By Jenny Egnér Lin
How did Stockholm become a hub for startups? What are the possibilities to found your own company? What are the work opportunities for international students after graduating from university? The startup scene in Stockholm has been flourishing over the last years, and companies such as Spotify and Skype, growing from an idea to a multimillion global business, are leading the way for innovative startups based in Stockholm.
Simple legislation, world class education, and a culture fostering innovation are key points explaining why the relatively small country Sweden is home to global pioneering companies. IKEA, H&M, Ericsson, and Volvo, to name a few, are multinational corporations all founded in Sweden. The capital Stockholm attracts forward-thinking people, and with a mix of leading universities, companies, think tanks, startup accelerators, and investors, the city provides all you need to build a successful company.
Swedish legislation is making it easy to found a company. To promote entrepreneurship and business in Sweden, the laws regulating businesses are beneficial for entrepreneurs and corporations. Simple and user-friendly taxation laws and paperwork make it easy to found and run a company. It takes five minutes to register a company online, compliant with the taxation authority.
Stockholm is the home of several leading universities in their respective fields of study. Karolinska Institutet is a highly regarded university of medicine, Stockholm School of Economics is the top business school in Sweden, KTH Royal Institute of Technology teaches architecture and engineering, and Stockholm University, being the largest of them all, offers a wide range of programs. These are just a handful of the educational institutions in Stockholm.
The work culture in Sweden supports innovation. People take pride in their work and in making an honest living. While people usually don’t brag about their accomplishments, they tend to remain humble, and do the work that they are supposed to do. “Frihet under ansvar”, meaning freedom under responsibility, is a popular saying that explains the culture of allowing people the freedom to do what they want, as long as they are responsible for their actions. Flat hierarchies with informal communication between coworkers is a common organisational feature. Many companies urge employees from all levels of the organisation to contribute with their suggestions to improve systems.
Read more about Sweden and the their scholarship opportunities here!
There is an entire ecosystem to support startups in Stockholm. Universities, startup accelerators, investors, and events offer support to entrepreneurs through knowledge and capital.
Universities often have resources, contacts, and courses to help students in their careers. Large universities host events with companies, founders, and inspirational keynote speakers on a weekly basis. Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship (SSES) was founded as a bridge between the universities Stockholm University, Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm School of Economics, and Konstfack, to offer courses and workshops in the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, and self-development. Students from the different universities work together in these courses, allowing students to become more open-minded as they share knowledge across fields.
There are several noteworthy startup accelerators and coworking spaces in Stockholm. Norrsken is an ecosystem consisting of Norrsken House, a coworking space with over 350 impact entrepreneurs, and their seed fund Norrsken Founders Fund, which invests in tech companies with the potential to radically improve the world. SUP46, which stands for Start Up People 46, is an accelerator for a select number of startups. Impact Hub is a global startup accelerator and coworking space, with over 100 locations in more than 50 countries. They focus on companies that work for social and environmental impact.
Startup accelerators, angel investors, private equity firms, and crowdfunding via online platforms are some options if you need to raise capital for your startup.
There are plentiful events hosted by startup accelerators, coworking spaces, and universities and other organisations, where you can find inspiration and information about how to launch a company. Events are also an opportunity to meet and mingle with potential stakeholders and investors.
There are many opportunities for international students to work in Sweden during and after completing their studies. International students with a residence permit in Sweden are allowed to work alongside their studies. If you want to stay and work in Sweden after completing your studies, you need a work permit. For information on how to obtain a work permit for international students, read the regulations at the Swedish immigration authority Migrationsverket. Beware that the rules may change by the time you have arrived in Sweden, and make sure you have the latest information via their website.
About the author: Jenny Egnér Lin is born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, and holds a B.Sc. in Business and Economics from Stockholm School of Economics and a M.Sc. in Strategic Market Creation from Copenhagen Business School. With firsthand experience from studying in Scandinavia, she is sharing prime insights about student life in Northern Europe, and Sweden in particular.