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How Gothenburg has become a driving force of Swedish innovation

5 September 2022
Lindholmen Science Park in Gothenburg. Photo: Copyright House of Vision/Göteborg & Co
Open innovation environments, a long tradition of collaborating and access to relevant expertise. These are some of the reasons why strong, global companies invest in R&D in Gothenburg – and this has helped make the region a key driver of innovation in Sweden.

Businesses are investing heavily in R&D in Gothenburg, with the region accounting for over 33 per cent of Sweden’s business R&D expenditure. This is higher than anywhere else in the country and is rather unique as Gothenburg has long been an industrial city.

“There is a connection as there are currently big shifts in industrial developments and challenges. The automotive sector, for example, needs to quickly transition towards electrified and emission-free vehicles,” says Maria Strömberg, director of clusters and innovation at Business Region Göteborg.

Behind the massive investments in the region are large, global companies. The automotive sector accounts for a large share of these R&D investments, not in the least Volvo Cars and the Volvo Group. But large sums are also being invested within, for example, life science, petrochemicals and space. 

“It shows that businesses have confidence to make long-term investments in our region. And that they believe that relevant expertise is available, either to recruit or within collaboration partners,” says Maria.

Did you know...

Businesses in the Gothenburg region account for the following shares of Sweden’s total business R&D expenditure within the following sectors:

  • Automotive – 2/3
  • Chemicals, hygiene products and pharmaceuticals – 2/5
  • Knowledge-intensive business services – 1/3

 

Collaboration - a success factor

The region has a long history of collaborating to develop new innovative solutions. And this capacity to collaborate is an asset, now more than ever, explains Maria.

“One realisation is that no single actor is able to create on their own the future solutions that meet the needs. You have to collaborate, both between businesses, the public sector, academia and institutes,” she says.

Johanneberg Science Park, Lindholmen Science Park and Sahlgrenska Science Park are the result of these types of collaboration. Today, they are key parts of our innovation ecosystem, and attract talent and companies from around the world. Meanwhile, new collaborative environments are also emerging, such as GoCo Health Innovation City, which gathers researchers, entrepreneurs and other talent to accelerate health innovation.   

“There are also several examples, such as the BioVentureHub and Camp X, where large companies are opening up and allowing smaller companies to use their facilities. This is a rather unique way of operating,” says Maria.

 

Maria Strömberg, head of clusters and innovation at Business Region Göteborg
Maria Strömberg, director of clusters and innovation at Business Region Göteborg

 

A hotspot for testbeds

Gothenburg also has many testbeds where new innovations are being tested and developed. A good example is Gothenburg Green City Zone, where actors are testing new technology for both vehicles and infrastructure, with the aim of achieving emission-free transport in a large part of the city by 2030.

Gothenburg has more than 60 active testbeds. These testbeds enable businesses, academia, institutes, and the city to accelerate development, build knowledge and grow together. 

“We are very good at collaborating between different industries and actors – and I believe that this is the future innovation climate. We must continue developing this even further.”

Will Gothenburg become a knowledge city?

Maria doesn’t think Gothenburg will go purely from an industrial city to a knowledge city. Both are needed and one doesn’t rule out the other. 

“To just have advanced service companies is not Gothenburg’s character. It’s a combination of knowledge-intensive companies and industry in transformation that makes Gothenburg unique and attractive.” 

 

Did you know...

  • Gothenburg is an innovation leader in Europe (Regional Innovation Scoreboard, 2021). 
  • Sweden is the second most innovative country in the world (WIPO, 2021)
  • Gothenburg is among the top 15 most inventive cities in the world, in terms of patents per capita.
  • Gothenburg is the most sustainable destination in the world (Global Destination Sustainability Index, 2016-2021).

 

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