Välkommen till Norrbotten

Grassroots. A look into a bottom-up mentality. Power begins with the people. It begins with you. Interaction the precursor, conflict the catalyst, with common purpose providing direction. A unified drive towards growth – sustainable and social as a wildebeest, deep in fervor – manic in its determination. It begins with the people. So let us ask you a formative question: how do you define growth? Is it a recreation of the old, or introduction of the new? Or is it some amalgamation between the two? Whatever your answer may be, pause for a moment. Consider your future. Better yet, consider the future of your family, your neighbors, your friends and foes. Norrbotten is a prideful place, quiet but loud in its demeanor. It is not a splash that will be felt across the globe, but a tidal wave. Just you wait.

We got a chance to visit a few unique companies in Piteå and Lulleå in a span of two days. Starting off with a tannery called Bōle which a family business, in operation since 1899, currently managed by the fourth generation. The company believes that quality cannot be hurried and makes leather products that last a lifetime. Also, have a reputation of having an eye for detail, every move, every stitch has a touch of perfection and finesse. Then, we got to meet a datacenter company, Fortlax where we got learn about the owner's entrepreneurial journey and how he got BMW as a client, by displaying persistence and building relationships with people in the company over time as “business is not done with companies but with people”. The key to his success was actually “not knowing everything” because knowing everything leads to hesitance, an addition of fear. Afterwards, we got to meet the Mayor of Piteå over lunch where we learnt a bit about Swedish politics, steps taken for the city to grow and how democracy is rooted to the local/community level. Last trip of the day was to Piteå Science Park where we learnt about all the new sustainable and innovative projects in their incubator and also got to experience their state-of-art concert hall, Studio Acusticum which was built in 2007, with 9000 organ pipes and adjustable ceiling making it one of best concert hall in the world in terms of sound quality. Back at the hotel, we got a chance to meet the hotel director over evening cocktails on their rooftop bar.

Next day, we visited companies in Lulleå where we first met with the Mayor of the city and his team where we got to know about the steps taken by the city to make it world-class by attracting best talent in the world, by creating business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Next, we visited Compodium, a company that makes high security video communication products. The company taught us that nothing can be finished. An organizational climate is best kept as a work-in-progress – facilitating the continuation and creation of the new. New ideas, new thoughts, new frameworks for problem resolution. Later on, we met Arctic Group over lunch where we understood the advantages of doing business in a smaller city like Lulleå and how a flat organizational structure helps their company to extract best of its employees. Post that, we got a chance to engage with Lulleå Science Park, where we got to know how they help to shape business ideas by providing consulting, space in their incubators etc. to help build companies with futuristic and innovative ideas. Then, we met with BehavioSec, which tries to understand the science and behavior of humans by understanding humans with their day-to-day activities which usually go unnoticed.

After meeting these people over a time period of two days in Norrbotten area of Sweden, a few things are very clear about the Swedish business culture – shared enterprise, trust,  strength through community, cooperative and sustainability is a key agenda.