The Complete Lund Startup City Guide

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Sweden is without a doubt one of Europe's leading startup hotspots. In today's Startup City Guide we'll explore Lund – the cradle of entrepreneurship and innovation in southern Sweden.

Don’t miss the infographic on How To Start A Startup In Lund!

Both entrepreneurship and innovation are needed everywhere in society, nowadays. In order to handle today’s economic and social issues, there is a great need for people with knowledge that can create new ventures and manage change. But for those people, in other words, for entrepreneurs to exist, society and its mentality, norms, and culture must tally with their desire for change and success and therefore must allow businesses in various industries to be able to exist and grow unconditionally. Sweden is perceived in this respect, as a true leader of innovation, thanks to the welfare state as well as the strongly rooted belief in the power of the individual.

Within the beautiful region of Skåne in the south of Sweden, located only 16 kilometers away from Malmö, lies one of the oldest cities in the country, where history visibly blends with modern ideas and a well-known educational and research area. Considered as a safe city with around 90,000 inhabitants from whom the majority is students, Lund really impresses with its charm as a cobble-stoned university city, dominated by bicycles. With its famous university, named the best in Sweden last year, as well as being one of the top 100 universities globally, Lund has proven to be a city with high potential in terms of various industries: from creative industries and entrepreneurship, to IT, life science, media and journalism; visible in the combination of students, researchers and businesses from all around the world.

Along with Malmö, Lund is also one of the 4th most innovative regions in the whole world. The first research park of Sweden, Ideon Science Park as well as European Spallation Source (ESS) and Max IV Laboratory, two of the largest scientific research ventures in the country, are both located in the city center, prove the very concept of innovation that is spread all around Lund. The existing cooperations between various associations, novice or more experienced entrepreneurs and businesses create a flourishing, dynamic business environment, suitable for creating ideas from scratch and developing them into business opportunities and eventually real industries on the market.

Going South: Lund

Advantages of building a startup in Lund:

  • the existence of a strong cultural, scientific and educational center represented by Lund University
  • the close distance from other significant startup hubs in northern Europe e.g. Malmö and Copenhagen
  • advanced and developed tech skills
  • well prepared workforce, highly educated population, students from all over the world interested in innovative changes in technology, design, and engineering culture
  • an overall well cultivated entrepreneurial mindset, promoted by organizations that cooperate in their turn with government initiatives (e.g. Lund Municipality)
  • good infrastructure
  • good quality of life
  • existing investment capital; a large number of entrepreneurs willing to help the next generation through mentoring or angel investment
  • significant focus on gender equality (Sweden is an ideal place for female founders to start their company)
  • high productivity coupled with lowest working hours

Possible drawbacks to consider when founding a startup in Lund:

  • high housing costs
  • the overall difficulty in renting a space
  • the reduced reach of the market (only local, clear need to extend in the surrounding regions or other Scandinavian countries)
  • taxation (high taxes on employee stock – 68 %)
  • complicated bureaucratic system (difficulty in obtaining work permits, registration of the company/business)
  • unfriendly climate

Dive Into Lund’s Amazing Startup Community

The Complete Lund Startup City Guide

Regular Events & Meetups, Conferences:

  • Malmö Startups – an initiative to unite and enrich the startup scene in Malmö and the surrounding cities from southern Sweden. They mostly take charge with hosting interesting events, bring experienced speakers, give introductions for startups and organize monthly meet-ups.
  • Venture Lab –  in collaboration with Ideon Incubator – every other Tuesday afternoon they hold a Venture Cafe as well as mornings meetings at Pitchers corner’s, where the participants compete for giving the best pitch. The audience are the critics and the winner has the chance to win 1000 SEK.
  • The Internet of Things – held annually in September, it is a two-days conference aiming to present a clear picture of the technologic environment existing nowadays, from hardware, software to various innovations concerning design and health. The conference covers 20 sessions as well as full day workshops.
  • Oresund Startups – an online magazine, created on a voluntary basis, that displays news and happenings about startups in Malmö and collaborations with surrounding cities such as Copenhagen, Lund, Helsingborg and many others. The main aim is to create a more integrated and unified startup community as well as to improve collaboration among entrepreneurs and businesses.
  • The Hub – an open digital platform, which aims to offer visibility to startups, help them with recruitment, find investors, offer best practice tools. Moreover, they help by promoting jobs in startups, advertising various startups based on industry and region in Sweden and providing tools and templates to help startups evolve. Annually, they organize Sweden Demo Day, a well-known event for startups and investors who are active in the technologic domain.
  • Enterprise Europe Network – offers support and services to small and medium-size enterprises, free of charge. They can provide access to EU funding, help innovations reach the market as well offer advice regarding different legal issues.
  • Young Entrepreneurs of Sweden – an association that creates networks and support among talented young entrepreneurs. They also organize various meetings and events where entrepreneurs can get to know each other better and create worthwhile connections.
  • Startup Matcher – considered as the leading startup community in the north, the main purpose of the platform is to allow entrepreneurs to join a Nordic startup, get in touch with founders based on their skills, search for partners, developers or project managers and thus building a career in entrepreneurship. Startup Matcher has the ability not only to aid startups to ensure a constant flow of candidates but also to ensure a time-efficient application process and help shape the Nordic business landscape.

Where To Work From In Lund

The Complete Lund Startup City Guide

Educational Centres & Co-working Spaces:

  • Sten K. Johnson – Centre of Entrepreneurship –  Since Lund University is important to the whole Öresund region for its entrepreneurial and innovative opportunities and has a long tradition of investments within these fields as well as entrepreneurship courses and a program for both Bachelor and Master level, an educational center for research, the Sten K. Johnson Centre for Entrepreneurship, has also been built precisely for the purpose to strengthen research in new venture settings. Their research programs were supported through a fundraising campaign from Lund University as well as by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. In the spring of 2011, Sten K. Johnson made a donation of SEK 20 million to the entrepreneurship division at the School of Economics and Management. In 2013, Sten K. Johnson invested another SEK 20 million in the Centre.
  • Venture Lab – founded in 2001, Venture Lab is a Lund university platform for students who want to share and develop their entrepreneurial and innovative ideas. Their main aim is to help students, whatever their background and education, to find experienced discussion partners that will facilitate their business development and also encourage their creativity. They also offer the possibility of free office space in the incubator at the Ideon Agora building, where they offer room to about 20 different projects.

Incubators:

  • Ideon Innovation – business incubator in Lund, located in the middle of Ideon Science Park, a nurturing and appropriate environment for innovation, active since 2000. Offering team building, coaching, matchmaking, networking for different businesses and entrepreneurs and all necessary steps for business development, like pitch training, finance, marketing, hands-on sales, budget, sales coaching, it also covers 137 startups, 1700 job opportunities, and 500mln SEK in capital.
  • Ideon Science Park – the home of various industry clusters, supporting disruptive innovations on the market.
  • Ideon Open – a platform for dynamic entrepreneurs, who like to think out-of-the-box and bring innovation into scientific and technological fields.
  • The Creative Plot – an amazingly innovative and cultural space for young entrepreneurs and not only, an umbrella project covering multiple initiatives and incubators of ideas, with a focus on culture and arts. It provides an excellent space for various cultural projects and their calendar covers various types of events, ranging from debates and discussions about today’s challenges in the cultural sector, as well as presentations about creativity and innovations in the works of contemporary artists and entrepreneurs.

Accelerators:

  • Water Innovation Accelerator (WIN) – a pilot project of Ideon Open. Water Innovation Accelerator facilitates market access to innovative products and services, in a quick and effective way. Founded in January 2012, the WIN network now consists of both, small innovative companies as well as large corporations and other organizations such as universities and municipalities.
  • THINK – in Helsingborg in partnership with Ideon innovation in Lund – offers a 3 months accelerator program, as well as access to funding, mentoring, business coaching. THINK also helps early stage startups succeed globally through an international oriented program, free of charge.
  • LEAPFROGS – stands for an initiative from LU innovation system that gives students the opportunity to test their business ideas by providing financial support that enables them to work full time for 3 months. The main idea is to allow the projects to take a sufficient ‘long leap’, in which the students either build their business idea from scratch and make it work or conclude that the idea is not good enough to spend further time on. Leapfrogs does not offer business development support or coaching, they rely on existing organizations in the regional innovation system to provide this kind of support. Another aspect relevant here is that Leapfrogs provides financial support equivalent to CSN, namely around 30.000 SEK, a financial means called frog cheques.

Where To Finance Your Startup In Lund

Where To Finance Your Startup In Lund

Developing the chance to become an entrepreneur in Lund means that one will face possible challenges, especially financial ones that can be overcome with the right help from many experienced investors. In general it is preferable for entrepreneurs in Sweden to rely on their local environment as it is more probable that they will find a reliable public support platform there.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

  • Invest in Skane – a platform that helps with finding the right investment opportunity, new business partners or chances of business expansion of the business. It also promotes the internationalization of the region’s industry, great opportunities for networking and forming various contacts all around the world.
  • Fundedbyme – a crowdfunding platform connecting investors and entrepreneurs. Everyone can join and create a crowdfunding campaign and fund a company in three ways: through equity, loan or offer product or service in return. So far, more than 15 million Euros been provided to 424 companies and ongoing.
  • Kickstarter – another crowdfunding platform, launched in 2014.

Angel & Venture Capital Investors:

  • Malmö Startups –  a startup community that hosts events (e.g. Meet Malmö Startups) where startups get to present and meet different Angel Investors from the Öresund region with the opportunity for investment.
  • Connect Skåne – a suitable organization for companies who seek capital and investment as well as entrepreneurs that want to get in touch with others. You can find a large investor network of business angels, all experienced individuals from professional service firms.
  • Creandum – a network of entrepreneurs, tech companies, and enthusiasts, fund investors that have the main purpose of building companies from scratch. The fund initial investment goes from a hundred thousand Euros up to 10 million Euros over the cycle of one company. The team also contributes with expertise, an extensive network, advisory board, and office spaces.
  • Nordic Makers –  a platform where angels and investors leverage their expertise to help entrepreneurs in need build an enduring and flourishing company. Among the companies, they have built so far are Momondo, Podio, TAT, JustEat etc., investing in over 50 other companies so far.
  • ALMI – Sweden’s most active early stage venture capital firm, owned by the Swedish government, with offices in every part of Sweden, ALMI provides the first initial grant for any newly-found company or enterprise which does not need to be paid back, if the money is properly used and the business has long-term capital growth. Loans are designed mostly for businesses with smaller capital requirements or enterprises that find difficult to have access to necessary capital. Through the support of experienced investment managers, capital, and networks, they create opportunities for businesses to grow and compete in the global market. Their portfolio consists of 400 growth companies in various industries.
  • Vinnova – Sweden’s official innovation agency, based in Stockholm, built in 2001 and supported by the EU, Vinnova provides funding through a range of grants aimed at different industries. The agency also helps various businesses grow sustainably within institutions, university, companies, and startups, annually investing 2 billion SEK and acting as a contact agency for the EU framework program for research and innovation.
  • Industrifonden – Sweden’s official industry fund, investing mainly in smaller companies.
  • Venture Cup – one of the most famous business competitions in Sweden for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey. Apart from valuable feedback and the chance of being among the winning top 20 ideas and win 500,000 SEK (in the startup stage), the competition also grants media exposure. Venture Cup was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization at the initiative of McKinsey & Company in collaboration with Chalmers University, Gothenburg University, and Innovationsbron and is currently supported by all bigger universities in Sweden. Its main aim is to link people with ideas with experts in the field, promote the creation of new businesses and empower Sweden’s entrepreneurial environment. The organization takes pride in donating 1,3 million SEK to creative ideas with long-term sustainable growth every year.
  • Besides the official Business Angel networks, there are some Business Angels who invest their own private equity in different startups, depending on the industry (e.g. Hampus Jakobsson, Ludvig Linge, or Jan Erik Solem).

Where To Find Experts For Legal Or Bureaucratic Issues

The Complete Lund Startup City Guide

  • Swedish Chamber of Commerce – is responsible for Swedish and foreign companies. They provide support to foreign companies who would like to found a business or an enterprise in Sweden.
  • Företagarna – possibly Sweden’s biggest organization for companies, it helps companies and organizations to succeed and develop with the desired pace, offering advice on taxation and legislation.
  • Swedish Authorities – Bolagsverket, Skatteverket, Tillvaxtverket – the Swedish agency for economic and regional growth – all worth considering regarding the registration of a company or business in Sweden.
  • Verksamt – an online platform that stands for a collaboration among several Swedish government agencies with various useful sources of information and tools for entrepreneurs in Sweden.

With such an impressive range of conferences, events, and incubators, on the one hand, and business angels and investors, on the other hand, Lund is the place to be for any entrepreneur at the beginning of the road and afterward. The city thrives on entrepreneurial activity and various opportunities to learn from professionals and create or promote your own startup, as well as to contribute to technological and scientific innovation with impact in the whole country and globally.

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The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away!
And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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Photo Credit: Francois Polito