Stockholm: European innovation performance champion

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More than ever before, innovations are needed to overcome the new challenges Europe is faced with. European countries are currently on different levels regarding their technological advancement, and the same can also be said about their likelihood to innovate or embrace innovations.

However, no matter which annual innovations performance scoreboard one decides to glaze upon, it is almost certain that at least one Scandinavian city will be included on that list. The Northern European countries are world-famous for fostering the culture of innovations and entrepreneurship.

Last summer, European Commission released the European Innovation Scoreboard 2021, which demonstrated that Europe’s innovation performance is improving. Sweden remained the EU Innovation Leader, followed by Finland, Denmark, and Belgium, all of which have outperformed the EU average in terms of innovation.

Last year’s European Innovation Scoreboard was based on a redesigned framework that incorporated additional metrics on digitalization and environmental sustainability. Thanks to its flawless performance on this front, Swedish capital Stockholm was named the most innovative region in Europe, followed by Etelä-Suomi in Finland, and Oberbayern in Germany.

What is the secret behind Stockholm’s success and why can no discussion about innovation be complete without mentioning the Scandinavian country which has, over the time, established the reputation of a global leader in this field? According to Swede.se website, the country has a very long history of innovation, which is exactly why Stockholm’s current top-tier start-up scene is hardly a surprise.

According to the same website, Sweden’s long-term commitment to education and research has had a significant impact on its innovative capability. The country instituted compulsory education for children from seven to thirteen years old in 1842. This was a game-changing step since it boosted the overall level of education among the population and was a key component in Sweden’s transformation from a poor agricultural nation to a successful innovation leader.

Furthermore, Sweden’s educational system is also recognized as one of the best in the world. Because of its emphasis on individual learning, the country is regularly praised for its achievements in the field of education. Being home to numerous top-class educational institutions, Sweden has always been a very attractive study destination for both local and foreign talents. This also contributes to Sweden being a fertile ground for innovations.

Advanced educational system certainly gives Sweden and Stockholm a very good starting position to develop a highly-skilled and creative workforce. However, science parks, accelerators and incubators certainly also play a part in making Stockholm a true European technological hub with a very diverse start-up scene that is constantly growing.

During the 2021 Global Startup Award gala in Copenhagen, Stockholm-based accelerator Sting took the victory in the “Best Accelerator/Incubator” category. Sting is said to have played a key role in the development of Stockholm’s and Sweden’s startup communities over the past 20 years. According to the company’s website, Sting has supported more than 350 startups, of which 70% continue to grow and expand even today.

Founded in 2002, Sting was created with a goal to become Europe’s most appealing ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs and assist Sweden’s most promising tech firms in accelerating their growth. Sting also operates several regional fund projects co-financed by ERDF, the European Regional Development Fund.

‘’Sting has supported hundreds of promising tech startups and played an active role in creating several important components in Stockholm’s startup ecosystem: an accelerator, an incubator, several co-working spaces, Sweden’s largest recruitment service for startups, the matchmaking business Ignite and investment companies Luminar Ventures and Propel Capital,’’ the company stated on their website.

Numerous other incubators and accelerators have also helped Stockholm establish itself as one the world’s leading startup hotspots. The city’s vibrant start-up scene keeps blossoming and reaching new heights. Thanks to a climate that fully embraces innovations and encourages them, Stockholm deservingly carries the title of an ‘innovation hub’. (photo credit: Freepik)