Scandinavian Tech Scene: Trends & Opportunities in the IT Market

October 17th 2019
When conjuring up an image of a hub of modern technology, it’s hard not to picture Silicon Valley.

Bay Area pioneers like Google, Apple and Facebook have laid the foundation for many of the key pieces of technology used by billions on a daily basis — like smartphones, web browsers and social media — and built massive global industries revolving around those very products.

But technology isn’t an exclusively American affair. In fact, many of today’s leading technology and innovation companies are choosing to expand to other business environmentsScandinavia is at the heart of such a migration, grabbing the attention of startups and well-entrenched organisations alike. Increasingly, Scandinavian tech companies are finding themselves as some of the industry’s most innovative, forward-thinking businesses, offering popular and well-loved solutions at scale. Whether it’s fintech, gaming, streaming media or anything in between, Scandinavia is emerging as a global technology powerhouse showing no signs of slowing down.

Why Scandinavia?

Scandinavian countries consistently rank among the best countries in the world to do business.

Each of these countries, judged on more than 15 different factors including property rights, innovation and red tape, provides a business-friendly climate that encourages startup development and a supportive environment for innovation and business creation. Measured by venture capital investment, Nordic countries make up Europe’s fourth top-tier hub for investment behind only the UK, Germany and France, and these countries have Europe’s highest rate of investment per capita. 

Scandinavia led the world in the creation of many crucial Web 2.0 technologies, including MySQL, Linux, PHP, C++ and Ruby. In anticipation of Web 3.0 technologies, like artificial intelligence, cloud infrastructure and Internet-of-things devices, Scandinavia remains well-positioned to continue its leadership position fostering modern, forward-thinking platforms and products. 

In 2018, the Scandinavian tech sector received a huge infrastructure upgrade thanks to Amazon’s introduction of a new AWS Region in Stockholm, Sweden.  Easy access to low-latency, state-of-the-art data storage and cloud-based services made it significantly easier for tech companies to store sensitive in-country data and run workloads close to home. Tech companies in the region could now rely on localised versions of AWS’s powerful web solutions, making it easier than ever before to build, host and manage new applications and businesses that take advantage of the modern web. 

Who’s Who in Scandinavia

Today’s Scandinavian technology market is incredibly diverse, with a wide range of startups offering unique hardware and software products. Here are just a few of the startups from the region, many of which have become household names of their own:

  • Spotify, the Stockholm-based world leader in streaming music.
  • Jabra, the Copenhagen-based audio hardware company focused on consumer and professional headsets, speakerphones and accessories. 
  • Salecto Aps, Danish e-commerce and web development firm
  • Betsson Group, a Sweden-based international online gambling platform.
  • SoundCloud, the shareable social music platform.
  • Rovio Entertainment, creator of the popular Angry Birds game series.
  • Shape Robotics, an educational robotics company behind the modular Fable robot that teaches students 21st-century STEM skills. 
  • Tobii, the world leader in eye-tracking technology for gaming, scientific research, virtual reality and more.

That’s not to mention the sheer volume of other global corporations who call Scandinavia home. Sweden alone hosts lock manufacturer Assa Abloy, telecommunications giant Ericsson, clothing phenom H&M and do-it-yourself furniture magnate IKEA. While each of these companies has roots in vastly different industries, they’re all able to take full advantage of the modern supply chain and digital solutions the Scandinavian tech sector offers, extending the global reach and influence of each individual company. 

The Demand for Digital Talent in Scandinavia

Demand for technology professionals in the Scandinavian sector is rapidly outpacing supply, with countries like Denmark predicting a long-term shortage of IT professionals through the next several decades. Becoming a victim of its own success, many Scandinavian nations are turning toward outsourced IT solutions to meet the ever-growing demand for talented developers. 

One study on Nordic IT outsourcing found more than 75% of responding tech companies plan to continue using outsourced resources, with 44% preparing for an increased capacity of outsourced labour. Many organisations find incredible value in IT outsourcing due to the high level of technical proficiency offered through outsourced providers. Scandinavia’s geographic proximity to other European nations also means that nearby outsourced labour may only be a single time zone away, making the notion of an extended team far more convenient than one halfway across the world.

The Future of Scandinavia’s Tech Sector

The sheer level of investment, global attention and tech talent found in Scandinavia illustrates the strength of the region’s future. It’s not just the promise of a more simple and transparent code: It’s an emphasis on quality-of-life through a more flexible, humane work culture. Unlike the United States, Nordic countries offer generous benefits like universal healthcare and paid parental leave, creating a more attractive environment for companies and foreign nationals to establish new operations. Unsurprisingly, Scandinavian countries are consistently ranked among the happiest nations in the world. 

Considering much of tomorrow’s technology will be powered by many of today’s underlying platforms, like Linux and MySQL, Scandinavia is well-positioned to continue pushing its own creations forward while blazing a trail that’s more connected, intelligent and forward-thinking than ever before.

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