus Frithiof orchestrated an eye- and mouth-watering five-star three-course dinner.

The 2017 Polhem Prize was awarded by King Carl XVI Gustaf to Daniel Stenberg for his innovative URL-based data transfer software cURL.

The Polhem Gala 2016

In 2016 we fashioned the event as a film awards gala with the conference delegates being taken on a journey through the movie industry’s technological evolution. The nominees themselves were promoted as movie stars on posters and screens, with Hollywood-inspired video news flashes featuring award winners from previous years and providing fuel for intriguing dinner conversations.

The scenography included an orchestra playing well-known movie music from past decades, with real movie stars putting in appearances on the big screens and sending their good wishes to the nominees and the audience. It also incorporated technologies such as cromaki, steadicam, bullet time and dolly zoom, thereby creating a spellbinding high-end movie framework to the stage performances.

The Polhem Gala 2015

In 2015 the Polhem Gala took place in Alfred Nobel’s dynamite factory at Vinterviken in Stockholm. The theme and entertainment concept was this time built around the history of Swedish engineering and innovations. The story was visualised in Watch-Out

and accompanied by high-octane humoristic circus-media break-outs performed by Sirqus Alfon. The Grand Finale consisted of a magnificent mouth-watering three-course gala dinner composed by Master Chef Markus Aujalay.

The Polhem Gala 2013

The Polhem Gala undertook an adventurous underground excursion in 2013 when it was held in the deep rugged road tunnel of Norra länken, just days before this subterranean motorway link was opened up for traffic. The choice of venue posed many formidable challenges, such as the task of heating up this vast cold and damp environment from 9 to 20 degrees Celsius. The tunnel also had to be air-sealed around the festive area to create optimal conditions for sound and controlled heating.

As has often been said, “the bigger the challenge, the greater the reward”, and the Polhem Gala of 2013 was certainly no exception to that rule. With magicians and illusionists Charlie Caper and Erik Rosales spellbinding the audience with a

sensational specially-designed performance, the gala and prize ceremony was spectacular in every sense of the word and hugely appreciated by all the guests.

The year’s Polhem Prize was awarded to Petra Wadström in commemoration of her achievements and brilliant innovation Solvatten, which purifies water in a portable solar-driven container holding 10 litre of liquid. This ground-breaking innovation will have an immense impact on the supply of clean water and the health problems caused by dirty water in poor countries and desolate areas. Royal Industrial Designer Prince Carl Philip handed over the prize at the Prize Ceremony.

The Polhem Gala 2011

In 2011, to mark the 150th anniversary of The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers, the Polhem Gala was organised as a jubilee gala and held at The National Museum of Science and Technology. The theme for the evening was a journey through time starting from the formation of the association and leading up to the present day, with the story focused mainly on the innovations and technical breakthroughs achieved by Swedish engineers over the past 150 years. It was told through video clips, image galleries, speeches, musical performances and innovative entertainment.

With a winning blend of elegance and humour, well-known author, lecturer and TV personality Karin Adelsköld acted as our highly appreciated storyteller and gala hostess.

One of the highlights of the evening was the speech given by Sweden’s one and only astronaut, Christer Fuglesang, who had carried the Polhem commemorative coin with him up into space. Then, shortly after his speech, Crown Princess Victoria awarded the Polhem Prize to the winning nominee.