Sweden’s rail, roads and airports are in need of major investment over the coming years. The Government is looking for efficient, low energy and practical solutions. Opportunities for British firms include development and construction of new railway lines, maintenance of existing railway lines and the existing road network.
The Swedish government is committed to investing in the development of healthcare in order to meet rising demand. Sweden has the highest per capita spending in Europe on research and development within this sector. According to Business Sweden, which aims to assist foreign investment and helps them establish operations, its universities have special knowledge and skills in areas ranging from cancer and diabetes research to medical devices and stem cell therapies.
Opportunities for British firms include medical innovation, drug discovery and pharmaceutical commercialisation in the country’s system of regional clusters.
Outsourcing, virtualising and moving services into cloud computing are all part of the latest trends in the Swedish tech sector. Opportunities include putting capital into internet and media related start-ups, mobile technologies, data centres and game development.
Capital city Stockholm is at the heart of the FinTech revolution and indeed is Europe’s second biggest hub outside of London accounting for 18.3 per cent of all investments in the continent in the last 5 years.
In 2014 a record $266 million worth of investments were secured accounting for a third of all Sweden’s total investments in private companies. Much of the investment boom for Stockholm’s FinTech firms is due to a huge increase in investors seeing the city as a prime location for the industry.
In the last two years Intel Capital, Mastercard and American Express Ventures have all invested in FinTech companies in Stockholm. In addition to this, local investors have also come to the fore, such as NFT Ventures, a specialty venture capital firm focused on FinTech in the Nordics with Stockholm as its base. The swift rise in FinTech investment has been mirrored by strong growth in revenues, with the sector estimated to generate $1.3 billion in 2013, which is a 25 per cent increase over 2010’s values.
The biggest drivers are trading and banking technology and payments. Torbjörn Bengtsson, of the Stockholm Business Region Development says: “FinTech is rapidly growing in Stockholm. The city has so much going for it and to be the second most popular destination in Europe for this industry in the past five years is an impressive achievement. This growth will likely continue and even intensify in the years to come, enabling Stockholm to retain its position as one of the major fintech hubs globally.”
Daniel Blomquist, Partner at venture capital firm Creandum, says: “I think what makes Stockholm unique is that we have a high level of execution intelligence here. This combined with our bottom-up Scandinavian management style enables firms to successfully navigate the many uncertainties in today’s financial services.”
FASHION AND RETAIL
Swedish people have a taste for British products and luxury goods. Consumers are fairly affluent helped by double-income households and retail sales are well above EU average.
Business Sweden says Swedish consumers are “trend-sensitive, early adopters and demanding buyers who value and embrace new international retail brands and shopping experiences. They appreciate function and quality as much as design and brands”.
New and ongoing expansion of retail locations in town centres, shopping centres and retail parks offer opportunities for retail businesses. Today some 150 international retail chains in all segments are present in Sweden.
Sweden has an increasing demand for energy with an additional 1.3GW in supply needed by 2020. The Government wants to reach a 50 per cent share of renewable energy by 2020 and be fossil fuel free in 2030 so there are opportunities for renewable firms in solar, water, biofuel and windpower. Key opportunities include wind turbines, shale exploration, solar power, hydro power and waste management.
Business Sweden also encourages foreign firms to “use Sweden as a laboratory for clean technologies, through establishment of proprietary R&D units or establishment of strategic partnerships with Swedish cleantech companies”. There is also a need for green buildings including wood building technology and low energy housing as well as electric car technologies, batteries, charging infrastructure and fuel cells.
Some of the world’s leading manufacturing companies started in Sweden and are today global brands such as Ericsson, ABB, Volvo and Scania. They are accompanied by more than 1,400 foreign companies that have manufacturing operations in the country such as General Electric, BAE Systems and Bombardier.
In Sweden, three quarters of the business R&D expenditure is within manufacturing particularly ICT equipment, transport equipment and chemicals and minerals.
In tomorrow’s instalment of our series on Sweden, we take a look at the cultural differences you can expect to face…