…as seen by Egyptian entrepreneurs
In late September 2016, a delegation of Egyptian entrepreneurs, mentors and incubators visited Stockholm, Sweden to get a better understanding of the startup ecosystem and how the two countries can partner and benefit from the experience they possess.
The delegation included several enpact fellows: Ahmed Negm, co-founder of Raye7, Ali Zewail, co-founder of Chaino and Omar Moniem from Jereed. In addition, there was me representing enpact, several partners including RiseUp Summit and AUC V-Lab. As part of this delegation, we were accompanied by Mrs. Charlotta Sparre, the Swedish Ambassador in Egypt. Also, we were invited for a dinner with the Egyptian Ambassador in Sweden.
Here are some insights I got during this delegation visit and the meetings we had during the two days.
Educational institutions and universities lead the charge of innovation
Several initiatives and some of the major incubators and accelerators in Stockholm are affiliated with universities. Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship is founded by a consortium of five major Stockholm-based universities and aims to expose all university students to the multi-disciplinary approach of entrepreneurship. This includes weekly workshop, courses, and they even have their own co-working space called ‘Campus’. Another important player is THINGS – a 2000-square-meter co-working space located in KTH (Royal Academy of Technology) in the middle of Stockholm and focusing on Internet of Things, 3D Printing and Wearables. Entrepreneurs working in the field of ICT, Health, Media, and clean technologies can get support at STING incubator/accelerator. Even highly-specialized universities like Karolinska Institute (in life sciences) and KTH (in engineering) offer programs catering to innovation and entrepreneurship. This ensures that highly-technical talent can not only do research and work for corporates but start their own business.
Government & financial institutions “get” entrepreneurship
It is a pleasant change from Egypt & the Middle East to see that government and financial institutions understand the importance and appreciate entrepreneurship. However, Swedish startups still believe there is a way to go. They are working on “Swedish Startup Manifesto” to further improve the policies, financial support and entrepreneurial education across Sweden.
Swedish start-ups are mostly born global
Sweden is a relatively small market, 10 million people, for an ambitious startup. Even with access to Nordic & European markets, Swedish entrepreneurs look beyond that. Many Swedish startups are ‘born global’ meaning that they are addressing a global need and plan international activities early-on. Spotify & Skype are prominent examples in the tech sector.
Have a look at ‘Business Sweden’
Business Sweden is a government-affiliated organization that aims to facilitate business relations between Sweden and other countries. If you are looking to expand or move your business to Sweden, they would definitely give you a valuable insight. They have been extremely helpful to us!
Some organizations and individuals that welcomed us during our tour of the Stockholm startup ecosystem are definitely worth checking out (and much more of course).
Took notes and shared them with you Essam Sharaf, Community Coordinator Egypt, currently based in Stockholm. Some other organisations worth checking out are below.