SBI, the Swedish Institute of Steel Construction, was founded in late 1967, and the work began in early 1968 (makes SBI the oldest European steel construction institute). The original purpose of establishing SBI was to increase the knowledge within the construction industry about steel as a construction material. After the Second World War the use of steel as framing material in buildings almost stopped completely, mainly due to the great demand for steel in other industrial areas. Education, research and development, and information about steel construction were neglected for over two decades, and the steel construction knowledge and experience was almost forgotten. On an IVA initiative, and with support from the steel and building industries, SBI was established to rebuild the Swedish knowledge about steel construction.
During the years the target areas have varied depending on the current needs. In the early years the focus was to establish general R&D and education. In the 70'th development was focussed on thin plate technologies, and the results were shown on roofs and facades on industry buildings. A major effort in the 80'th was multi-storey buildings with combinations of steel and pre-cast concrete. In the 90'th were the main development areas bridge construction and housing. Today, the basic steel construction research is located at the Universities, whilst the information and applied research and development have developed to be core SBI activities.
From the beginning steel producers have been major financiers, but SBI has also a wide member base with other companies active on the steel construction market, e.g. steel fabricators. Other faithful members are companies not only working with steel, e.g. building contractors and consulting engineers. This member width has implied a successful development of best practice using steel, and has strengthened the central role of SBI in the construction industry. The earlier fixed Governmental research-funding basis has disappeared, so today the R&D operations depend on different specific research funds, which in a larger extent result in European collaboration projects.
The annual steel construction conference of SBI and Sweden, Stålbyggnadsdagen, has been arranged since 1968 in different places in Sweden. The conference is an important meeting point for the actors on the Swedish steel construction market. Since 1975 SBI award the prestigious prize Silverbalken (the silver beam), for distinguishing efforts developing Swedish steel construction.