Anybody who thinks Swedish exports begin and end with blonde pop divas, meatballs and flat-pack furniture which requires a Masters degree in logistics to assemble has been missing a trick for at least the last decade or two. In fact this large but relatively sparsely populated country is a veritable technological powerhouse boasting some of the planet’s most identifiable brands.
As recently as 2014 the capital Stockholm, with a population smaller than that of Glasgow, took in 15 per cent of all foreign investment in the European technological sector. After Silicon Valley, Stockholm today boasts the highest number of billion-dollar tech companies per capita in the world. In Sweden in general a healthy economy has given the country’s entrepreneurs the environment and the confidence they need to invest heavily in companies and in ideas.
A seminal contribution
Whilst most people will be aware that Saab have made some spiffy fighter jets and Volvo routinely turn out motor cars which seem to last forever, fewer will be aware that Skype and Spotify also emanate from Moder Svea. And yet both have made a seminal contribution to the ongoing technological revolution, the former in real-time international video communication and the latter leading the way in music and video streaming – but more of that anon.
Another Swedish success story in the tech world is the video game developer and publisher Mojang, best known for the ever-popular Minecraft game. A few years ago Mojang, which again is located in Stockholm, was acquired by Microsoft. That other favourite of the gaming community (and bane of those who do not partake), Candy Crush, also has its origins in this fine land.
It isn’t hard then to see where our love for all things technological comes from, that is myself and my partners, bearing in mind that we all call Stockholm home. We have an insatiable appetite for new gadgets and fresh concepts, and dabbling in the wizardry of the electronic age.
Setting the pace of technological change
Of course innovation isn’t something which arrived with the internet, in fact it goes back to the dawn of human civilisation and probably before that too. Not quite that far back was the invention of the pacemaker, which has saved countless lives around the world by helping to keep hearts beating. Another Swedish invention. As was the safety match and the modern seatbelt.
The global positioning system that uses radio communication and satellite navigation to transmit the GPS position of ships and aircraft was invented by a Swede too.
But as a devotee of Apple, Sweden’s biggest achievement in my book has been Spotify as it has forced Apple into the same market with its own rival streaming service. Which, of course, is the absolute best – as all Apple products are. But it started in Sweden, where the three of us are from, and that gives us a sense of pride. In fact we feel like Apple’s movement into the music streaming was down to us. Well, kind of anyway…