Sweden has a long history of investing in innovation and R&D. It was the belief in innovation and research as key economic development forces that propelled Sweden from being a poor agricultural nation, just a century ago, to becoming one of the most advanced industrial nations in the world today.
Sweden is now considered one of the most innovative countries in the world, particularly in fields like sustainable technology, life sciences, healthcare, digitalization, and automation. The small nation consistently ranks at the top of global innovation surveys. Most recently, Sweden was ranked, for the third year in a row, as the second most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index 2021. The index measures performance indicators such as investment in innovation, scientific output, and R&D expenditure in more than 130 economies.
The reasons why Sweden has managed to become an innovation hotspot are many and varied. A very important reason, and one of the main reasons Sweden is consistently ranked so highly, is the amount of funding that is made available for R&D. Sweden invests more than 3% of its GDP in research. This makes Sweden, along with countries like Israel and South Korea, one of the biggest investors in R&D in the world. In Sweden, both public and private funding are readily available to finance innovative solutions that address the varied and complex problems that exist in the world today.
There are also cultural and political reasons why Sweden is so innovative. A belief in openness, equality, diversity and collaboration create a thriving and dynamic environment where innovators, the private sector, academia and government bodies can easily join forces to find solutions together. This model of public-private partnership and collaboration, as well as the robust and varied funding opportunities available, have made Sweden into a global technology hub where co-innovation and discovery thrive.
Government policy is another important factor that has helped place Sweden at the forefront of global innovation, particularly in the field of sustainable technology. Sustainability is an integral part of the Swedish mentality and has been a part of the country’s political agenda since the 60s, when Sweden was the first country to pass an environmental protection law.
Since then, eco-innovation and environmental research have been a top priority of Sweden’s national policy. They are considered essential components of development, human wellbeing and economic growth, and key for achieving the government’s ambitious goal for Sweden to be fully powered by renewable energy and be entirely fossil-free by 2045. This is a goal that Sweden is already well underway to achieve.
Sweden is already a world superpower in the fields of renewable energy, waste management and recycling, green transport, green industry, smart grids, new materials and bioproducts, nanotechnology, sustainable mining, green building, among many others - the list goes on! In the field of environmental research, Sweden is also well ahead of the rest of the world and many countries are now looking to Sweden for climate solutions and adaptations.
So, from highly efficient electric vehicles to green batteries, wooden skyscrapers, and carbon-free production processes, if you’re passionate about sustainability, Sweden really is the place to be.
Aside from its leading role on the sustainable technology front, Sweden is also a global leader when it comes to healthcare innovation and medtech. Sweden believes that both the life sciences and sustainability are essential to ensure human wellbeing and prosperity today and in the future. A lot of time and money is invested in both fields.
In the life sciences, Sweden is one of the most important developers and manufacturers of medical technology, drugs and devices, as well as a global center for medical research in fields like oncology, neuroscience and genomics. Sweden is home to renowned medical research centers such as Karolinska Institutet, SciLifeLab and the Testa Center, all of which are top players in the development of new medical advancements.
The life sciences sector in Sweden, just like the sustainable technology sector, has been growing significantly in recent years and is backed by both private and public funding. Many new science parks and startups are appearing all over the country and Swedish companies have become renowned for their work on biotech tools, 3D bioprinting, biomaterials and orthopaedic implants, regenerative medicine, precision medicine, medical imaging and visualization, among many others.
Sweden is also ahead of the curve when it comes to digital healthcare solutions like e-health and telemedicine, with Swedish companies like Kry and Doktor.se setting the standards for what high-quality, patient-centric digital healthcare looks like.
Sweden’s success and leadership in digital healthcare comes as no surprise. Since the early 90s, when Swedish people were amongst the first to have widespread access to fast internet and computers, Sweden has cultivated the digital culture and broadband infrastructure that is necessary to develop digital technologies that have the potential to solve major societal issues, while greatly enhancing productivity and quality of life.
Today, Sweden is one of the countries that is furthest along the transition to becoming a fully digitized, efficient and automated society. The Swedish digital sector is so large that it now represents nearly 20 percent of the country’s GDP. The Swedish capital alone has a thriving digital tech startup scene that has given rise to giants such as Spotify, Klarna and Skype.
Furthermore, in fields like AI, IoT, AR/VR/XR, advanced robotics, cybersecurity, fintech, mobility tech and 5G/6G, Sweden is matched by no other. Sweden’s success in these fields has not gone unnoticed and leading technology companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung and Microsoft are starting to invest heavily in Swedish companies and technology.
Overall, Sweden has managed to masterfully position itself to lead the way into the future in a vast number of fields. The world’s attention is turning towards the small Nordic country more and more for solutions to global challenges and Sweden is likely to become one of the most important centers of knowledge and technology in the world.
Whether you are a software developer, a mechanical engineer or a medical researcher, if you want to help build the future, Sweden is the place to go. Apply today to become a part of the innovative Swedish companies that are working to build a more sustainable and equitable future for all.