MARIA JOHANNA (NINNI) KRONBERG (1874–1949)
- from hostess in a hospitable merchant home to significant but impoverished inventor
In 1896, Ninni married merchant Erik Kronberg. The couple had no children and separated in 1925. Ninni Kronberg died in Lund; mourned by her brother, captain Gerhard Anders Berggren.
Through the marriage, an interest in the family malt factory and its processes aroused. Ninni, who had no academic training, along with her husband further developed A J M Jensen's method of producing yeast, which resulted in a patent to Erik Kronberg in 1919.
After the divorce, Ninni moved to Skåne and worked with the family Westrup on Rydsgård where she continued her experiments. These led up to eight different Swedish patents including complementary solutions, such as the production of milk serum preparations, dough enhancer, binders for the processed meat industry and fodder for cattle. Two of these patents resulted in company formations that Ninni was part of: Aktiebolaget Practic comp ltd and AB Skånskt bindmedel.
The undoubtedly most famous patent is a method of producing spray dried milk powder (dry milk). This invention was considered so important that it was awarded a government grant on condition that a Swedish company was formed to exploit the invention. Ninni Kronberg therefore contacted director Rolf Forshell at C. Bert Lily & Co., who in turn contacted the financier Axel Wenner-Gren. This resulted in an agreement where that these gentlemen formed Swedish Dairy AB (SMP) in 1938 with Lilja as chairman and Forshell as CEO
Production of dry milk started the following year in Kimstad in Östergötland and in 1942 in Götene in Västergötland. SMP is the owner of the latest patent.
Through an agreement, Ninni Kronberg had certain royalties, which for various reasons ceased in the autumn of 1946. Despite two notable lawsuits, she remained without further revenues from the company.
Through various company constellations and several new products, the today internationally famous Semper AB (formerly SMP) continued producing mainly baby food, based on Ninni Kronbergs milk powder. This invention also granted patents in several other countries.
Since 2012 you can find Ninni Kronbergs street in the new Hagastaden in Solna along with street names from other prominent female pioneers in research and education. Research on Ninni Kronbergs interesting and remarkable life story is also ongoing, where her different patents and their fate are handled.
When her mother in law, Augusta Kronberg died, she transferred the ownership of Kronbergska Children's Hospital to Ninni. The property was sold in 1925.