Highlights Of My Trip To Sweden: Entrepreneurship, Technology and Impact
Last January I had the honor to be invited by the Swedish Institute and the Swedish Embassy in Luanda to spend a week in Sweden (Stockholm and Gothenburg) to participate in their Visitors Programme along with other delegates from Nigeria and Mozambique on the theme of “Entrepreneurship, Technology and Impact”.
The programme aimed to promote an exchange and dialogue about how entrepreneurship, information and communication and technology can help to create a positive impact and increased quality of life.
A quick overview on what makes the Swedish Entrepreneurial ecosystem successful
With companies like IKEA, Spotify, Skype, Ericsson, H&M, Electrolux and Volvo Sweden is home of some of the most recognisable global brands. And this is not by chance, visionary tech leaders, globally oriented startups and smart government policies have allowed Sweden’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to thrive.
According to the official government website Sweden has employed innovative regulations over the years to keep its budgets balanced and actively supports local startups. There are also government-funded tech incubators that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
Highlights of the trip
It was an intense but energising week, spent in the company of amazing and inspiring entrepreneurs, not to mention the super welcoming environment and Mr. Oskar Röhlander (Programme Manager at the Swedish Institute) who enthusiastically led us through the whole week.
In Stockholm we started our intensive week by visiting Kista Nod, built to be an attractive place for all who live, work and congregate in Kista. The vision is for Nod to become Sweden’s foremost meeting place for innovation and creativity, where people and companies with a variety of competencies can meet and grow together.
Our first stop in Kista was at the Ericsson Studio, an engaging showroom space where the company showcase its ideias for the future and a great place to learn more about smart things and innovative sustainable solutions. I was impressed and inspired by the ideas and projects on the internet of everything, the networked society and how it will support people and businesses.
Also in Kista we visited the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) and learned about their work and projects supported by their program.
Still in Stockholm we visited Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, its mission is to promote sustainable growth by improving the conditions for innovation, as well as funding needs-driven research. A great opportunity to learn how governmental organisations play a significant role in fostering innovation, partnerships and collaboration among companies and other industry players.
Later we headed up to Impact Hub, a coworking space for social innovation and I took part of a panel discussion on the topic “Social Innovation in Africa”. It was a wonderful interactive session with an enthusiastic crowd sharing ideas and knowledge on innovative solutions to address social problems (I will write more about this topic on another post).
We had an interesting meeting with Robin Teigland (Ph.D.) who is a Professor at the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), her research focuses on how new technologies are disrupting established forms of value creation in society. Dr. Robin Teigland is also know as the “startup Professor” as she specialised studying what makes companies to unicorns (a startup company valued of $1 billion or more).
I was delighted to visit one of the hottest entrepreneurial hubs in Stockholm, Epicenter, a coworking space designed to attract dynamic innovators and entrepreneurs within the digital space.
Our last visit in Stockholm was at Hyper Island. Since I’m passionate about education and an enthusiast advocate of life long learning, this place was one of my favourite during the visit. Hyper Island designs learning experiences that challenge companies and individuals to grow and stay competitive in an increasingly digitised world. This innovative school offer programs and courses that seeks to equip their students with the necessary knowledge and skills for the 21st century economy.
By the middle of the week we caught up the train to Gothenburg for the second part of our Visitors Programme. Gothenburg welcoming us covered in snow and a bit lower temperatures than Stockholm but also with a warm welcome of our hosts from First to Know.
One of the highlights from Gothenburg was the visit at Chalmers University of Technology where we had an intensive day learning about Chalmers Ventures, Chalmers Innovation, Incubator and Challenge Lab as well as meeting Chalmers Innovation & Lindholmen Science Park.
I also enjoyed Ekocentrum, Sweden’s largest permanent exhibition on the theme environment and sustainability. This place is an excellent meeting point to learn more about sustainable development. There were examples in the areas of energy, transport, food and recovery of resources, etc. Ekocentrum provides an increased understanding of the connections between ecological, economic and social factors, in relation to sustainable development.
I learned many things during that wonderful and insightful week in Sweden. That there are positive working synergies between government, universities, companies and industry players which allowed collaboration and partnerships to innovate and prosper. Also, I noticed a concern and positive action to promote sustainable development.
Our reality in Angola is quite far in catching up with the Swedish level, besides many basic problems we still have to solve we lack talent, proper training, efficient initiatives and programmes to support entrepreneurs, not to mention the lack of investment (public and private) on tech, infrastructures as well as a coordinated joint action between government (with smart policies to facilitate startup companies), universities and industries.
Nevertheless, I believe in change for good and so I’m using this learning experience and the contacts I’ve made to accelerate positive impact in solving our everyday problems. Entrepreneurship is now global.