10 things that make Stockholm a leading foodtech hub

Foodtech is set to bring about the disruption of the food ecosystem via technology and innovation. Places with a high degree of health-consciousness, sustainability, change-mindedness and technological maturity are set to lead the way. As one such place, Stockholm is a fantastic home to the burgeoning Foodtech sector.

How big is the Foodtech opportunity? In Sweden, the food retail sector was worth SEK 261 billion in 2016 and 272 billion 2017, according to SCB/HUI, of which restaurants stood for SEK 99 billion in 2016 and 132,9 billion in 2017. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the Swedish Foodtech sector, (including ripple effects), will reach a turnover of SEK 45 billion by 2025.

As the fastest-growing city in Europe, with a population expected to grow by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050, Stockholm is a potentially unique testbed for new systems aimed at growing food in cities and integrating these new food distribution systems in urban development. In addition, these 10 things make Stockholm a fantastic home to the burgeoning Foodtech sector are:

1. A culinary hub 

The new Nordic kitchen with its emphasis on ethics, health, quality and sustainability is a philosophy providing mesmerizing culinary experiences, tying the notion of good food into all aspects of society. At the vanguard of the development are a number of Stockholm chefs who have transformed the Stockholm food and restaurant scene and made it a world-renowned destination for food tourism. By doing so, they have lifted the entire food scene in both Stockholm and the whole of Sweden. The food scene is far from a domain reserved for top chefs, as a number of new entrepreneurs have been lifting the entire food sector, setting up new restaurants, shops, food trucks, and services around food. They have proven that new ways of doing things appeal to modern city dwellers. Food is not only in everyone’s mouth, it is on everyone’s lips. 

2. Environmentally aware

Stockholm is simply one of the foremost places on the planet when it comes to being environmentally friendly. Sweden is repeatedly in the run for first spot in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, with Stockholm leading the way when it comes to national ambitions. Long gone are the days when caring for the environment was nothing more than a must-have line in CSR reports. Today, the environment comes first, second and third. The fact that Stockholm Resilience Center has established itself as one of the planet’s foremost research centers on environmental issues is yet another proof of that commitment. 

3. Health-conscious

Talking about food also means talking about health, whether it is about being helped or being harmed by food habits. Healthcare is the planet’s second largest economic system, representing nine percent of global GDP, and in order to provide healthcare to all, we need to become healthier overall. In this regard, Stockholm has a very health-minded population. The strong Swedish healthcare system, spearheaded by the Karolinska Institutet University Hospital in Stockholm, and a strong research community paired with very dynamic pharmaceutical and Medtech sectors, have created a unique opportunity to bring about new food-based health solutions using the pooled expertise of the food and healthcare industries.

4. Change-minded

In Stockholm, we live and breathe change. We love to try new things and development is considered a key to living a fulfilling life. No wonder then that many large multinational corporations have chosen Stockholm as a testbed for new products and services. As the saying goes, if it catches on in Stockholm, chances are good that others will follow suite. If you are interested in new trends for products and services in the food sector, Stockholm is a place to watch. If you want to try out new things, Stockholm is the place to be.

5. A world-renowned tech hub

Stockholm is widely recognized as one of the strongest and most dynamic tech hubs in the world. The stream of global tech successes having Stockholm as their birthplace is growing by the day. Building upon a long tradition of innovation and a dynamic tech ecosystem, Stockholm is home to many unicorns (startup companies valued at USD 1 billion), including Spotify, Klarna, Skype, Mojang, King and iZettle. The Scandinavian city is a gateway to the other Nordic countries and a great hub for operations in all of Europe. Programmer is the most common job title in Stockholm and the most commonly named career plan for students graduating from university is ”entrepreneur”.

6. Home to one of Europe’s leading investor communities

Stockholm is not only home to some of Europe’s leading venture capital firms, it also hosts a large group of active angel investors and family offices. Stockholm being a leading financial hub as well as the host for global headquarters of many large multinational corporations also means that entrepreneurs have easy access to a wide-ranging expertise on capital and international business.

7. Host to a wealth of tech events 

Stockholm is host to a number of leading arenas and conferences for the regional and global tech sector. Each year major thought-leading Foodtech events take place in the city, including Sweden Foodtech Big Meet and EAT Forum, the global food policy event founded by Gunhild Stordalen. Both events are held in connection to the world’s largest restaurant and food festival, Smaka på Stockholm (A Taste of Stockholm), bringing some 350,000 people to Kungsträdgården (the King’s Garden) at the very heart of Stockholm for an entire week dedicated to talks, tastings and networking. Many other fantastic Foodtech events are produced during the year by organizations such as Open Labs and Matlust.

8. An innovation-driver through innovation grants 

Both Swedish innovation agencies, Tillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, and Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency, have programs aimed at entrepreneurs in the Foodtech sector, effectively funding the future of the fast-growing sector.

9. A strong public interest 

The Swedish interest for food goes well beyond chefs, restaurants and retailers, big and small alike, and spreads its taste for innovation and change into the entire tech ecosystem in Stockholm. This includes the public sector, with a new food strategy from the Department of Agriculture, and its upcoming equivalent from the region of Stockholm. Food served in public sector organizations including schools and hospitals, represents 40 percent of all meals served outside of the home, and is currently getting a lot of attention as it places locally produced, sustainable and healthy food at its core. The city of Stockholm is not only a major buyer of food, it also pours resources into becoming a leading player in urban farming, with several cultivation centres established around the city, weaving the notion of the urban food system into the very fabric of city planning. 

10. Attitude! Loads of it 

The size of Stockholm is one of the city’s major strengths; it is at the same time big enough to provide scale and small enough to remain agile. Another major plus is the attitude of everyone in the ecosystem, where openness, positivity and a unique pay-it-forward culture prevails, no matter whether you talk to a director of a large industrial behemoth or to a newly-hatched programmer. Contacts are quickly made and knowledge is shared; ask for help and you will get it. Trust your neighbour, and they will trust you.

Find out more about Stockholm’s fast-growing Foodtech scene in our new Stockholm Foodtech Report