Sustainable city open to the world

October 24, 2019

Overlooking Kammarrätten i Göteborg (Administrative Court of Appeal) and Stora Teatern (Grand Theatre)

IMAGE: Per Pixel Petersson

Gothenburg, sitting on Sweden’s beautiful west coast, is the country’s second largest city and the largest non-capital in the Nordic countries. It’s a green, accessible city that’s flourishing, with a busy seaport and a vibrant culture.



Landvetter international airport is just 25 minutes away by shuttle bus, but in a city that’s sat at the top of the Global Destination Sustainability Index for three years in a row, it’s no surprise that there are greener ways to get here than by plane. Gothenburg’s busy seaport is the largest in Scandinavia—great for green travel and great for business. The Nils Ericssonterminalen bus station is serviced by long distance and express bus companies like Swebus and Vy bus4you, allowing you to travel easily from other major Scandinavian cities, and if you prefer the train, there are frequent services connecting Gothenburg’s central station to Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen.


Its top class accessibility and sustainability alone make Gothenburg a great place to invest and do business, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the city’s commitment to making a positive difference—and doing business the right way.


So what’s the secret of Gothenburg’s success?


Trick question. There’s not one secret, but two: collaboration and innovation.




The Gothic stone church-inspired Feskekörka fish market hall and Restaurant Gabriel

IMAGE: Anders Wester / Göteborg & Co

Collaboration and Innovation: Making ‘Sustainable’ Attainable


Sweden is ranked 1st out of 157 countries in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Index, and as we’ve already seen, the city itself is no slouch when picking up awards for sustainability.


Here, nearly every hotel has an environmental diploma or is in the process of certification. Environmental diplomas are compulsory in all restaurants that are part of the Taste of Gothenburg association, and meat served by the municipality must be organically farmed.


Around 65 percent of the city’s public transport runs on renewable energy and there are 1,000 “Styr & Ställ” city bikes to rent at 60 different locations, but green transport efforts don’t end there. Landvetter Airport has held the highest level of environmental accreditation (‘European Airport Carbon’) since 2011 and in the same year, the Port of Gothenburg received the Shipping Award for ‘Regional Environmental Protection Contribution’, as the first port in the world to provide onshore power to vessels at berth.



How Gothenburg's energy mix stacks up - best practice solutions have been developed to maximise the utilisation of primary and secondary energy resources

IMAGE: Göteborg & Co

The city has an extensive district heating system, measuring about 1,230 km in length, which heats 90 percent of the apartment buildings, some 12,000 houses and countless factories, offices, shops and public buildings. This enables the city to utilise a large amount of energy that would otherwise dissipate into the atmosphere or the sea, and around 70 percent is heat recovered from other activities, such as waste incineration and industrial processes. In fact, the heat from waste incineration alone supplies a third of the region’s district heating and approximately 5 percent of Gothenburg’s electricity. Even though the city incinerates more waste than before, emissions are very much decreasing.


In recent years, a district cooling network has also been developed for offices, hospitals, factories and other buildings. The technology is simple, quiet and resource-efficient, using recovered energy and the cold water of the river Göta Älv in Gothenburg.





The Älvsnabben ferry from Lilla Bommen to Klippan is covered by regular bus and tram tickets

IMAGE: Beatrice Törnros / Göteborg & Co

The Gothenburg Climate Partnership (GCP) is a long-term partnership between companies wanting to make a difference, the City of Gothenburg and the Gothenburg region. The partnership aims to actively reduce climate impact via measurable, robust projects. It gathers together the region's leading-edge environmental experts from business, academia and non-profit organisations and provides process management, communication, support and impact analysis. It benefits both the city and business: companies with a stronger sustainability profile have a stronger business and they gain access to the right stakeholders; and through collaboration, the city and businesses can achieve things they couldn’t do alone.


Companies can contact the Gothenburg Climate Partnership for help with challenges they have identified or assistance in maximising the climate benefits of their existing projects. Sometimes, a Gothenburg Climate Partnership project manager, via their network, identifies several companies facing the same or similar challenges and brings them together at a joint meeting. A project is then launched to meet that challenge, providing it imparts climate benefits and encompasses both public and private stakeholders. Ideally, the results should also be scalable or repeatable. Appropriate stakeholders are gathered together to work on the project and it’s then assessed and measured throughout its duration using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, an international, standardised method of measuring environmental impact.



Kayakers navigate the moat of the Drottningtorget square outside the Central Station

IMAGE: Anders Wester / Göteborg & Co

Another of the city’s sustainability initiatives is Green Gothenburg, whose mission is to market and display innovative green solutions from the region to the rest of the world. Each year, Green Gothenburg handles about 35-50 delegation groups per year (approx. 500-800 participants) from approximately 70 countries.


The solutions they promote are mainly focused on sustainable transport and energy. Some of the solutions demonstrated include last mile delivery systems, such as those employed by the company Velove, using Armadillo cargo bikes. With a width of only 86cm, these bikes can travel that last mile on bike paths, roads, cobblestoned streets and narrow pathways. Green Gothenburg has also matched delegations with Clean Motion’s award-winning Zbee, a lightweight electric tuk-tuk, with swappable batteries to increase its range, and Volvo innovations as part of their ElectriCity project, including hybrid buses with a recharge time of just 3-4 minutes; an autonomous, self-driving refuse truck; and soon they hope to be able to showcase the new all-electric Volvo Penta ferry, capable of longer multi-stop routes along the Göta River that runs through the city.


Energy innovations have included the FED (Fossil-free Energy Districts) project, aiming to decrease dependence on fossil fuel and develop a unique local marketplace for electricity, district heating and cooling, with the digital platform developed by Ericsson.



Overlooking the FED (Fossil Free Energy Districts) of Chalmers University

IMAGE: Götebors Stad

Green Gothenburg is also concerned with sustainable urban development and waste management. The RiverCity project is one of the largest urban development projects in Scandinavia and will see Gothenburg city centre double in size with 25,000 new apartments and 45,000 new workplaces. The aim is to create “an inclusive, green and dynamic inner city open to the world”, reducing and meeting transport needs, providing socially-mixed housing and renewable energy, and ensuring biodiversity. There’s the innovative HSB Living Lab, too, a living lab for research on sustainable living environment that integrates solutions in the real estate sector.


The autonomous waste truck isn’t the only great innovation in waste management. Renova, the company using that innovative waste truck, also runs a plant that’s a world leader in extracting maximum energy from each tonne of waste. Renova aims to reduce the amount of household waste by 30 per cent per person by 2030 compared with 2010 and its waste trucks run on methane-diesel, liquid biogas and rapeseed-based diesel. At the pioneering Alelyckan recycling park, waste is a dirty word; objects perceived as waste are received, repaired, processed and sold on site, while the Campus Lindholmen campus transport terminal has reduced emissions and tackled waste by using low-speed electric vehicles with specially-designed trailers to collect waste alongside transporting goods.




Trialling an electrically-assisted cargo bike during one of Green Gothenburg's study visits

IMAGE: Business Region Göteborg

Collaboration and Innovation: Doing Business the Right Way


Collaboration between trade, industry, academia, the municipality and an appetite for innovation are key factors in business here. Sweden has topped the European Innovation Scoreboard for the last three years, while the Gothenburg region beat 219 other regions to the top spot as an Innovation Leader.


The Gothenburg region hosts multiple ‘testbeds’ – a tool for collaboration and knowledge sharing that creates innovative and sustainable solutions. The Testbed Gothenburg Initiative was put in place to take advantage of this unique structure and take Gothenburg's unabated urban development boom to a whole new level of cooperation. Initiated by the City of Gothenburg through Business Region Göteborg, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University, it’s aim is to provide a clear strategy for innovation and collaboration, freeing up resources to proactively address tomorrow's challenges. It’s quite a unique strategic initiative that accelerates development and ensures mutual benefit for all stakeholders.



Kungsportsavenyen, colloquially known as Avenyn, is the main boulevard of Gothenburg

IMAGE: Dick Gillberg / Göteborg & Co

Your Place To Invest and Grow


Gothenburg is quite simply, right now, the place to be in business. In terms of patents per capita, it’s among the top 15 most inventive cities in the world and it was ranked 2nd in a list of 55 mid-sized cities for connectivity (European Cities of the Future, fDi, 2018).


Rapid digitalisation and sustainable construction are offering massive opportunities for new growth in the city, new start-ups are emerging constantly, and soon, just east of Gothenburg and close to the airport, a new sustainable town called Landvetter Södra with 10,000 homes will be built from the ground up.


High-functioning logistics and transport are already in place in Gothenburg, and it’s been ranked as Sweden’s number one logistics location by the industry magazine Intelligent Logistik for over a decade. However, €100 billion is being invested in properties and infrastructure between 2016 and 2035, with 105,000 homes and large volumes of commercial space due to be built. In the coming years, the city will have a new cable car system, a rail tunnel under central Gothenburg (West Link), a tunnel under the Göta River (Marieholm Tunnel), a new bridge in the city centre (Hising Bridge) and a new one million square metre logistics park directly beside the port.





Next generation truck trailers undergo testing at RISE (Research Institute of Sweden)

IMAGE: Göteborg & Co

32 per cent of Sweden's private sector R&D investments are made in the region, making it a leader in many sectors. For instance, Gothenburg is the automotive capital of Scandinavia and the home of Volvo; the entire vehicle value chain, unique test environments and world-class expertise can be found here. China’s Geely is developing a new 120,000 square metre innovation centre. MobilityXlab, overseen by Autoliv, Ericsson, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group, Zenuity and CEVT, is a platform offering start-ups and companies working space and direct contacts with the founding companies to jointly develop solutions for future transportation.


Life science is one of Gothenburg’s fastest growing sectors. Gothenburg’s the place where innovations such as mind-steered prosthetics, personalised implants and digital healthcare solutions are being developed, and where breakthroughs like this can be commercialised, thanks to the region’s business incubators and science parks. Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has opened up its Gothenburg research facilities to small, promising companies working in its networks and the region is home to northern Europe’s largest university hospital, where you’ll find a talented workforce. In the coming years, €300 million will be invested in Sahlgrenska Life, a unique clinical research environment, and €350 million will be invested in expanding the life science and health cluster in Mölndal, Gothenburg.

Älvsborgsbron (Älvsborg Bridge) connects the north and the south part of Gothenburg

IMAGE: Bengt Kjellin / Business Region Göteborg

The city’s strong ICT sector has cutting edge expertise in embedded systems, infrastructure and cloud, microwaves, mobile technologies, visualisation and gaming, and it’s also enabling the rapid growth in health tech. Sweden's vision is to lead the world in digitised healthcare and e-health solutions by 2025.


Gothenburg’s cleantech cluster is strongly linked to other industries such as energy efficiency, renewable fuels and renewable energy, electromobility, waste systems and air and water treatment. "Gothenburg's cleantech cluster works cross-cluster with the other strong clusters in the region, such as automotive, logistics, maritime, ICT, creative industries and others. Working cross-clustering for innovation development is a strength for our region," says Maria Strömberg - Director of Clusters & Innovation at Business Region Göteborg. The City of Gothenburg has long been at the forefront in setting environmental and climate requirements and this has driven the development in the cleantech cluster.




Overlooking Gothia Towers; the largest hotel in the Nordics

IMAGE: Skyflyers / Göteborg & Co

Helping You Build Your Business: Business Region Göteborg


Business Region Göteborg is a non-profit company, owned by the City of Gothenburg, that works to strengthen and develop trade and industry in the region. It’s responsible for business development in the City of Gothenburg and represents thirteen regional municipalities, supporting sustainable growth in several clusters and sectors to create greener solutions and growth.


If you are considering investing or expanding in the region, Business Region Göteborg can provide you with objective analyses of the business environment in the Gothenburg region and offer a custom-built growth programme. It can also give you access to specialists in various fields and valuable contacts to open the door to the right partnerships, collaborations, networks, testbeds and industry organisations, plus assisting you with recruitment.



A pristine emission-free Volvo electric bus on Route 55 driving through the Lindholmen Science Park

IMAGE: Göteborg & Co

With high quality universities and world-class companies on your doorstep, you’ll find Gothenburg’s workforce is more highly educated than the national average and this year, the Future Today Institute ranked Gothenburg 2nd in an index of the 50 World's smartest cities. It was also named as Sweden's best city and region for English proficiency in 2017 by Education First, making workers here a great asset to multinational companies, so you won’t be surprised to learn that every fifth employee in the region works for a foreign-owned company.


Corporate tax rates are competitive compared to other major European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, and here, companies are not taxed on interest income, share dividends and royalties. The corporate tax rate in Sweden was reduced to 21.4 percent as of 1 January 2019 and will be further reduced in the run-up to 2021. Small and new companies can benefit from lower corporate tax, and Sweden offers more than 80 tax agreements in addition to the low corporate tax rate.


With fantastic connections to the rest of the word, an unbeatable sustainability record, an impressive reputation for innovation and guaranteed support, Gothenburg really is the place to do business and investment. Be there, or get left behind…





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