The Bumblebee Nation

International experts meet the Swedish innovation ecosystem

It has a burly body with tiny wings… and yet it flies. Sweden can be compared to a bumblebee, seeming to defy the laws of economic gravity. High wages, strong unions, generous welfare and regulated markets – how can Sweden claim to be a dream location for business, while coming out on top of rankings for childcare, work-life balance, equality and the environment? Last week, the Swedish Institute invited international experts from across the globe to meet founders and entrepreneurs from renowned Swedish startups and large companies with a focus on innovation. The participants come from Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Colombia, the United States, Nigeria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. They visited the Norrsken, Moving Floor, Hack for Sweden, Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and meet researchers from KTH Innovation and Chalmers University of Technology.

Photo: OSI India.

After Silicon Valley, Stockholm produces the second highest number of so-called “unicorns” (tech companies that have reached a valuation above $ 1 billion) per capita. Through the expert visit, SI wants to increase the participants’ knowledge and enable new collaborations. Stockholm has brought forth global brands such as Skype, Spotify, Minecraft and Candy Crush Saga. Being one of the world’s leading startup hotspots, Stockholm has a lot to offer.

Photo: OSI India.

During the week, there were inspirational talks on – AI and the future, How to improve the world with innovation and challenges with new technologies. The group also met with –

Norrsken House – Norrsken House is Europe’s biggest tech hub dedicated to social impact and houses people with the vision to change the world. Placed in a 2400m2 retrofitted tram depot in central Stockholm, the one-stop-shop for social innovation provides top-notch infrastructure such as coworking space, meeting rooms, skype booths, event space, playrooms, a meditation room, lounge area, kitchen, and much more.

KTH Innovation – KTH Innovation is the entrepreneurship centre of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, offering a structured pre-incubator program as well as services related to business development, patents and law, funding and project management. The aim is to help the students, researchers and employees at KTH commercialise their research results and business ideas. It is free of charge.

Photo: OSI India.

The Swedish Institute’s expert visitors’ programme brought together top forces from India including AGNIi, Start-up India, PMSTIAC and Invest India, all of which tried to pass on their best practices and experience. The focus was not only on challenges but also on opportunities. The group came back with positive experiences and a better understanding of the Swedish innovation ecosystem. It created a mix that makes us very hopeful about the possibilities to reach our goal: the triple-helix model that may help strengthen our innovation power locally in India. Read the testimonials from a selection of Indian participants below –

“SI course was an insightful engagement of various innovation stakeholders from government, research agencies and startups. The quad helix model of Sweden and mix of welfarism is worth emulating. The world including India is looking upto Sweden for further strategic collaborations.” – Dr Nithin Chakki

“The Innovation programme by SI was a knowledge exchange programme like no other. We didn’t just learn from the hosts but reflected about ideas from many other nations in a similar space as us. The Swedish secret sauce for making leaps in our innovation space will go a long way in helping us achieve our objective towards innovation.” – Mr Pratham Varshney

“The five day intensive programme organized by SI was an insightful window into the Swedish approach towards collaborative, citizen-centric and consensus-based problem solving. Interactions with Vinnova. Start-up Sweden and other stakeholders has opened exciting new avenues for AGNIi to cooperate with Sweden in order to boost innovation in both countries.” – Ms Ananya Chandra

Epicenter – Epicenter is Stockholm’s first digital House of Innovation and runs innovation labs, hackathons, ideathons and offers flexible workplaces, studios, meetings rooms as well as world-class workshops and international lectures all year long. It’s known for its voluntary RFID implants with whom members can unlock doors, access printers, and pay cashless at vending machines.

Photo: OSI India.

One reflection from the intense programme was also to note that how most countries are facing the same challenges and acknowledging the merit of working across borders.