Info Tech: Sweden's Secret Weapon
"Busting up Sweden Inc." (European Cover Story, Feb. 22), fails to focus on what is keeping Sweden a strong global competitor: its rapidly maturing high-technology industry. Sweden has made substantial progress in switching from a traditional industrial society to an information-driven economy. While it is true that Sweden is struggling to retain multinational companies inside its borders, it is not alone in this effort. Even the U.S. has seen some of its largest corporations shift operations abroad to slash costs. What is unusual about Sweden is that it's already fostering new growth of the world's foremost information technology (IT), telecom, Internet, and new-media businesses.
An example is the existence of Stokab, Stockholm's advanced optical-fiber network. Because of Stokab, MCI WorldCom Inc. elected to locate in Sweden to expand its banking and financial services. MCI WorldCom was able to connect to Stockholm's Stokab network without spending billions of dollars to build its own fiber-optic infrastructure, as the company was forced to do in London, Frankfurt, and Paris.
Sweden's IT expertise also caught the attention of high-tech companies such as Razorfish Inc. of the U.S., which merged with Sweden's Spray Network in 1998 to create the world's first global digital network. Spray Razorfish will be able to service clients around the world.
Given Sweden's ability to route Europe's Internet traffic around the globe and a rapid growth of Internet service providers, many new companies and corporate partners now use Sweden as an IT hub. With over 21,000 IT companies, Sweden is one of the fastest-growing IT markets in Europe, ranking only second to the U.S. worldwide.
Swedish Trade Council