Interview with Micael Nord
Business Director at Malmö City
Micael Nord studied Political Science at Göteborg and Lund Universities and English Language and Literature at London’s South Bank University before working in a variety of local and national government positions, including EU Secretary for the Swedish Parliament and Development Manager for Göteborg. He moved from his post as Deputy Director of Development in the Region of Skåne to become Business Director for Malmö in September 2019. He sees his latest role as that of a bridge or translator between the business sector and the municipality, helping them to communicate and work together productively and prioritise sustainability.
How do you collaborate with the VisitAarhus Convention Bureau in the development of Aarhus as a sustainable meetings destination?
You've previously stated that you would like your tenure as Business Director for Malmö to be characterised by an emphasis on bringing the various stakeholders within the Malmö business sector together. Could you describe some of the ways you hope to drive business community engagement?
Let me first state that Malmö is highly characterised by cooperation between different businesses as well as between the business and the public sector. Having worked in a couple of other cities, I feel the spirit of cooperation even more here in Malmö. However, I do believe we could do more when it comes to bringing different sectors closer together, fostering creativity and innovation. In the city administration, we could also be more innovative and seek solutions to our challenges with partners from other sectors. One example is that in Malmö, the creative and cultural industries are strong and growing, and maybe more of our social challenges in the city could be solved by closer cooperation and innovation with actors in the creative and cultural sphere.
Can you give us a few examples of companies that are driving innovation in Malmö?
Sure. IBM Client Innovation Centre is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM. IBM Client Innovation Centre acts as a start-up and has strong support and full backing from one of the world's largest IT companies, IBM. The Innovation Centre delivers the latest technical services to its customers, which are found in most industries. IBM Client Innovation Centre’s head office is located in Malmö.
Oatly is a company with a passion for making it easy for people to eat and drink so that they feel good while not having to worry about consuming the planet's resources. Oatly was founded in the 1990s after scientists at Lund University made the revolutionary discovery that natural enzymes can transform fibre-rich oats into nutritious liquid foods, perfectly adapted to humans. The method is patented and Oatly works with innovation-oriented, continuous development to improve the well-being of individuals and the entire planet with a product range that is based on oats. Oatly´s headquarters are in Malmö as well.
IKEA is a company with enormous resources. IKEA is far from a company that ‘only’ sells furniture in flat packages; it also invests heavily in innovation. Innovation and novel thinking are crucial to IKEA's development. IKEA conducts research and innovates in a variety of areas: logistics and transport, energy, food, materials, connectivity etc. A large part of IKEA's global operations are run from Malmö and many of their innovation projects are also led by the IKEA Group in Malmö.
What are some of the key challenges for scaling up investment into sustainable ventures and infrastructure?
The most important factor in being able to increase investments that lead to sustainability and infrastructure is the creation of innovative partnerships and a well-developed structure for collaboration between stakeholders in different areas, i.e. between the city administration and the business community, nationally and internationally. It is important that various investors build up expertise on sustainable investment. Long-term planning and profitability, where that is relevant, are important factors.
Sustainable property company Castellum have just announced they are moving ahead with plans to construct a 143 million Euro office building in Malmö's Nyhamnen district. What do you think this investment will bring to Malmö?
Castellum is one of the first companies to have projects in this new district in Malmö. Their level of sustainability in the project will be inspiring forthcoming projects to raise the already high environmental standards even higher, continuing to keep Malmö at the international forefront of sustainable city development.
With the next generation of healthy and attractive workspaces, the project also helps attract the right competencies, a crucial factor for companies today. Malmö already has the two first Well-certified properties in the Nordics. Castellum’s new office building will emphasise the city’s ambition to be a front-runner in offering great working environments where people’s long-term health and well-being are key.
The building will be the Nordic headquarters of E.ON, attracting international visitors who will contribute to the city’s economic sustainability. For a city the size of Malmö, visitors are an important part of the economy.
For many, the greatest strength of Malmö is its diversity and multiculturalism. How can the city continue to promote cultural and economic diversity, and what more can be done in your view?
Diversity and multiculturalism are a part of Malmö’s DNA and are of great value to the city’s future success, so it’s important to have a work method that includes the diversity the city has to offer in every area and aspect of the society. Working with true integration and not assimilation is therefore very important, focusing on making use of the range of different perspectives that come with diversity, and ensuring they are part of the city’s development. This applies to the trade and industry sectors as well as the public sector, and also the cultural identity of Malmö. This is an example of how a city can show respect for different cultural perspectives in a variety of contexts in order to prevent the feeling of monoculturalism in the city.
How important is the MICE industry for Malmö?
The MICE industry is very important for Malmö, with more than 1,000 meetings and events annually. It is not only vital because of the revenue generated for venues, hotels, restaurants and other service suppliers, but also because it’s a tool for improving innovative medical care, standards, attracting new talent and to offer lifelong learning opportunities for professionals through knowledge exchange.
Which main trends do you observe regarding the MICE industry and sustainability right now, and how is Malmö keeping abreast of the trends and needs of the sector?
Malmö is famous for its transformation from an industrial city to a green city of knowledge, as seen in flagship projects like the transition of the old shipyard area, Western Harbour, into a residential and office space area with renewable energy solutions, green roofs and carpools. The area still attracts tourists and study visits by professionals from all over the world. By 2030, Malmö will be supplied by 100% renewable energy.
The MICE industry in Malmö has adopted an approach that goes beyond just ‘going green’. Most venues and suppliers have, for example, eliminated plastic waste, created locally sourced menus, made sure to collaborate with local and ethical suppliers and worked hard to offer a variety of outdoor activities for participants.
Malmö is also an active member of the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index). The GDS-Index is the leading sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme for meetings and events destinations around the world. The mission of the programme is to engage, inspire and enable destinations to become more sustainable places in which to visit, meet and thrive.
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