Social innovation in Sweden
Sweden is the richest country of Northern Europe with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that was worth 430 million Euros in 2014 and a population of nearly 10 million inhabitants. The country’s wealth is predominantly based on a competitive industrial sector, combining leadership in raw materials, new information and communication technologies, as well as biotechnology and creative industries.
The country ranks second after Norway in the most recent ranking of the Positive Economy Forum (2015 Positivity Index). Based on this Positivity Index, Sweden is a country “where young people should be living”, one “that prepares them well for their future”.
While the social innovation sector progressively benefits from new financial aids, Sweden is developing funding mechanisms and supporting structures for changemakers.
Sweden’s commitment to Human Rights makes it a favored destination for refugees and asylum seekers. As about 81,000 people were welcome in 2014, Sweden has accepted the largest number of refugees in proportion to its population among other EU members.
For the third consecutive year, the Positive Economy forum published the results of the positive economy index for the 34 OECD countries. This new economic index aims to assess the capacity of one economy to integrate altruism and future generations into its national priorities. As mentioned above and according to this ranking, Sweden is a country “where young people should be living“, “a country that prepares them well for their future”.
Lund University, Malmö University and the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Sweden published a report representing the continuation of a national dialogue among actors across Sweden with the aim of identifying promising areas of development for the social innovation system. The output of this dialogue is a list of suggestions that would support the advancement of social innovation knowledge and practice within academia, the public sector, civil society and business. Their recommendations are focused around four areas that are needed in order to grow the competence and capacity for social innovation in Sweden.
Lund University’s vision is to be a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition. They see their support for social innovation as one of many ways to improve their impact on and interaction with society. With this in mind, apart from the renowned innovation research center CIRCLE, in 2012 they also initiated the Lund University Social Innovation Center to strengthen social innovations from, within and around the university. Research means using money as an input to create knowledge and competence while innovation means using knowledge and competence to create impact and growth.
Education is the key! MatteCentrum is creating a network of math programs to make math vibrant, exciting, and respected as a key skill for success. Its tutoring programs are community-based, building a web of experts—from engineers to PhDs and beyond—to create a culture where math is easy and interesting. With a comprehensive approach utilizing YouTube, phone apps, online support programs and simulators, public math events, and an international network of tutors, MatteCentrum is building a new generation of math experts
The natural Step is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to education, advisory work, system change initiatives, innovation and research in sustainable development. Since 1989, they have worked with thousands of corporations, municipalities, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations that have proven that moving strategically toward sustainability leads to new opportunities, reduced costs and dramatically reduced ecological and social impacts. With twenty-five years of experience helping organizations and individuals understand and make meaningful progress toward sustainability, The Natural Step has offices, associates and strategic partners in 12 countries.
Following The Natural Step model, a large number of Swedish organizations are pioneers in research on sustainable development and environmental protection. Whether there are research institutes or social entreprises, they all aim to search for and propose innovative solutions to climate change.
The Stockholm Resilience Center advances research on the governance of social-ecological systems with a special emphasis on resilience – the ability to deal with change and continue to develop.
More specifically, resilience is the long-term capacity of a system to deal with change and continue to develop. For an ecosystem such as a forest, this can involve dealing with storms, fires and pollution, while for a society it involves an ability to deal with political uncertainty or natural disasters in a way that is sustainable in the long-term.
Increased knowledge of how we can strengthen resilience in society and nature is becoming increasingly important in coping with the stresses caused by climate change and other environmental impacts.
The vision of the Stockholm Resilience Centre is a world where social-ecological systems are understood, governed and managed, to enhance human well-being and the capacity to deal with complexity and change, for the sustainable co-evolution of human civilizations with the biosphere.
“Our societies are an integrated part of the biosphere and dependent upon functioning ecosystems. That is why we need to manage ecosystems so that we can handle the future’s challenges and maintain our capacity to evolve in a positive way,” says scientific director Carl Folke.
The mission of Stockholm Resilience Centre is to advance research for governance and management of social-ecological systems to secure ecosystem services for human wellbeing and resilience for long-term sustainability. The Centre applies and further develops the scientific advancements of this research within practice, policy, and in academic training.
“By combining new forms of cooperation with a holistic perspective, we hope to generate the insights that are needed to strengthen societies’ and the ecosystems’ capacities to meet a world which spins faster and faster,” says Folke.
The Stockholm Environment Institute is an independent international research institute specialising in sustainable development and environmental issues.
SEI was formally established in 1989 by the Swedish Government and celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 2014. Their goal is to bring about change for sustainable development by bridging science and policy. They do this by providing integrated analysis that supports decision-makers. The institute has built a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development.
The Mistra foundation supports research into environmental issues that contribute to a sustainable society. Mistra invests around 21 million € in research each year.
Mistra invests in research aimed at solving key environmental problems and promoting Sweden’s future competitiveness. Mistra’s research programs are conducted (developed / implemented ) in a close dialogue with companies, public agencies and other users, to ensure that research findings are putinto practice.
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is the national agency for environmental protection and nature conservation, as well as for outdoor recreation and hunting issues, the agency’s key tasks are to present proposals for environmental policy and legislation to the Swedish government and ensure that environmental policy decisions are implemented.
How is the climate faring? How good is the quality of our urban air? What steps do we need to take to protect nature and wildlife? These are a few of the many questions that engage the Agency.
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation is a non-profit organisation that raises awareness, tracks environmental threats, designs solutions and lobbies politicians and government authorities, both in Sweden and internationally.
The organisation applies pressure to politicians, influence legislation, inform – including via their own magazines, books and press material – and organise seminars, debates and conferences. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has been Sweden’s most influential environmental organisation for decades and currently has around 221,000 members. Climate change, seas and fishing, forests, agriculture and environmental toxins are our priority areas of work, both nationally and globally.
In one hour, more than 10 billion emails are sent throughout the world, consuming the equivalent of 4 000 tons of oil. Swedish entrepreneurs found a way to reduce this energy consumption to zero.
In the city of Falun, Sweden, located about 200 km away from Stockholm, the company FaluEnergi & Vatten is building the first EcoData Center. This will be “the first positive energy datacenter on Earth” : the opening is scheduled for march 2016.
Mainly generated by coal-fired plants, the electricity used in datacenters has a considerable carbon footprint. According to experts, their total co2 emissions will exceed those from air transport in three years.
In winter, the heat excess generated by the servers will be used to heat the city of Falun and the datacenter, while in summer, the steam produced in the neighboring power plant will be reused for cooling purposes towards the ventilation machines of the center. The team will also develop a system of urban heat based on renewable energies (solar, wind, hydropower, and biofuels). Again, the energy excess from the heat of the datacenter will be used to heat apartments and houses in the city.
Sweden is setting out to prove that the world doesn’t need fossil fuels. In a recent announcement, the Swedish government said it will invest 4.5 billion kronor, or US$546 million, in their 2016 budget “to meet the challenges of climate change, increase the share of renewable energy and stimulate development of innovative environmental technology.”
“Sweden will become one of the first fossil-free welfare states in the world,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told the press. “When European regulations do not go far enough Sweden will lead the way.”
As broken down by Bloomberg, here’s how Sweden plans to completely abandon fossil fuels (no deadline has been set):
• 390 million kronor per year between 2017 and 2019 in photovoltaics, with a plan to spend 1.4 billion kronor in total
• 50 million kronor annually on electricity storage research
• 10 million kronor on smart grids
• 1 billion kronor to renovate residential buildings and make them more energy efficient
• Subsidies and investment in green transportation such as electric cars and buses
• Increase funding of climate-related projects in developing countries, raising its budget to 500 million kronor
The terms and conditions for supporting innovation vary greatly depending on their destination, their history and their role in the the financial and development plans of the project initiators. While these aids are now open to the social innovation sector, more and more funding mechanisms and supporting structures are developed to foster social innovation in Sweden.
Hjärna Hjärta Cash is an intense idea competition for teams of young leaders, whom during 48 amazingly exciting and challenging hours develop the sharpest society changing business ideas. As the Swedish name suggests, the challenge unites Brain (Hjärna), Heart (Hjärta) and Cash; a union of intelligent ideas, social responsibility and cash – everything you need to change the world!
The goal of the ideas that are developed is to generate more job opportunities for young people and to be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Through out the competition all the teams will be coached by experts from different fields such as business development, marketing, sustainability and digital media.
Leksell Social Ventures is Sweden’s first impact investment company, a private investment company wholly owned by the Leksell Family, financing ventures that combine business with measurable impact on social problems like integration and mental ill health. The company achieves this by lending to or investing in social enterprises looking to grow or develop their venture.
Impact invest Scandinavia
Impact Invest Scandinavia is the first impact investor network in the Nordics. They are an intermediary connecting companies with investors, funds and business angels. Companies they support have social and sustainable impact at the heart of their business idea, rather than just a positive side effect.
IIS provide a learning environment with peer-to-peer support, and they are part of a global network with global deals through their partner Toniic, an international network of impact investors.
Social Entrepreneurship Forum is a non-profit membership organization working to promote, inspire and empower social entrepreneurship. SE Forum was founded in 2004 and provides a variety of unique programs and services that aim to transform the norms around the way business is done and the private sector composition.
The Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Sweden stimulates and supports the development of social innovations, in order to contribute to the emergence of new companies and organizations that solve pressing social problems. CSES was initiated by the SU Incubator but is now run as a separate non-profit organization.
Forum for social innovation
In 2008 KK-stiftelsen initiated a research program focused on social entrepreneurship. A concrete out- come of this work was the establishment of Forum for Social Innovation (Mötesplats Social Innovation). Initiated as a collaboration between Malmö University and University of Mid-Sweden, since 2012 it is now run by Malmö University with the support of Region Skåne and the Ministry of Enterprise, Industry and Communications. Närings departementet has appointed the Forum for Social Innovation as a national knowledge and competence centre for social innovation and social entrepreneurship between 2012 and 2014.
Forum for Social Innovation Sweden (MSI) is a platform for academia, industry, government and non-profit organisations in Sweden who want to take part in the development of the fields of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.
The vision of Forum for social innovation (MSI) is to be a national knowledge hub for the development of social innovation and social entrepreneurship . Together with stake holders cross sectors they build capacity for innovation that meets societal challenges.
They actively monitor what is happening in the field, both in Sweden and internationally, to ensure that the knowledge and experience developed, is disseminated and put to use.
Countries of Southern Europe (Italy, Greece, and Spain) Respond differently to the arrival of refugees coming from the Mediterranean Sea. Whereas Italy offered asylum to more than 20,000 people last year, Greece and Spain are placing strict barriers to entry, offering asylum to only 3 850 people and 1 600 people, respectively.
These countries put forward they already invest a lot of ressources for saving migrants coming from the sea and to accomodate them. In August 2015, more than 350,000 people (both asylum seekers and economic exiles) crossed the Mediterranean Sea, among whom 2 643 died during their journey. According to the IOM (International Organization for Migration), more than 220,000 people arrived in Greece, and nearly 115,000 in Italy.
Sweden remains one favorite destination for refugees in proportion to its population of 9.6 million inhabitants. In Sweden, every refugee will be given an accomodation, in comparison to countries like France where refugees may sometimes have to wait for more than 3 or 4 months to be resettled. The Swedish State, through the Swedish Migration Board, is responsible for allocating proper accomodation, depending on availabilities. According to Eurostat, 81,000 people arrived in Sweden in 2014 – 62,700 in France and 202 600 in Germany ; half of them coming from Syria or Eritrea. Sweden is hence the first country of immigration among EU countries in proportion to its population (8,4 ‰ in Sweden, against 1 ‰ in France and in 2,5 ‰ in Germany).