The battery-run pacemaker, the three-point seat belt, the modern-day zipper, the electrocardiogram and the ubiquitous Tetra Pak. These are just a few of the Swedish innovations that have improved our daily lives in the past century. Today, that deeply rooted spirit of invention continues to shape the lives of people around the world with new innovations, from the medicines that cure us to the apps we rely on every day.
“Innovation is a notion that has been embedded in Swedish business culture for centuries. Companies such as Ericsson, Volvo, AstraZeneca and Sandvik emerged from this unique and broad culture,” says Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s Minister of Enterprise and Innovation. “Spotify, Klarna and iZettle – known as born globals – are businesses that were built on recently developed innovations. These companies are now gaining market share across the world.”
More astonishingly, the region has seen consistent growth every quarter for the past fifteen years, a testament to the strength of the region’s economy and the environment that nurtures innovative companies and creative entrepreneurs.At the epicenter of this innovation engine is the Stockholm region, with a population of 3.5 million, 1.9 million of whom are employed. The region is home to 28 universities and 365,000 companies, which account for 42% of Sweden’s gross domestic product.
“Our priority is to work with the vibrant startup scene. We are very active in bringing the community together and helping them collaborate and gain access to investment,” says Olle Zetterberg, CEO of Stockholm Business Region, the city’s official investment promotion agency.
“Sweden is ranked number two after Silicon Valley as a breeding ground for successful start-ups. We would like to see a lot more investors of all sizes come to Sweden. I would also like to see the high-tech entrepreneurial spirit of Sweden being cross-merged with international companies,” says Business Sweden CEO Ylva Berg, who sees ICT’s convergence with all industries as a key area for growth.
Meanwhile, Stockholm’s vibrancy and the ingenuity of its residents have spread into entertainment and leisure. The city’s highly demanding inhabitants continuously crave new and interesting things to do. Giving rise to creativity in every form, from trendsetting musicians to creators of gaming apps like Candy Crush and Minecraft, the country is changing how people pass their time.
As escape-room games gain more global fans, Fox in a Box recently partnered with Red Bull for the World Championships next year.But Sweden’s global impact is not limited to the capital’s tech start-ups and industry giants. Small entrepreneurial companies are also making a huge impact.Stockholm-based Fox in a Box, which has revolutionized the escape-room game genre, is looking to capitalize on its tremendous local success and export its innovative approach around the world.
Bardexa Norden, a family-run company based in Alingsås, produces customized first-aid kits and other emergency medical response equipment for public and private organizations all over the world. It recently provisioned disaster-relief packages to Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
As the world gets smaller and global business grows more integrated, Sweden’s little known impact on the world is sure to become more prominent in the future.