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European Innovation Council

Linköping (Sweden)

The European Rising Innovative city - winner: Linköping (Sweden)

Areral of Linköping taken just at sunrise, the right part of the image still in the dark, the left part redish with rising sun.

A city where the future is ever-present

With one eye on the future, Linköping is at an exciting stage of history, where so many positive factors have converged to foster the opportunity for unprecedented growth and with it, an unwavering faith in the future. Linköping is Sweden’s fifth largest city and is growing rapidly. With its prime location in the south east, 80 % of Sweden's Limited companies can be reached effectively within a manageable 300 km radius. Knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit and ground-breaking innovation have been the hallmarks of Linköping's history since the 12th century. Back in the 1960s, the foundation was laid for what is today Linköping University. Their vision – With the courage to think freely and innovate – indicates that they take on the challenges of today. Innovation is Linköping University’s only tradition.

Societal challenges requires new solutions and a new way of thinking

Just like many other cities, Linköping faces a number of societal challenges. To name a few; In the coming decades, demographic changes and the number of people in need of welfare services is expected to increase faster than the population in working age. At the same time, Linköping is a city with significant social contrasts, where they have districts that have a high proportion of residents with lower socio-economic status. The East Link high-speed rail project will be built through Linköping and completely reshape the urban landscape of the city center, and the city is therefore facing one of the biggest changes in its history. In Linköping they are meeting these challenges by courage and innovative thinking in a close collaboration between the public sector, academia, the business community and civil society.

The world's most resource-efficient region

In Linköping they are building the innovative, sustainable and smart city of the future. Vallastaden and Ebbepark are two recently developed districts that have taught us a lot about how to expand and improve their city with bold new solutions for mobility, energy, waste and diversity. The City of Linköping strives to be a leader in climate change solutions. Already in 2012, the Municipal Council adopted the goal that the municipality will be carbon neutral by 2025. Now they're shifting gears with the long-term goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, which includes all greenhouse gases. Tekniska verken is a municipally-owned company specialising in providing various essential services such as energy, water, waste management, and district heating - and has developed one of the world's most resource-efficient energy systems. This system relies on resources that would otherwise be lost, thus turning waste into an asset. To accelerate the green transition, they work on both a systemic level and an individual level.

Ground-breaking innovations and a well-developed ecosystem for innovation

The municipally owned Linköping Science Park is one of the first two Science Parks in Sweden, established in 1984. Since that time, Linköping Science Park has grown into a world-class innovation hotspot closely connected to Linköping University and the companies of the city. Today, it is home to more than 600 companies, 14,000 employees and 38 000 students, and continues to grow - in fact the tech companies grow stronger in Linköping than in any other comparable city.

Together with LEAD business incubator, Linköping Science Park offers a unique platform for business development programmes and networks and serves as a hub for research, innovation and commercialisation, where companies and talented minds come together. The main role of the city in the innovation support system is to enable innovation and development by providing long-term financing for the basic infrastructure. Here, basic infrastructure refers to support for commercialisation, growth, development and transition.

Linköping’s business community, public institutions, and Linköping university, have a long history of innovative thinking, which has created a distinct and dynamic culture. And that's why so many groundbreaking innovations are born in Linköping.

Collaboration is in Linköping's DNA

In Linköping, they have built platforms, Challenge-driven Ecosystems, to meet prioritised societal challenges. What these ecosystems have in common is that they focus on an identified challenge and are based on cooperation between multiple actors across several different sectors. In order for Linköping to increase the pace of the transition to a greener, digital, more equitable future, everyone must be on board. In order to manage such a monumental change, they tap into established collaborations and form new collaborations between civil society, citizens, the business community, policy makers and civil servants. To highlight a few examples of how this comes into play:

Linköping participates in the national project Climate Neutral Cities run by the strategic innovation program Viable Cities. Through Viable Cities Linköping has a platform to team up with 22 other cities in Sweden. Another example is the Linköping initiative, a local network of private and public actors working together to achieve a carbon neutral Linköping. The network currently consists of 18 members, of which 16 are private companies with a significant environmental impact. As Linköping continues to grow and conditions change, the characteristics of the city center will also need to change. In order to respond to new conditions in a dynamic environment, Linköping has created the platform The City Center of the Future - Framtidens Stadskärna. This platform is based on a joint letter of intent signed by 30 key stakeholders.

Where ideas come to life

Since 2001, the municipality has carried out its work according to the promise that Linköping is a place “where ideas come to life”, which means that we strive to create environments where people can thrive, grow and bring their ideas to life. In order to fulfill this promise, they must all work together towards a common goal. To highlight a few examples:

Testbed Ebbepark is a unique and open testbed in the Ebbepark district of Linköping that provides developers, innovators and companies with an opportunity to test their products and services in full scale. To accelerate the transition to sustainable development in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the City of Linköping is offering small and medium-sized companies the opportunity to apply for testbed vouchers.

At the same time they are moving from a pilot project, which focused on testing and developing safety-enhancing technology in elderly care homes, to a widespread implementation of digital, need-based supervision across all elderly care homes in Linköping. It will enable the care staff to rapidly detect when someone requires assistance and there's no need to disturb the elderly who are sleeping. Through the long-term initiative Startup Time, they also make it possible for more people born outside Sweden to start viable businesses. And through the R&D Centre for healthcare, social care, and social work, they provide a multi-city platform for research, development, and learning, serving not only the City of Linköping but also other cities in our region.

They strive to continue to grow together because in Linköping, they firmly believe that a city where residents can grow and thrive is also a city where ideas come to life. And that's indeed a city where the future is ever present.