Marking Swedish National Day on 6 June Swedish Ambassador Camilla Mellander, Embassy of Sweden in Hanoi highlights Swedish innovation and its development towards sustainability in this article.
By Camilla Mellander
On June 6, we Swedes celebrate our National Day. At the end of the 19th century, Sweden was a poor rural country, but in the 20th century, the economy took off. In 2013 we had a GDP/capita of about US$60,000 – among the highest in the world.
Innovation has been one of the key success factors to this economic growth, and in Sweden our open and free environment has meant that innovation and creativity can prosper. In this article I would like to mention three areas where our innovativeness propelled us to the forefront.
Sweden as an IT hub
Sweden is one of the most connected countries in the world. More than 99 per cent of Swedes have access to internet broadband. There are also quite a few IT innovations coming from Sweden.
If you use a computer mouse, talked to friends and family through Skype or listened to streamed music through Spotify, then you are using Swedish innovations.
Swedish IT companies continue to innovate. Stockholm has become one of Europe’s leading hubs of information technology research. Stockholm is now second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to billion-dollar IT-startups. Mojang, the company behind the global success Minecraft, was bought by Microsoft for a staggering US$2.5 billion last year.
I am happy to see the positive development in the Vietnamese IT sector with the recent launch of Viet Nam’s first homegrown smartphone – Bphone by BKAV. This is an example of Viet Nam moving up the value-chain in its key export industries and becoming increasingly innovative.
Sweden also prides itself on innovations in the clean-tech sector. We have shown that economic growth and preserving the environment can go hand-in-hand. The Swedish economy has nearly doubled since the 70’s and at the same time emissions have nearly halved.
About half of all energy consumed in Sweden comes from renewable sources. We are also turning waste into valuable energy and in fact Sweden is today a net importer of waste that we use for our heating systems. Only about one per cent of our waste goes in landfills, the rest is recycled. Buses and taxis in many Swedish cities now run on biogas that is produced from household and industrial waste.
Swedish cleantech companies are active in a wide range of fields, such as waste water cleaning, biogas, waste-to-energy and just to mention a few.
Many of these innovative cleantech companies have started to work here in Viet Nam as well, bringing technology that can help Viet Nam on its path to becoming a greener economy. We are encouraging more of them to come.
The last area I would like to mention is the Swedish music industry. Starting in the 70’s with ABBA, through the 80’s and 90’s with bands such as Roxette, Europe and Ace of Bace and now Avicii, Swedish House Mafia and Robyn are conquering the world with their hits.
Swedish producers also working behind the scenes of other successful artists, Max Martin for example is producing for world-known artists such as Britney Spears, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. He now has the third most Billboard top hits in the world only after John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Sweden is by far the largest music exporter in per capita terms and the third largest in the world in real terms. We are only surpassed by the United States and the United Kingdom.
A recent success was achieved only two weeks ago when Mans Zelmerlow with his song Heroes won the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden. This marked the sixth time Sweden win the award.
To have music you need creativity. To have creativity you need an open and tolerant society. This creativity will then translate both into Billboard hits and technology innovation which will lead to economic growth. This is the path Sweden has chosen with creativity and innovation hand-in-hand.
Republished with kind permission from the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi.
The article first appeared in Viet Nam News.