Erik Behm
2 March 2020

‘Gothenburg’s tech community has really blossomed’

What key developments are taking place in the region’s ICT and tech industries and why are so many companies choosing Sweden’s second largest city? Business Region Göteborg’s Erik Behm provides insight into one of the Nordic’s most exciting tech hubs.

Can you tell us about your role at Business Region Göteborg?

“I work with both cluster development and investment promotion within ICT. When it comes to cluster development, we identify technology areas that are important for the region: both the areas of strength and areas we think will be important in the future. Microwaves and antenna technologies, cybersecurity and artificial Intelligence (AI) are a few examples. Then we assist with building the networks and developing the meeting places. Bringing people from the companies, academia and the public sector together in valuable networks creates conditions for the industry to develop and grow.”

“In terms of investment promotion, I’m working very much with attracting competence by finding the right partners for existing companies that could establish operations in Gothenburg. Together with Business Sweden and other tech regions in Sweden, we work with promoting the region’s capabilities and opportunities, and take part in many Swedish and international meeting places – Web Summit, Mobile World Congress, Vitalis, GbgTechWeek, are a few examples. We also have people out in the markets who are working with promotion. Some of the best results we have had are from India.”

“Another aspect is that I help facilitate the establishment and expansion of companies in the Gothenburg region. To a large extent it’s about helping them understand the ecosystems - the areas of strength, how they are interlinked, the trends and the important meeting places. But I also provide them with guidance and advice on practical matters such as finding an office, taxes, recruitment and banking - and help open doors to valuable networks and meeting places.”

Can you give a few examples of the cases you have worked with?

“The cases have ranged from a one-person company from Copenhagen to the establishment and expansion of global companies like HCL, Tech Mahindra and L&T. I remember one day I got a call from one of these companies and they had changed from being a normal consultant to a tier one supplier to one of our big players. In the space of a day their operations grew from 30 people in Gothenburg to 130. That was the first big Indian establishment I worked with.”

“Another example is the Taiwanese company MSI with top of the line laptops for gaming and other really demanding applications. Together with Business Sweden we could assist them to establish and grow in our region, as well as the Nordics.”

Why are ICT and tech companies choosing Gothenburg? 

“We have world class-expertise in a number of niche areas including microwave technology, embedded systems and digital visualisation. In microwaves, for example, we are one of the top three leading sites in the world, together with San Diego and Boston. Some of our research is absolutely top notch. We also have three very big and dominating microwave companies – RUAG, Saab and Ericsson.”

“At the same time, we have a huge general need for developers in Sweden – around 70,000 additional people according to a national study. And in West Sweden we have big industries like manufacturing, telecom, life science and logistics; and known brands like Ericsson, Volvo, AstraZeneca and SKF. These create good opportunities for companies and talent.”    

 

Lindholmen Software Development Day
Lindholmen Software Development Day is an example of a meeting place for West Sweden's ICT and tech industries. Photo: Lindholmen Science Park

 

What advice would you give companies that are interested in establishing operations in Gothenburg?

“When I meet with a foreign company, I always say you should come here to understand the market and see what is happening. For example, if you are in AI come and meet AI Innovation of Sweden and take part in GAIA, the leading conference in the area. By using the local conferences, it’s so much easier and then they can meet the right people, get a feel for what is happening and the opportunities.”

“Once they are established here. I recommend that they join the relevant cluster networks and meeting places and be open and find ways to collaborate. By understanding the ecosystem, a single company can identify more business opportunities.”

You have followed the region's ICT and tech industries for some time now, what are a few of the key developments taking place? 

“The AI development is going quickly with rapid growth in the region. It’s being used and developed in almost every vertical, including life science, transport and manufacturing, and internet and security. It’s a key technology area of the future. With initiatives like the Chalmers AI Research Centre (CHAIR) and AI Innovation of Sweden complemented with meeting places for industry like the GAIA Conference West Sweden, the Gothenburg region is attractive for foreign companies to interact within the regional ecosystem. An important aspect is the efforts spent on raising the level of knowledge in the society of the opportunities AI is opening.

“Another development is that during the past 10 years, the tech community in Gothenburg has become much more international and we have many more relevant and high-quality meeting places. At the same time, the community has really blossomed. When I started working with ICT, Gothenburg companies were almost non-existent on Ny Teknik’s 33 list of Sweden’s top young tech businesses. Now, companies from here are dominating with eight making the latest list.”

“An additional development is that West Sweden is starting to see more interaction both ways in terms of trade and investment with both south-eastern and south-western Europe, Portugal in particular. I expect we will see more of this in the future.”

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