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The Swedish Tech Scene

It’s tempting to reduce the tech scene in Sweden to two entries. Spotify in Stockholm, and Facebook up north in Luleå. Job done, right? Wrong. The Swedish tech scene is only in its infancy.

Of course that’s not the full story. It couldn’t possibly be, but it could be said to be emblematic of the Swedish tech scene that one of the biggest names in streaming entertainment got its start in the Swedish capital, and that the behemoth that is Facebook chose the frozen city of Luleå (well, frozen for half the year at any rate) to open its first data centre in Europe.

Actually, reductive though it is, let’s stick with the Facebook end of things for a moment. The American social media giant has recently announced that it’s going to double the size of its operations in Luleå. This will create around 100 new tech jobs in the area by 2021. To give you some idea of just what a big deal this is, the new data centre will, when it’s finished, consume two per cent of all of Sweden’s power generation all by itself. On top of which, the Facebook investment (it’s been in Luleå since 2013) has helped to turn the town on the Gulf of Bothnia into the second-biggest contributor to Sweden’s GDP, behind only Stockholm itself. That’s the power of the tech economy, folks…

Image shows coastal part of Lulea city in the cold. The Swedish tech scene in Lulea is the second biggest earner for Swedish GDP

In Sweden, tech is only going to get bigger and bigger. The country has been described as ‘the true jet engine’ of the Nordic tech scene. In 2017 alone more than €1.3-billion was invested in tech startups all across the country.

Swedish Tech Scene – bigger and bigger

And you really can look beyond Stockholm and Luleå. In fact, Malmö has a small, but fast-growing, tech employment scene, that could eventually be the biggest in the country. Malmö is currently home to 42 startups, which in the past 12 months received USD$800,000 in funding. It probably doesn’t hurt that Malmö is the point at which the vast Oresund bridge links Sweden to the northern tip of Denmark, creating a direct connection with the heart of Europe.

Of course, you can’t discount the likes of Stockholm entirely. Venture capital firm Wellstreet is about to open a vast startup campus in Stockholm, called The Factory, which it hopes will be the home for as many as 100 startups, as well as providing office space for more established tech firms.

A new breed of startups

Then there’s Gothenburg, the home of Volvo and home of a new breed of startups. Like Stockholm, Gothenburg is buzzing with soon to be unicorns.

Of course, Sweden is renowned as being one of the more expensive places in Europe in which to live. That’s at least partially true. For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in Stockholm city centre will cost you around €1,100 a month. Which is far from cheap, but not entirely out of line with other European tech centres like London or Dublin. On top of which, the Swedish work/life balance is a particularly good one. Wage levels are also in line with the other major European capitals — a software engineer can expect to earn around Sk468,000 per year on average, which works out at around €45,000.

Been wondering about your chance in the Swedish tech scene? Why not try our free 5 Day Coding Challenge to see if you might have an aptitude for code? All it takes is one hour a day over five days. By the end, you’ll have learned some code, and have built a web page.