Talents will determine the future of Sweden!

Lena Apler, founder Collector, Anders Borg, former Finance minister, Jacob De Geer, founder iZettle, Dan Olofsson, founder Sigma, Martin Lorentzon, co-founder Spotify, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder Klarna, Jessica Stark, co-founder SUP46, Maria Rankka, CEO Stockholms handelskammare, Niklas Zennström, founder Atomico

Lately, there have been frequent discussions around how Swedish companies, and startups in particular, can attract top talent.

Many have pointed to the need for law reforms and regulations to facilitate the process of attracting skilled people to Swedish businesses. The education system is crucial to inspire young people, girls in particular, to pursue technical subjects. The lack of rental housing and the possibility for companies to provide employees with stock options tax-efficiently have been identified as key issues in attracting talent to Sweden.

Much of the discussion has revolved around the conditions startup companies face in Stockholm. There is nothing wrong with that, but we believe that this matter applies throughout Sweden. The issue of attracting workforce and distributing the ownership is a general issue — it affects both new and established businesses in the country.

Sweden has a prominent startup sector and its technology-focused businesses attract talent from all over the world. This benefits Sweden as a whole as it leads to more jobs, growth, tax income and dynamics in the entire country.

Stockholm has become the center for startups. It is impressive yet follows a long tradition in the country; Ericsson, Ikea, SKF and Hennes & Mauritz were all born in Sweden.

It’s important to understand that what we tend to call the ‘startup sector’, is actually a whole ecosystem that positively impacts the entire society. At the core of this ecosystem are people with tech-based ideas who are raising capital and recruiting coworkers. These employees tend to become partners and benefit from the value development of the company, which often leads to them establishing their own businesses in turn. This forms a unique cluster of young people that come in early and learn how to build and grow global companies. The value for the society arises when talented people find their way to Sweden, and when new companies are established.

That fact that Sweden is able to attract talent from all over the world benefits not only the public sector but also traditional corporations. Digitalization is needed in all areas of the economy and will be facilitated if we manage to attract talent who understand and can implement change.

It is unique for a small country like Sweden to have succeeded in establishing this kind of an ecosystem. It is something we have to protect. The issues that have been raised are important for the entire country, since the decisions we make today lay the ground for creating successful companies of tomorrow, enabling Sweden’s existence as a welfare society.

Sometimes the startup sector is portrayed as something that exists only in Stockholm, but in reality, new businesses are started all over the country. When it comes to attracting capital and talent, the environment is often even tougher outside the capital. In reality, the attractive Stockholm startup scene benefits these companies. The ability to offer employees stock options is perhaps even more important to the rest of the country as recruiting talent is harder outside the capital.

Implementing measures to promote the startup sector instead of being forced to move businesses is thus a matter that concerns the whole of Sweden. It’s not a question of being liberal or conservative. It’s a question of our future as a country.

We should view this as a natural progression of Sweden and the Swedish model instead. The Swedish social system is characterized by cohesion: people in workplaces have a voice. This manifests itself in the form of labor unions and their essential role in the system helped employees gain more influence within the companies they work for. A natural extension of this model would now allow employees to become shareholders in the companies they work for. It is actually great that business owners are willing to dilute their ownership.

Spreading ownership is also essential to combat the wealth gap that continues to expand worldwide. In a time where the concentration of riches is growing stronger, spreading ownership may be a way to break the cycle. The fact that Sweden promotes cohesion is not just important for the citizens and society, but also for businesses and the economy as a whole.

We shouldn’t underestimate the image of Sweden. For companies, being perceived as a Swedish company adds value to the brand. The Swedish startup phenomenon plays an important part in building this perception. Let’s make the most out of it and promote it further.

Sweden is an incredible country. We have a high level of creativity and are constantly proving our ability to establish global businesses. For this development to continue, we are facing a few challenges. Reforming the education system, establishing a functioning rental housing market and reducing taxes on employee share options is vital for the entire future of Sweden

More info: elin@sup46.com

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