Evolving Industries in Norrbotten, Sweden

 

Almost every city in Sweden has a science park where there is a community of many scientific companies and incubators. We were lucky enough to visit Pitea and Lulea’s science parks. One of the many innovative companies in the Lulea is Compodium, whose main business is to provide security solutions to top decision makers. The CEO, Bengt Grain, told us that in order to make a business successful, we must keep in mind that it is never finished. He suggested that a business should strive for continuous improvement and that it should keep evolving when circumstances change. He also added that for Compodium, timing is the most crucial factor leading to their success.

Compodium in
Lulea, Sweden

After visiting Compodium, we had a chance to meet Lulea’s mayor, Niklas Nordstrom. At the city hall, we learned about how Lulea has been developing and evolving since last several decades. Ever since Lulea won the opportunity to collaborate with Facebook, and house Facebook’s first international data center, Lulea became famous across the world. The Facebook data center in Lulea has created more than 4,000 jobs. By utilizing hydropower and clean sources of energy, Lulea’s Facebook data center is one of the ‘cleanest’ data centers in the world. The Facebook data center made the city of Lulea realize its potential as a data and technology hub.

Niklas Nordstrom, Mayor of Lulea

While the people of the Norrbotten region of Northern Sweden were aware of the area’s cool temperatures, stable energy grid, and little risk of natural disaster, the people didn’t realize that these could be formed into core competencies to be competitive in the data and tech industries until Facebook came along. The northern city was historically focused on lumberjacks, pulp mills, and the wood industry until technology and automation disrupted the industry and workers lost their jobs. In response, cities like Lulea were able to transform the city’s business focus from the declining wood industry to the growing industries of data, technology, IT, and business development. Lulea was able to transform by leveraging their core competencies of cool climate and stability to give the region a competitive advantage over other areas. Once Facebook entered Lulea, the city’s focus shifted to cater to the growing tech industries.

Furthermore, during the current years, the city uses its ample natural resources to build “place innovation” tree hotels, in addition to ice instruments, and ice engraving that attracts more tourism. The city also has many nonprofit organizations that help students make their innvoative ideas a reality by working with businesses. In the science park, there are incubators that help foster further entrepreneurship and innovation, which helps attract foreign companies. Before Facebook and the tech industry, Lulea was not doing well in terms of unemployment and salary, while now the city is flourishing compared to other cities of Sweden.

Even though Pitea and Lulea are very small cities, scientific and technology companies in the two cities are increasing their connection to other countries. In order to decrease the unemployment rate and increase salary, Pitea and Lulea have been making an effort to transfer the old lumberjack industry to a new, innovative and scientific industry. While Pitea and Lulea may be scarcely populated, the cities have the potential to be tech industry powerhouses that put Norrbotten in a competitive position in the industry.