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Smart innovations necessary in growing cities

Gothenburg currently finds itself in the midst of the biggest development leap in modern history, through which the city will grow by almost a third. In order to meet future challenges, the Gothenburg region has adopted a long-term strategy for sustainable growth. 
“In order for the city to remain attractive during the strong growth period a focus on innovation will be necessary for continuous development and to meet the needs of the future,” says Maria Strömberg, Head of the Cluster and Innovation Department at Business Region Göteborg.

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There are already over one million people in the region and this figure is set to grow. As part of the city’s growth strategy, we have established that we need to strengthen the core of the region with additional housing and space for companies, while creating a city that is inclusive and multifunctional.
To meet the challenges that come with an increased population and the higher demands imposed on the city, then we need to become even more innovative. Innovations can include new technologies and infrastructure, new ways of working together, and new business models. 

“When you build something new, you have an incredible chance to use new, smart solutions. This can entail, for example, finding resources that can be used for multiple purposes, building more densely to accommodate more functions in the same area and extending accessibility to more people, or sharing space or services,” Maria Strömberg continues.

“Gothenburg is a very sparsely built city today. If you were to build more densely, for example, it may mean that we would not be able to transport ourselves in the same way as we do today, but must instead find new smart solutions,” says Lars Bern, Area Manager for Innovation at Business Region Göteborg. 

It is a question of creating sustainable growth by future-proofing from both social and environmental perspectives – and that is the key to new innovations. 

“The huge developmental leap that we are now undergoing means that there will be huge amounts of money in the city in the form of buildings and infrastructure, as well as businesses and services, so it makes complete sense to implement all aspects of this developmental leap in as sustainable and innovative a way as possible,” says Maria Strömberg. 

Maria Strömberg Lars Bern

Developmental leap creates market potential
The city needs to be built in a new way, with all the challenges this entails, thus opening up markets for new solutions and ideas, creating additional attraction to the Gothenburg region. 

“The developmental leap in itself also creates attraction for those who want to be a part of the process and for those who have exciting solutions to contribute. New solutions and ideas also bring, in turn, new entrepreneurs and business opportunities for operators who are currently not established in the region. This kind of development journey that we have in the city opens doors for innovative ideas that create market potential,” says Maria Strömberg.

“Increased market potential contributes, in turn, to increased investment and establishment of companies that generate additional attractiveness and increased employment,” says Maria Strömberg.

A sustainable future requires innovation 
The City of Gothenburg has major ambitions for the future. It wants to be a sustainable city open to the world, which can be seen in the City’s many programmes and strategies. The Environment Programme, the Climate Strategy, the Traffic Strategy, the Business Programme and the Equality Programme are some examples of these ambitions. Highly vulnerable future goals create major challenges that require us to think in new ways as a city. 
In order to achieve these goals, new innovations and new ideas will be required, opening up new business opportunities.

Western Sweden – a leading region in innovation
The EU's Regional Innovation Scoreboard, which measures innovation capacity in 214 European regions, describes Western Sweden as an innovation leader in Europe and assigns the region high scores in areas such as exports of hi-tech goods, process and product development within SME and a well-educated population. 

“Much of this is down to the fact that Sweden is a well-developed country in terms of education and living standards, and its good conditions for logistics and IT infrastructure, for example. But also because we have a long history of good interaction between industry, the public sector, academia and institutes here in the region. This is one of our greatest strengths!” says Maria Strömberg.

Moreover, 25 percent of Sweden’s total research and development investments in the private sector takes place in the Gothenburg region*, which contributes to the great innovative power in the region. 
Much of the innovation grounded in the region naturally takes place in the automotive industry and the Life science industry, but innovation is also a powerful force in the services sector, which contributes to the large industries. Of Sweden’s total research and investment funding, Western Sweden’s automotive industry accounts for 61 percent, chemicals, food and pharmaceuticals for 42 percent and business services for 27 percent.

Collaboration the key to a good innovation climate
“Sweden is a small country and when we go out into the world, we often need to support each other and to draw lessons from the forerunners in our vicinity,” says Lars Bern.

The city contributes by offering urban spaces where industry and innovators can showcase their latest solutions, for example in the context of exports or in various forms of foreign delegation visits. In addition, energy industry operators and infrastructure providers can test their innovations in the city’s urban environments. 

Other types of testbeds are also available around the Gothenburg region, which can boast of being the most testbed-dense region in the country. There are both lab environments as well as simulated environments and reality labs within the fields of vehicles and transport, urban development, life science, ICT and energy. 
In many of the region’s testbeds, academia, institutes, industry and the public sector work together to create smart innovations. Furthermore, there are three science parks that offer many kinds of cooperation opportunities in different disciplines and industries.

“We have long worked to provide a platform for industry, academia, institutes and public actors to meet and collaborate, which has resulted in a widespread cooperative spirit in the region that makes for a good innovation climate. Here, I dare say, that we as a region are a pioneer,” says Maria Strömberg.

If you as a company want to increase your innovation capacity, Business Region Göteborg can provide advice and support in many ways. 

Business Region Göteborg has extensive knowledge of the companies in the region and has a large network of actors in research and academia, within institutes and within the City and can guide companies along the right path to realise an idea they want to test, to find customers or to identify potential partners. Business Region Göteborg also helps to shape projects and find funding, both locally, nationally and at EU level.

If you as an entrepreneur want to develop yourself and your company, Business Region Göteborg can provide support in many ways. Through the "Expedition Framåt" programme, we give small and medium-sized enterprises the power to evolve. The programme gives these enterprises access to a personal business advisor as a sounding board and, together with experts in development, analyses the company’s strengths and threats.

Business Region Göteborg is also a member of the Enterprise Europe Network, EEN, a European network that helps with information and advice within the EU. You can turn to the network, for example, to find partners for research projects or technology collaborations. The EEN also offers help to strengthen the innovation capacity of companies for those who want to develop their business concepts, and to find EU-funded innovation support.

Business Region Göteborg also helps to provide guidance about the region’s various testbeds and science parks, where you as an innovator can try out your ideas or seek cooperation and business partners. 

“We offer many more opportunities than many may know about,” Lars Bern concludes.

*Refers to companies’ R&D investments in Västra Götaland County. Source: Statistics Sweden

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