If there’s one typically Swedish quality, it’s a readiness to cooperate. Perhaps it’s down to Sweden’s relative remoteness compared to the rest of Europe, or the fact that the population has only just tipped the 10 million mark.
Whatever the reason, Sweden’s “strength in numbers” mentality has become a surprising secret weapon for the Stockholm region, leading to several international companies choosing to set up operations near the Swedish capital.
In 2017 alone, German e-commerce giant Zalando chose Stockholm county for its first Nordic fulfilment centre, and Danish stone wool manufacturer ROCKWOOL purchased 180,000 square meters of land in Eskilstuna Logistics Park for its future facility.
And in 2018, cloud computing behemoth Amazon Web Services (AWS) will open three data centres close to Stockholm in Västerås, Eskilstuna, and Katrineholm.
While the three towns hosting the new AWS data centres may all be more than 100 kilometers from central Stockholm, local officials are quick to credit a little-known alliance based in the Swedish capital for helping bring Amazon to their communities.
“Amazon came to us through Stockholm Business Alliance,” explains Eva Lilja, Business Director for Västerås, referring to a voluntary partnership between 55 municipalities in eight counties in and around the Swedish capital.
Founded in 2006, the Stockholm Business Alliance (SBA) has provided members with a range of support services including investment promotion, international marketing, and business climate benchmarking.
When Lilja and her colleagues in Västerås responded to a series of questions from SBA, they had no idea they were courting a global leader in cloud computing.
“The company remained anonymous,” Lilja recalls. “We’d never have reached Amazon otherwise.”
While SBA may not be be well-known among residents of the member communities, it nevertheless plays a vital role in helping deliver insights and contacts to potential investors, giving smaller communities a chance to compete for projects that might otherwise be beyond their reach.
“Being a smaller city we don’t have the resources to compete on an international level,” Lilja explains.