Sweden is one of the most competitive, productive and globalised nations in the world. A global leader in innovation and in the tech industry with a highly skilled workforce, sophisticated consumers, smooth business procedures and a stable economy.
Sweden is the world's best country to do business in (Forbes)
Sweden is the 2nd most innovative country in the world (UN)
Stockholm is the 13th most high-tech city in the world (Business Insider/2thinknow)
Stockholm is the tech startup capital of Europe with the 2nd most unicorns per capita in the world, behind only Silicon Valley. The Swedish unicorns Skype, Spotify, Klarna, Mojang (Minecraft) and King (Candy Crush) were all founded in Stockholm. These billion dollar companies are five out of a total of ca 8 000 startups that employ ca 52 000 people in Sweden.
Digital health – Sweden at the forefront
Listen to the Embassy's Tech Bridge podcast on the digital health transformation. Guests include CEO's of innovative health tech companies and the NHS:
Sweden has a large and dynamic life science sector with world-leading companies and internationally renowned science. The Swedish life science sector provides huge potential for investors and partners and the technology-driven environment, characterized as it is by close collaboration between academia, healthcare and industry, has produced many notable medtech innovations. The pacemaker, the ultrasound and the dialysis machine are just three examples.
The healthcare sector is becoming increasingly digitalised. With high levels of digital development Sweden is at the forefront, ranking 3rd in the world in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).
Sweden is home to more than 800 companies and ca 40 000 sector employees. Since 2009 the Swedish government has substantially increased life science research funding. There are many successful international companies of Swedish origin, such as Gambro, Elekta, Getinge Infection Control, SCA, Mölnlycke Healthcare, Sobi and AstraZeneca. Key, foreign companies have also established a base in Sweden, such as Pfizer, Philips and GE Healthcare.
Sweden ranks 1st in the EU in R&D investment per capita
Sweden is top 3 in the world in publishing scientific articles on medicine and bioscience per capita
Sweden is top 5 in the world in number of patents held with regard to pharmaceuticals, medical technology and biotechnology per capita
Read more about Sweden’s recipe for delivering world-class healthcare and science
Sweden - a world leader in innovation
Sweden is the 2nd most innovative country in the world. Reasons for this include a historic tradition of inventors, a commitment to gender equality, and a strong belief in the individual. Close collaboration between research institutes and the private and public sectors is another key factor.
When it comes to building successful global businesses out of inventions, an international mindset, trust and a social safety net have been vital.
Tomorrow’s world is being invented in Sweden
10 innovations you didn't know were Swedish
Because the domestic market is small, Swedish companies typically think internationally from day one. Sweden is well known globally for international collaboration, licencing and financing. The main business sectors are drug development, biotech tools, diagnostics and medtech, including digital health.
Sweden is home to the largest number of multinational companies per capita in the world, with brands such as IKEA, H&M, Volvo, Spotify, Ericsson, Sandvik, ABB, Acne, Nudie Jeans, Astra Zeneca, Scania, Electrolux and Skype.
Trust and social safety net
Sweden has a thriving start-up scene. A vital ingredient for the success is a special quality endemic in the Swedish society: trust. According to an EU-funded study, Sweden ranks 2nd in the world intrapreneurship, an important factor for generating new ideas and business opportunities. Intrapreneurship thrives when there is a high level of trust, both within individual economies, and society at large. This is the case in Sweden.
The high level of trust also benefits entrepreneurism, with large established companies trusting small start-ups enough to collaborate and share knowledge with them.
In Sweden there’s also a strong social safety net, including generous parental leave, which make Swedes more confident starting a new business.
Further reading on Swedish technology and innovation
The Atlantic: How Sweden with high government spending bred a large number of vibrant young businesses
BBC: Stockholm - the city where the internet warms people's homes, literally
Huffington Post UK: Sweden to become the world's first cashless country
World Economic Forum: Meet Europe's top tech titans - The Scandinavian success & the UK hub
World Economic Forum: Why Sweden produces so many successful start-ups
Forbes: Here are the next tech giants evolving from Stockholm's start-up scene