Tech City Spotlight: Stockholm
By the year 2000 76% of homes in Sweden has a personal computer. To put this into context in the US this figure was only 51%. This in part led to a population with a great affinity for technology – how to use it and how to get creative with it. Today Sweden is a small Nordic country with a history of growing global brands (Volvo, Lego, IKEA, H&M) and a country punching above its weight in creativity and innovation. It is also one of the most digital societies in the world (94% of the population are online).
Stockholm is the driving force of Sweden, a city in second place for the fin-tech capital of Europe, just behind London. Incredibly it is the second most prolific tech hub in the world on a per capita basis, producing 6.3 billion-dollar companies per million people. Companies based in Stockholm received 50% of the entire amount of venture capital invested across all five of the Nordic countries last year.
Described as a ‘unicorn factory’ Stockholm produces a disproportionate number of high value companies and has birthed more billion dollar tech companies than anywhere in Europe, including Spotify, Klarna, Skype and King. But it is specifically the fin-tech sector that is growing incredibly fast. With a solid history of banking and commerce the city is naturally good at integrating new technology in the financial sector – it’s quickly becoming a completely cashless society. iZettle and Trustly are another two Stockholm stars changing the way global consumers and businesses manage their money.
Sweden is ranked the tenth happiest country in the world. There is a slower and quieter approach to life where excess is considered to be vulgar. This culture stems from Jantelagen, a set of rules which prioritise collective success over individual success and promotes humility over hierarchy. Although slightly old-fashioned now it has been the driving force behind behind the public policies that support a high quality of life, a good work life balance and it’s what allows local entrepreneurship to thrive. A famous example of Jantelagen in practice is IKEA, a company where cost-consciousness is one of the core values. At IKEA first-class flights are a taboo – employees of all levels would make a 500km journey by car if no economy flights were available!
Here’s the inside scoop!
Where to live:
Voted third in Vogue’s 15 coolest neighborhoods in the world, Södermalm is where the cool and in-the-know Swedes flock to. The island is located just to the south of the city’s center and is packed with top-notch vintage boutiques, galleries and independent shops and bars.
Östermalm is the most exclusive part of town with some of the city’s most beautiful buildings. Here you’ll find speciality shops, fancy apartment blocks and much of the city’s nightlife. It is also the best place for people watching – Swedish royalty are often spotted in the area. Kungsholmen is the area for those on a tighter budget. Unpretentious, relaxed and peaceful with scenic waterside walkways and parks.
Where to eat:
Crowdfunded restaurant Flippin’ Burgers serves up American style burgers – the founder actually travelled around the US to find the perfect recipe and many fans would say he excelled. Often a queue but well worth the wait. Hermans Trädgårdscafé is arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in Stockholm. Fill up on the inventive and flavourful buffet while overlooking the city’s skyline. For classic Swedish food try Nytorget 6 in the hip SoFo section of Södermalm. There’s also two cocktail bars, a club and a small theatre in the restaurant to explore after dinner.
Where to drink:
East bar has a high-tech, Asian vibe. Live DJs and an outdoor seating area make it a popular spot. To party with the locals check out Taverna Brillo in Stureplan, a buzzing bar with a ‘marketplace’ which includes a florist, bakery, pizzeria and gelateria. For something a bit special try Nosh and Chow – the interior and atmosphere are sure to impress. Berns is a stunning, all encompassing 19th-century baroque house in Berzeli Park with a restaurant, upmarket club and hotel.
What to do:
With all the islands and bridges Stockholm is the perfect city to discover on foot. Museum and gallery hotspots include Skeppargatan in Östermalm, the eastern end of Hornsgatan in Södermalm, Österlanggatan in Gamla Stan, and Skeppsholmen. Spend lazy Sundays strolling around the green island of Djurgården, a real calm oasis. Grab brunch at Djurgårdsbrunn.