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Creative, innovative Berlin

During three intense days in the end of January and beginning of February, some 40 delegates visited Berlin for the biannual international study mission by The Council for the Stockholm Mälar Region (Mälardalsrådet). The aim of the delegation was to "approach different angles of sustainable competitiveness with a special focus on how collaboration leads to strong competitive regions". Ylva Williams, CEO of Stockholm Science City was one of the delegates.

Ylva, tell us about Berlin as a creative, innovative region!
Berlin is known as the start-up factory of Europe, or at least, that's how they want to be perceived, and if you take a look at the number of unicorns that has emanated from Berlin, the region really does stick out.

What was the focus areas of the study visit?
The objectives were to study and learn from other internationally competitive regions, to understand their role in a globalized economy. In Berlin, we focused on five areas: Creative Berlin; Labour market and integration; Talent attraction and relations; Knowledge-intensive Berlin and Sustainable mobility.

From an innovation point of view, what are the differences between Stockholm and Berlin?
Life is a little easier in Berlin, access to housing is easier, regulations for labour market are not as strict as in Sweden thus the threshold for moving or changing jobs is not as high and there are still plenty of centrally located facilities for companies.

Having said that however, I think Berlin will become more like Stockholm in a couple of years. Also in Berlin gentrification spreads as housing becomes more expensive. In a few years we will see another European city taking Berlins role.

Any specific take-homes from Berlin?
Berlin has a unique history and thus unique conditions. Based on that, they have created an environment which is inspiring and also taken a position in Europe which is actually quite right in terms of what they can deliver.

I was impressed by Factory Berlin, a place we would call co-workingspace in Sweden although Germans would not use that term. It is a community for innovation, a place where people can work and connect and where companies and ideas can grow. Soundcloud for example - a Swedish idea, with Swedish founders - moved to Berlin and started their business at Factory Berlin. To me, that says a lot about the allowing atmosphere in Berlin.

Further reading:

SSCi has written a report with information about the Stockholm based co-workingspaces >>

Check out this Berlin pitch by Christoph Sollich - aka the pitch doctor >>


Ylva Williams
CEO, Stockholm Science City