Stockholm Chamber of Commerce - India-Nordic Conclave on Smart Cities

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India-Nordic Conclave on Smart Cities

Publicerad 7 march 2017 09:26 Uppdaterad 7 march 2017 09:27
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I will talk briefly about the role of cities in the global economy and I will also take the opportunity to say a few words about Stockholm, my hometown. Not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also the fastest growing capital in Europe and a world leading hub for tech startups and innovation. A smart city broadly speaking. Our digital infrastructure is excellent for example- broadband speed is among the fastest in the world - we had the first 4G net in commercial use - and that is of course one important aspect of a smart city. But the infrastructure alone doesn't make the city smart. The people and how they use the infrastructure and other assets do.

No smart cities without smart citizens.

Stockholm is the leading hub for business in the Nordics. We are home to most unicorns - billion dollar startups - per capita after Silicon Valley, computer programmer is the single most common profession in all of the Stockholm county. A fun fact is that the average labor migrant to Stockholm is a computer engineer from India. But above all Stockholm offers a very high quality of life.

It is green, clean and cool.

I got the question last night "Why is it that you are so innovative? You are even home to the Nobel prize..."

Yes, we do come out very well in a number of global innovation rankings. That doesn't mean we are perfect - we are not - but I do believe we have got a few things right. There is more than one explanation of course. Some people seriously believe we have so many talented computer programmers because of the cold and dark winters - you know, there is nothing else to do than sit inside in front of the computer....Somewhat more conventional explanations may include access to education, stable democratic institutions, a generally good business climate, a long and strong industrial tradition with companies such as Ericsson, Electrolux, ABB, Atlas Copco, SKF, Scania, Volvo, SAAB and many more which have contributed a lot to Sweden's economic development and not the least large investments in R'n'D. Many of these companies are also offering solutions for smarter and more livable cities. Another important factor, and one that I want to emphasize today, is our openness to the world. We are free traders. There aren't really any options to trade when the size of your home market is about half the size of Delhi's. We have to be open and that has over time proved to be beneficial on multiple levels. In addition to the direct economic effects, it has helped us in adopting new ideas and getting new influences. Trade and global connections spur innovation. And so does urbanization.

Urbanization is together with globalization and digitalization one of the strongest economic forces in today's world. Dense cities are more innovative per capita than more sparsely populated geographies. In order to move up the income ladder a country needs to have growing and prosperous cities. So smart cities are tools in fighting poverty. Smart cities can also be energy efficient and safe. Look at the Nordic cities! Cities need appropriate planning, modern infrastructure and good governance in order to be smart and globally connected. Here in India the forecast is that 49 cities with a million plus population together will account for one third of the country's GDP next year, but all together only 15 percent of India's population. These cities are the growth engine of India. We see exactly the same patterns in other places. Looking at the global economy as little as 600 cities or metropolitan regions contribute to 60 percent of global economic output. We are definitely living in a metropolitan era.

Smart cities are both about competition and collaboration, but most of all it is about connectivity. Smart cities are not only agglomerations of people, but rather agglomerations of people's connections.

I learnt a word in Hindi the other day: Sambandh or samband in Swedish. Sambandh means relation, connection or bond. And that is in essence what smart cities are all about.

Maria Rankka, CEO, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce

India-Nordic Conclave on Smart Cities, New Delhi, 7 March 2017