Categories Destinations

Stockholm – City of unicorns

In the year that Pokémon Go took over the lives of people across the world, that Uber demolished the private driver industry, and food to your door in anything less than 15 minutes became unacceptable, European cities are now fighting for a piece of that tech cake with business startups spring up in every corner. There’s a booming video game industry in Helsinki, a leading music platform in hip Berlin, and even a small capital like Tallinn hosts several worthwhile business startups. But all of them are yet to produce as many highly valued companies as Stockholm. ABBA may no longer be Sweden’s most popular export.

Stockholm in a summer day

Stockholm leads for business startups

After Silicon Valley, the Swedish capital produces the highest number of so-called “unicorns” (startups valued at over $1 billion) per capita than any other city. Stockholm also commands 15% of the total foreign direct investment poured into the European technology sector.

Perhaps the most recognizable brand is Spotify. Founded in 2006, the music streaming service now has 100 million monthly users and its value is over $8 billion. Spotify is at the forefront of an impressive network of business startups. In addition to listening to music on Spotify, you may make your payments with Klarna services or iZettle, track your health with Lifesum and kill some time with a game of Candy Crush or Minecraft. Bet you didn’t realize that all those are Stockholm-born and bred. The origins of Stockholm’s startup culture can be traced back to the nineties when the Swedish government promoted the adoption of new technologies, offering tax breaks for citizens to buy personal computers, and subsidized high-speed internet connections.  It doesn’t come as a surprise that currently 18% of the city is employed in the tech sector.

Sweden’s social safety net, early tech adoption, a long design tradition and export-oriented culture, reflected in the global success of brands like Volvo and Ikea, fomented the right conditions for entrepreneurship. The city might be missing the California sun, but with thousands of tech businesses, it is certainly not lacking ideas and innovation.

Side view of a small bridge in Stockholm, second city that produces the highest number of business startups

Move to Stockholm

Now the city has launched a campaign to attract talent to join the tech sector in Stockholm. Commercial success and a demand for new talent have made the housing market quite competitive, but it is achievable for many and Stockholm as a city is truly inspiring. If you fancy a move, a good start is this list of 20 things to know before moving to Sweden.

But even if you don’t plan to permanently move to Sweden, the startup scene is ready to welcome short-time visitors. There is a number of networks, meet-ups, events and co-working spaces where you can connect with the tech community. You may enter into a trendy café in the Södermalm neighborhood, get your daily dose of coffee and enjoy freshly-baked cinnamon buns before attending a business meeting in one of the café’s rooms. Pay attention to those around you. Maybe that bearded young man with a flat cap is the future CEO of the next unicorn.