This week sees the gathering in remote northern Sweden of almost forty of the world’s true thought-leaders and great exponents of crowdsourcing and crowd innovation in both business and social enterprises. They will update delegates and share insights on their latest activities at a relatively intimate event that will provide numerous occasions for delegates, speakers and panellists to network. And there is plenty for Sweden itself to teach the world about collaboration and sustainability.
Why Sweden? Swedes have a head start in collaboration and sharing. The economist Lars Calmfors has examined what distinguishes Sweden, Norway,Denmark, Finland and Iceland from other countries around the world and found four of these five Nordic countries enjoy the highest levels of social trust in Europe. Trust opens the door wider to collaboration, and there are economic benefits. Christian Bjornskov at Aarhus University reviewed empirical studies and calculated that an increase of 10% in social trust can lead to 0.5% increase in a country’s economic growth. This higher trust level is known as The Nordic Gold.
The main topics of the five-day CSW Arctic // Europe 2018 conference are Finance, ICOs & Green Bonds, Energy & Sustainability, Innovation and CrowdGaming, Agriculture and Farming in the Sharing Economy, which overlap with three key areas where the Swedish Government has chosen to focus strategic investments in medicine and bioscience, technology, and climate.
Delegates will arrive in Luleå, a port city near the Arctic Circle on Sweden’s Baltic Sea coast and capital of the province of Norbotten, the northernmost province in Sweden that covers 25% of the country. It is a region experiencing economic transformation as a historical reliance on forestry and the heavy industry of iron ore mining and steel production gives way to a sustainable, digital future.
With a view to improved sustainability and climate control, planning and design is underway for a totally fossil-free steel plant in Luleå and a more highly automated mine to extract the iron ore deposits in the surrounding region of Norbotten. Luleå is also the site of Facebook’s first data storage centre outside the US, where three buildings each cover a massive 28,000 square metres – about the size of six football pitches.
Facebook’s biggest issue is to reduce temperatures as banks and banks of servers give off their heat. The company takes advantage of the naturally cool climate and pumps in freezing air; it uses a ready supply of sustainable electricity generated from renewable sources that was previously powering more numerous sawmills and steel mills; and there is a high level of digital know-how among a local workforce who studied at the Luleå University of Technology, an establishment with close links with the University of Texas.
Apple also supports the Norbotten economy. For 10 years it has used cardboard produced from sustainably-managed forests in northern Sweden for its product packaging. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook made his own visit to northern Sweden in October 2017.
After an opening evening on Day One and an enthralling conference agenda in Luleå on Days Two and Three, delegates will transfer soon after midday on Day Three to the more remote rural area around Vuollerim. Despite its remote landscape and challenging location with several months every year of a harsh winter climate, Vuollerim is home to 800 people, 60 businesses, 40 NGOs and 7 crowd-based companies!
Crowdsourcing and operating as a crowd community is vital for people here to not only prosper but simply survive. The crowd-based businesses include Hotel Vuollerim Lodge where all speakers and delegates will stay, which has around 150 co-owners and all profits are reinvested back into the village.
Day Four will continue with a packed agenda of speakers and panel sessions on appropriate themes of Sharing Economy, Job Creation and Rural Development.
While staying there, we hope delegates and speakers will recognise that residents of Vuollerim have a tradition of rolling up their sleeves and helping each other out, behaviour that many businesses and other organisations seek to emulate in a collaborative ethos and mind-set rather than as an actual physical requirement.
Day Five will provide rare, perhaps unique opportunities to experience the Arctic lifestyle with a teepee dinner, an Arctic-style sauna and expeditions to ride a sledge with dogs or meet with indigenous Sami people who manage the local herds of reindeer.
We look forward to welcoming all delegates, speakers and panellists to our conference this week in Swedish Lapland. Who knows, maybe the Northern Lights will make an appearance as well.