I was not aware that Stockholm was such a vibrant hub for entrepreneurship until I started my exchange study here, when I saw all sorts of technological start-up companies located in Kista paving their way to the future. “Between 2005 and 2012 alone, 6.5% of the world’s billion dollar exits were from companies that had come from Sweden” (Virgin, 2016). There are a couple of reasons that makes Stockholm such an entrepreneurial hub in the Nordic area or even in the Europe.
Thanks to the Swedish government’s heavy investment into IT infrastructure in the 1990s, Sweden has the first-class high-speed Internet. The government also grants tax deduction for people buying a computer, which is why the state has such a high computer ownership rate. This has help “equip Swedes with the physical tools and digital savvy to become a national of technological disruptors and a country of ready consumers”. Apart from that, the wide ownership of digital device has created a culture of open access and entrepreneurship collaboration (Davidson, 2015).
On the other hand, Sweden has the one of the best social welfare system in the world, which lessens the risk of business failure for entrepreneurs. Research has shown that the more welfare the government provides, the higher their people’s entrepreneurial spirit (Lee, 2016). This is because with a good welfare system to ensure your living, you are much safer to take risk and run a start-up company.
Singapore, the country where I have my undergraduate education, is also the biggest entrepreneurial hub in Asia. According to the Economist, Singapore is the “world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem” (Teng, 2016). It is a bit interesting to compare these two entrepreneurial hubs, given that they are a bit similar to some extent. For example, the populations for both Sweden and Singapore are small. Sweden has a population of nearly 9.6 million while Singapore has a population of 5.4 million (Lee, 2016). A small population imposes limit not only on the size of the market but also the pool of talent. Unlike Silicon Valley where it can have a large population in the United States to support its market and talent base, tech start-up companies have to think globally in order to grow and thrive. Fortunately due to the economic tie within the European Union and Asean countries, it is relatively easy for tech start-ups to expend their business to other neighboring countries.
To nurture a climate conducive to start-up companies, Singapore government has a portfolio of grants and schemes to give funding and capital to start-up eligible companies, apart from its efforts to attract foreign investors to invest in Singapore start-ups. I am not sure how the government here in Stockholm helps cultivates a start-up climate, but I think the Singapore government has really done a good job in this area. In addition, educational institutions in Singapore have been tightly involved into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. A lot of schools have courses and oversea programs in entrepreneurship, as well as incubation centers for students to kick off their business.
I am more than happy if you guys could share your insights about the start-up culture in Stockholm or any other places around the world with me.
Virgin. (2016). The world’s best start-up hubs: Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved from https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/the-worlds-best-start-up-hubs-stockholm-sweden
Teng, A. (2016, Jan 16). Starting up: The rise of the Singaporean entrepreneur. Retrieved from http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/singapore/starting-up-the-rise-of/2431670.html
Davidson, L. (2015, Jun 28). How Sweden became the startup capital of Europe. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/11689464/How-Sweden-became-the-startup-capital-of-Europe.html
Lee, T. (2016, Feb 20). For Singapore to reinvent itself, it needs to take lessons from Sweden. Tech In Asia. Retrieved from https://www.techinasia.com/singapore-sweden-tech-scene