The Best Cities to Start a Business in Sweden

Are you considering starting a new business in Sweden? As the leader of the Nordic Market, launching or expanding your business to Sweden will make you part of a dynamic and growing economy, in a country that’s renowned as one of the happiest places in the world.

Sweden is a Scandinavian country comprising thousands of coastal islands, beautiful boreal forests and countless inland lakes, and is well known for its strong welfare support system, generous employee vacation time and the high taxes which help to fund it. As the country is inhabited by just over 10 million people, it is also relatively small in terms of population size.

Related article: The best country to start a business in Europe

Some of these factors on their own may be slightly discouraging to many entrepreneurs, (as there is a strong traditional prejudice that high tax/high spend economies are less dynamic) but Sweden is an extremely business-friendly and entrepreneurially successful nation, with a huge amount to recommend it to foreign investors and business people.

Some of the factors which make Sweden such a fantastic place to do business include:

● According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Sweden has four times as many startups per 1,000 employees as the United States, with 20 startups per thousand employees compared to the U.S’s five.
● A peaceful and prosperous country, Sweden has a well-performing economy that orientates towards foreign trade. Low levels of corruption, healthy public finances, a robust banking system and political predictability all contribute to a secure environment for business people.
● Sweden has access to the Nordic Market, and as a member state of the European Union, Sweden is also a gateway to a European market of 28 countries and 510 million consumers.
● The country has several strong industries, including telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. Other pillars of the Swedish economy include human health, wholesale and retail trade, hospitality and food services.
● Large-scale public investment in Sweden has created an outstanding infrastructure, with a further €56 billion dedicated to infrastructure projects over the coming decade. Sweden also benefits from a lack of time-consuming bureaucracy and a highly-skilled and engaged workforce.
● Sweden is home to more than its fair share of global brands, including Spotify, Ericsson, Sandvik, iZettle, Volvo, Klarna and AstraZeneca.

With the nation as a whole looking so promising for business leaders looking to make their mark in Sweden, understanding which of Sweden’s vibrant and attractive cities to launch a new venture is the next step for entrepreneurs.

Stockholm

A city built across 14 individual islands, Stockholm is a pretty and unique place that boasts Royal palaces, impressive museums, over 50 bridges and a medieval old town. Here are some of the reasons why this watery city is a great place for businesses:

● Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia, with around 975,000 residents.
● The region of Stockholm accounts for over a third of Sweden's GDP, and is among the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita.
● Stockholm has a relaxed and open-minded atmosphere, combined with an absolutely booming tech industry and vibrant startup culture.
● Stockholm has produced some of the world's biggest disrupter brands, such as Spotify, and it is also the home of best-selling games Minecraft and Battlefield. While just a theory, it could be argued that Sweden's strong social safety net means that entrepreneurs feel more secure in taking (what later become) profitable risks, while the laid-back atmosphere and healthy working culture are perfect for fostering creativity.
● Stockholm has launched the second-highest number of billion-dollar tech companies per capita, after Silicon Valley.
● Sweden's capital was named the 8th most competitive city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2013.

Gothenburg

With half a million residents, Gothenburg is a major Swedish city that retains an appealing "small city" atmosphere. This coastal city has a tight-knit community feel and seaside atmosphere, Gothenburg was once famous as a fishing port but has since modernised into other industries, and is the birthplace of Volvo cars. Some of its benefits for business people include:

● Gothenburg is around 11% cheaper than Stockholm, making it ideal for smaller startups and lower living costs.
● Situated on the west side of Sweden, Gothenburg has excellent transport links with both Denmark and Norway.
● The “Yes Box”, a gathering place of key organisations created to help startups, is located in Gothenburg. Here entrepreneurs can find business advice, financing information and opportunities and educational services, from organisations such as Coompanion, Drivhuster and Business Region Göteborg.
● There are around 1500 foreign companies already successfully running their operations in Gothenburg.
● Gothenburg is home to a large talent pool, with Sweden’s excellent education system culminating in some of the country’s best higher education institutions found within the city.
● There are business clusters around a variety of industries in Gothenburg, including manufacturing, IT, law, green tech, telecommunications, petroleum, finance and more.

Malmö

Named the happiest city in one of the world’s happiest countries, Malmö can be found in the south of Sweden, and benefits from a road and railway bridge-tunnel that runs to Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. Another coastal city, Malmö is a refreshing mix of old and new, and is rapidly growing in a turnaround which saw it break out from decline as an old industrial town to become a centre of innovation. Some of the factors which make this a fantastical entrepreneurial city are:

● Malmö is aiming to become a “clean tech” city and is actively developing its creative, ICT, IT, life science and mobile media sectors.
● The city is also included in Medicon valley, an area that encompasses parts of southern Sweden and eastern Denmark and contains some of the world’s leading biotechnology clusters, employing 41,000 people and boasting 5000 clinical researchers.
● Malmö is considered to be the economic centre of Sweden and has fantastic infrastructure, including a direct train route to Copenhagen that takes just 30 minutes.
● Attracting young people from the rest of Sweden and further afield due to its university and employment opportunities, Malmö is a particularly young city, with an average age of 38.
● According to Forbes, Malmö is one of the world’s most inventive and innovative cities in the world, with the most patent applications per 10,000 residents. Malmö also has a thriving startup scene.
● A progressive culture of innovation has been fostered in Malmö through networking events, meeting points, a strong startup community, interest from angel investors and plenty of investment capital, government support and test-bed facilities.

Wherever you choose to start a business in Sweden, if you need more information on how to open a company, please contact us on 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10 or email us from our contact page and we’ll be happy to help.

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