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Why Gothenburg is a leading knowledge region

3 December 2020
The Gothenburg region has passed Stockholm as Sweden’s leading region for business R&D. The more company’s invest in R&D, the greater the likelihood becomes that new innovations will emerge - and jobs will be created. These are a few of the findings of Business Region Göteborg’s new report Business R&D in western Sweden.  

Year after year Sweden ranks highly in terms of R&D expenditure in relation to GDP. In a recent report from OECD, Sweden had the world’s third highest R&D intensity.

“It is extremely positive that Sweden, a small country up in the north, has further increased its R&D expenditure. It strengthens confidence and conditions for Sweden’s capacity to innovate. And that western Sweden is the region with the highest R&D expenditure in the country, is very exciting,” says Maria Strömberg, head of clusters and innovation at Business Region Göteborg, and one of the authors of the report.


Access to relevant expertise 

That Gothenburg is so strong in terms of R&D intensity is not surprising, explains Maria Strömberg. Global companies such as Volvo Cars, the Volvo Group, AstraZeneca and Ericsson are extremely research driven, and this drives up the numbers.

“Many of the companies behind these large R&D investments are foreign-owned or are companies with global operations and can place their R&D activities anywhere in the world. But they have chosen to invest in our region as there is access to relevant expertise, there is a growing market and we have strong clusters. Businesses have confidence in investing in R&D in the region and have a long-term perspective in their investments,” she says.     

Maria also points out that the region has a long and proven track record of creating large scale collaborations between many actors within industry, academia and the public sector, for example through testbeds, where development takes place while the innovation is tested in virtual or real world environments. The Gothenburg region is also the region in Sweden with the highest density of testbeds, shows the report. 


R&D investments lead to job creation

Peter Warda is an analyst at Business Region Göteborg and a co-author of the report. He explains the connection between research and development, new innovations, higher productivity, increased exports – and more jobs.

“The more R&D companies carry out, the greater the likelihood that innovations are created and demanded on the global market. Business productivity also increases. This in turn creates greater value and freed up resources can be reallocated in new tasks and technologies. Sweden’s innovation potential is exceptional. We can see this in international studies, from among others, the European Commission, WIPO and OECD,” he says.   

“Västra Götaland, Gothenburg’s county, accounted for 33.4 per cent of Sweden’s business R&D expenditure during 2019. At the same time, it only accounts for 17 per cent of the population. This confirms the strength the region’s companies possess - to produce leading innovations on the global market. And because of this capacity, our companies are a big contributor to Sweden’s economic growth,” adds Peter Warda.



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Henrik Einarsson
Director of Business Establishment and Investment
Area of work: Establishment Business climate Regional development
Area of concern: Management team Establish and invest
Maria Strömberg
Director Cluster & Innovation
Area of work: Cluster development Innovation Cleantech
Area of concern: Management team Business development and financing


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