We had the honor of receiving His Royal Highness Prince Daniel in India last week. During his two-day visit to India, Prince Daniel visited the Embassy of Sweden where he met with the entire staff of the Embassy. We were delighted to present the Office of Science and Innovation’s work to promote Sweden as a partner of choice for India in the area of Science, Innovation and Higher Education. We briefed him about the Sweden India Innovation Partnership and also about the increasing interest from Swedish industry in Indian start-ups.
Prince Daniel met with Indian and Swedish business leaders and entrepreneurs over lunch. Among the guests were representatives of Swedish companies working actively on innovation in India such as Volvo, Spotify, Fingerprints, Truecaller, IKEA and others. We also introduced His Royal Highness to our local contacts from the Indian entrepreneurship and innovation landscape such as Invest India, The Indus Entrepreneurs, Start-up India among others. With an entrepreneurial background himself, Prince Daniel works to promote entrepreneurship among young people.
His words at the lunch were inspiring to many, including myself. An excerpt below:
Some years ago, I heard a story, about true love. A young man from India met a woman from Sweden when she was traveling here in India. They fell in love, but she had to go back to Sweden and he didn’t have enough money to go with her. He was desperate to see her again, but with almost no money it was impossible. Unless, of course, he took his bicycle! Which he did – and about a year later, he arrived in Borås. And the rest is history. Strong relationships are crucial for us humans. The same goes for countries, especially for small countries like Sweden. We depend on good relations, not least for trade. And here we are in India, a country with a population 136 times bigger than ours. That makes me quite humble. Imagine the potential!
I cannot agree more to what Prince Daniel said. India has a huge untapped potential. With over 300 million people having access to the internet, India is now the second most connected nation in the world (after China). The influx of low cost smartphones and laptops, coupled with relatively low cost mobile plans have empowered people across the country to connect, especially in rural India. The country is home to some of the youngest entrepreneurs in the world, with the average age of founders at a mere 28 years.
Start-ups are at the core of India’s transition. In the recent years, India has emerged as the third largest start-up base and such ventures are poised to grow 2.2 times to reach 10,500 by 2020. The startup land-scape in the country is becoming the epitome of innovation, with companies bringing out solutions that are aimed at solving locally relevant issues.
Relations between India and Sweden have always been close, warm and friendly. Bilateral ties have acquired great dynamism over recent years. However, the two countries are still far from realizing the full potential of bilateral engagement. Currently around 200 Swedish firms are based in India providing more than 200,000 jobs to Indians directly. These companies include iconic names like Ericsson (which entered India about 115 years ago in 1903), WIMCO (which was established in India in 1923), Saab, Volvo, ABB, Scania, Sandvik, Astra Zeneca, Alfa La-val, SKF, Tetrapak, H&M and many more in the local Indian market. These have been joined in recent years by some new entrants like True-caller, Gunnebo and others. The latest to join the pack is IKEA which launched Indian operations in 2018. Several Swedish SMEs which often hold niche technologies can take advantage of India’s attractive investment climate to establish manufacturing enterprises, transfer technology, conduct joint R&D etc.
Both India and Sweden are looking at each other today with greater seriousness and focus to significantly upgrade their bilateral engagement in start-ups and innovation cooperation. Our ambition is to continue to find innovative ways to exchange good practices, knowledge and technology to deepen and strengthen the relationship!