It can be difficult for smaller companies undergoing rapid growth to quickly obtain an overview of support available from financial backers and innovation champions. Through the Grow Sweden Platform initiative, RISE and Swedish Incubators & Science Parks (SISP) endeavour to make it possible for companies to grow with Sweden as a base while focusing on a global market.
There is hardly a shortage of players at present whose mission is to assist technology-centric and innovative companies. Grow Sweden Platform includes financial backers such as Vinnova, Almi and the Swedish Energy Agency, along with incubators and Science Parks*, Business Sweden, RISE and others providing innovation support. For a smaller company with lean overheads and tight timetables, the plethora of support and acronyms can be difficult to navigate. And the timing can be wrong.
“If you come with your company to RISE today, we are often geared up for a comprehensive undertaking. But for a scaling-up company, time is one of the critical factors. It may be more worthwhile to initially test a smaller part or to meet an expert for a day,” says Anders Persson, Head of RISE’s office for small and medium-sized enterprises.
In order to meet the needs of companies in growth, RISE and Swedish Incubators & Science Parks (SISP) have taken the initiative to invest in these types of companies in Sweden. The result, dubbed Grow Sweden Platform, is intended to serve as the tie that better binds experts and facilities in the innovation system with pioneers who may prove pivotal in transforming society. Focus is on serious future societal challenges linked to the global goals in the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. A pilot project has been planned with 5-10 companies, a few of which work with smart energy solutions.
Once the pilot project in Grow Sweden Platform has achieved its goal, the hope is that a best practice of sorts will be crystallized for the companies’ journey through the Swedish innovation system. Along the way, more intelligent investments must be made which better match the companies’ actual needs.
This sector of companies is characterised by high innovation power and mobility, which are invaluable when it comes to utilising the types of solutions required to transition to a sustainable society.
“For companies with complex business models and technological and innovative novelty, the innovation support system is indispensable. Prerequisites for growth are wildly different and companies will require different things,” says Persson.
The team, the right partnership, and the scalability of the business model are a few key factors, with funding being another. Sweden offers a modest domestic market, and it has been challenging historically to secure capital for industrialisation during the expansion phase. And delivery requirements for public tenders also constitute a hindrance.
“Scaling-up companies operate in a global market. In some cases, scaling up may result in the relocation of developmental resources abroad, closer to their market. Important skills and competencies which then leave Sweden,” says Persson.
An overall goal of the Grow Sweden Platform initiative is to make it more appealing for growing companies at the bleeding edge of technology to continue to grow globally but with Sweden as a base, while also enticing foreign companies to establish research and development in Sweden.
*: Grouped in the Swedish industry association Swedish Incubators & Science Parks (SISP)