What Makes Sweden “The Innovation Nation”?

Posted by Marianne Olsson 

The gig market was already booming in Sweden, and corona has increased the pace of change in an already mature freelance and gig marketplace. Sweden is also a global innovation leader, producing a disproportionate number of unicorn businesses including Skype, Spotify and SoundCloud: the 2020 Global Innovation Index placed Sweden second in the world. Since 2001 I have surveyed and identified major changes in the Swedish job market, and in this article I look at the factors that have enabled my country of just over 10 million people to achieve its global-leading status.

The gig economy is in many ways interconnected with entrepreneurship and innovation since it has become popular among startups to either finance their venture through their own consulting services or gig work, as well as utilize the flexible gig workforce to grow their young companies dynamically. In many economies, new generations joining the workforce are less inclined to seek traditional full time employment, and instead use gig work as a way to gain new experiences and build their work resume. In Sweden more than 70% of all companies are solo entrepreneurs, and evidence shows they are taking on multiple roles.

According to the AppJobs Institute’s recent research, 53% of Swedish gig workers in Stockholm work over 30 h/week, 41% between 10-30 h/week and 4% less than 10 h/week. This indicates that gig workers have several different gigs combined. Some roles are through online platforms, others include non-platform freelancing and consulting (remote or on site), and temporary work opportunities provided by staffing agencies.

All of this is positive since it spreads risk and creates a more flexible and sustainable lifestyle in terms of work life balance. The old separation between blue and white collar is also slowly being erased, with gig workers moving between different kinds of work to support themselves.