Västerbotten Investment Agency

Christmas Greetings from Västerbotten Investment Agency

karolinaWritten december 20th, 2013 by karolina

We want to thank all of you for 2013 and at the same time say that we look forward to a new year of exciting projects in 2014. No one will be present in our offices in Umeå and Skellefteå over the holiday season but you can find us there again January the 7th. Merry Christmas to you all!

Regional Tourism: Small is the new Big

SantoshWritten december 16th, 2013 by Santosh

In Tourism, experience is everything! Fishing under the midnight sun. Ammarnäs Fishing centre is approved by Nature’s Best as an ecotourism operator. (Staffan Widstrand/imagebank.sweden.se)

Destination Västerbotten:

The tourism business in Vasterbotten province comprises a number of small enterprises that can be classified as SMEs – micro, small and medium-sized. They own and run a range of businesses including B &Bs, hunting and fishing trips, dog sledding excursions, and adventure tourism among many, many other unique and attractive tourism-related activities.

It is these small companies that drive the tourism activities in the region and are the lifeline for the tourism industry. Tourism statistics published by Tillvaxtverket – the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth – showed that Västerbotten was the fastest growing region in Sweden 2011. So, these SMEs must be doing something right for Vasterbotten!

The growth trend in tourism has continued for Sweden as a whole too. The latest statistics show increased numbers in overnight stays in the summer of 2013, and almost all regions of the country reflected and increase an income from accommodation in hotels, hostels and holiday villages.*

With a service-minded culture characterized by courtesy, amazing outdoors and growing numbers of international and domestic tourists, Vasterbotten offers local, regional and foreign investors several market opportunities. These could include high-quality accommodation hotels and lodges, ski resort development with après ski services, hunting and fishing lodges or a travel agencies/tour operators offer extreme adventure in the gorgeous outdoors bordering Swedish Lapland.

 SMEs role in the tourism industry:

SMEs and their role in the tourism industry are not unique to Vasterbotten or Sweden for that matter! From Australia to South America and several countries in between, it is proven and well documented that they play a key role in tourism development. SMEs offer customers value for money and a level of service that makes their experience memorable and unique. I daresay it is their steadfast belief in the destination and what it can offer tourists that make these family owned enterprises successful.

It is these very SMEs that will benefit from help and assistance from the national and regional tourism organizations/boards in terms of destination marketing and facilitation.  It should be the responsibility of the tourism bodies to brand and promote the region aggressively and create partnerships for joint events; platforms for investment, cooperative marketing, advertising/social media campaigns and PR efforts while allowing the SMEs to focus on delivering quality and unique experiences to both domestic and international tourists.

Having said that, do all SMEs need such support from tourism promotion agencies? Not necessarily, studies have shown that SMEs that have international customers seek more destination marketing and facilitation support. Also, the micro-SMEs who engage in tourism related activities more to sustain their own life-style rather than to actually promote the tourism industry, do not seek such support.

Another key factor for growth and success is the availability of funds. Tourism Investment Funds are available to such SMEs. However, this is a topic for a whole new Blog!

Now, when I think of ‘small’ enterprises, I cannot but help quote from Seth Godin’s Book ‘Small is the new Big.’ This is what he says in one his chapters:


  • Small is the new big because small gives you the flexibility to change your business model when competition changes theirs
  • Small means the founder is involved in a far greater percentage of customer interactions – s/he can greet you by name and answer your email!
  • Small means the founder is close to decisions that matter and can make them quickly
  • Small means they are more nimble and agile, and most importantly,
  • Small means they can focus on delivering better customer experience.


Tourism is all about experiences. So, the better the customer experiences the more new (through word of mouth) and repeats customers. Seth Godin also says that “Small is the new big, only when the owners and their staff think big!”

In conclusion, SMEs need to plan big, strategize big, embrace new media and new technologies big and they need to believe in themselves big!

Guess what? This could mean the re-invention of Tourism Promotion organizations at the regional and national level and what their real role should be!


For more information on investment opportunities and/or information on this sector in Västerbotten, visit http://viavasterbotten.se


Santosh Hejmadi

*Source: Tillväxtverket Tourism Reports

Company of the Month: Rail Test Nordic

karolinaWritten november 29th, 2013 by karolina

Northern Sweden is strong in automotive winter testing and there is a great knowledge and experience from this area in the region. The testing operations within the region are now starting to comprise other vehicles, such as aircraft and railbound traffic, as the region holds perfect conditions for testing these vehicles too. Rail Test Nordic is this month’s Company of the month, building up a unique testing facility that catches the attention of several global train manufacturers.

Problems with trains being delayed due to consequences of weather and a need from buyers and operators for verification and certification of trains, in combination with the existence of a closed down cross- country rail line, brought the idea of a full scale test facility in the northern parts of Sweden. Located between the towns Arvidsjaur and Jörn, in a region where most of the large car manufacturers do their winter testing, the facility is now starting to take shape.

Rail Test Nordic developes a facility that is to become a complete real world test facility for different forms of railway equipment, trains and technical development of track, infrastructure and high voltage equipment. The track can be sectioned- off from other traffic and will be used exclusively as a test track. A length of 75 km one way, with loops at both ends and a 32 km high- speed section makes testing efficient.

Rail Test Nordic is now persuing a pre- study together with Bombardier to set the conditions right for the facility. When the study is done, the company will move from the strategic phase to become a sharp executing operation, constructing and running the unique test activity facility.

What makes Västerbotten and North Sweden a good place to run your company?

The conditions of climate, knowledge and infrastructure that exists here. When you have a good product or service a location in the northern parts of Sweden does not matter for customers in for example south of Europe. The location is actually what makes Rail Test Nordic a great success.

What makes your company’s product or services unique?

The facility doesn’t exist elsewhere, it will be totally unique and fully adapted to meet the needs of the industry. Again, the conditions in the region, with climate, knowledge and a 75 km long track without other traffic makes the testing facility one of a kind.

What is the vision of your company? Where are you in five years time?

The goal is that the facility will be up and running by 2017. The prestudy, being done in cooperation with Bombardier, will be finished in February 2014. After that, additional steps of financing and construction completion will start. In five years time from now, Rail Test Nordic’s operations will comprise between 40 and 50 full time employees. The company will have an estimated turn- over of 50 to 100 million SEK annually. And probably- the facility will be hosting some of the world’s leading train manufacturers.

In addition, Rail Test Nordic have an intention of creating not only a fully equipped test facility for railbound traffic, but to accomplish a complete competence center in the area of rail bound vehicles climate testing.

For more information, please visit:


Or contact:

Lars-Åke Tjernström, CEO Rail Test Nordic
Phone: +46 70-651 94 06
E-mail: larsa@mclead.se

Company of the Month: Resize Design

karolinaWritten oktober 3rd, 2013 by karolina

This months company that we wish to highlight is a good example of a company here in the North that one could say represent two of the business sectors where the region is especially strong. That is both the creative industry and the wood sector. Resize Design will be one of the companies accomponing VIA to Oslo 16th- 20th October to exhibit in the Northern Sweden pavilion. Presenting Resize Design!

Resize Design is a young company,  founded in 2010 by Viktor Lindbäck. Later, Madeleine Stenslid joined the company as a partner and Communications Strategist. Three years later there are four people on board and the company is starting to aim for not only Europe as market, but also the States and the rest of the world. Resize Design works to deliver unique urban design that combines quality, durability and an environmental friendly thinking. The furniture is unique, flexible, and the first collection, named Stockhom Line, leaves no marks when being removed. Resize Design’s products are produced in Northern Sweden by local carpentry companies such as Snickericentralen.

What makes Västerbotten and North Sweden a good place to run your company?

”I would describe Northern Sweden as a place where people are dedicated their work. There is a large will of cooperation and finding good solutions for problems is a central part of the way to work. It’s straight forward to connect people and companies to each other, making it easier to make decisions and develop the business. Since the business society in the North is made up of many smaller companies I find that working here is more agile. It is easier to create customized solutions and thus create even better products for the customers.”

What makes your company’s product or services unique?

”The uniqueness of our products include the design and shaping. We produce airy shelves that are easy to adapt to different needs and wishes. Our products are also an exciting mix of different materials, thanks to our skilled subcontractors in Northern Sweden.”

What is the vision of your company? Where are you in five years time?

Resize Design hope to be working even more globally in five years time. The product line will have increased with more products with the same smart concept. The vision is also to maintain the production of Resize Design’s unique products in the Northern parts of Sweden.

For more information, please visit Resize Design’s webpage:

Or contact:
Viktor Lindbäck, CEO & Design Manager
Phone: +4670 207 48 28
E-mail: viktor.lindback@resizedesign.se

Why are there so many successful Swedish gaming companies?

karolinaWritten september 26th, 2013 by karolina

I found this really interesting article about Swedish gaming companies on swedishstartupspace.com that I wanted to share. It says something about the creative culture that exists in Sweden. It’s written by Karsten Deppert. Here we go:

Some time ago the Swedish gaming news site FragZone had a interesting article (in Swedish) stating that Sweden might be the best country in the world at creating games. This was interesting, and we decided to delve deeper into this theory and find out why Swedish gaming startups are so successful.

What is remarkable about gaming in Sweden?

Actually, Sweden is so good at games that it’s almost ridiculous. Lets start with one thing: upcoming blockbusters in the video gaming sector:

Blockbusters in the making

As the FragZone article noted, if you look at the blockbusters from E3 you will notice that a lot of them will be produced in Sweden.

Hideo Kojima tweeted at E3, in a little shaky English: “Question: Battlefield , The Division and Mad Max. What these title have common?” to which Christofer Sundberg , studio manager at Avalance  replied: “Sweden rules E3 2013“.

Just look at the games that are made in Sweden:

  • EA owned Dice develops Battlefield 4. Battlefield 3 was a huge success and sold in 17 million copies.
  • It was also announced at E3  that Dice would get the honor of making Star Wars: Battlefront, and that Mirror’s Edge 2 is already in production,
  • Ghost, a EA studio based in Gothenburg, is developing the next Need For Speed: Rivals and all these games are made on Frostbite – a game engine that was created on Dice for the Bad Company games and now is the engine for virtually all EA games except sports games.

But it is not just EA studios:

  • Ubisoft’s next great game, the MMO shooter Tom Clancy ‘s The Division, will be made by their Malmö based studio Massive Entertainment. After five years of development in secret – and no rumors leaking – the studio stepped into the limelight with a completely new game and to purchase a new IP.
  • Sony’s next big bet, Mad Max, is developed by Avalanche, also a Swedish studio. This game is a more uncertain bet, but the Mad Max IP is very interesting and has a lot of dedicated fans.

Minecraft – an indie that is bigger than anything else

Besides those blockbusters hits that are produced in Sweden, we also have the, by now quite famous, Notch and his Minecraft. A company that did an impressive 1,5 billion SEK (230 million dollars)  in revenue last year, with an amazing 39,30% margin. It is now the  game company with the biggest profit margins in Sweden, and its turnover is 3 times that of the second biggest company in sweden.

Social gaming: the giant king.com

It is not just in games on consoles and the PC that Sweden make well. A game-giant that is still not so well known is King.com, behind the hit Candy Crush Saga as well as other social games. The company is now said to have surpassed Zynga in size, and is making its presence felt in the social gaming sector.

Up and Comers:

Arcadelia, Imagination Studios and Hansoft are just a number of smaller companies running profitablne studios by acting as subcontractors for larger companies.

And not to forget – events like Dreamhack

Everything written above is about creating games, but Sweden is also the home of Dreamhack, which besides being the biggest LAN party in the world is also one of the big players when it comes to e-sports. The Dreamhack tournaments have evolved from once a year to a series that is almost bi-monthly, with the prize money increasing each year.


So there seems to be something in the water when it comes to Sweden and gaming – but why?  We have no proof, but these might be some of the factors contributing:

“A computer in every home”

In the 1990′s, the Swedish government subsidized the cost of computers for every family, allowing any Swedish family to buy a personal computer. This must’ve had a great impact – allowing a generation of Swedish kids to mess around with computers, coding and technology.

Broadband for everybody

The government was also good at bringing out internet access to a lot of the households. By the year 2000, more or less every home and school had access to a quality network.

Cold winters

Not a proven fact, but the cold and dark winters are not exactly encouraging for being outside, something that makes playing games or making games an more attractive alternative.

Management culture

Martin Walfisz, founder of Massive Entertainment and now founder of Planeto, said during an interview I did with for Øresund Startup News:

”I think the Nordics are really good at games because of our consensus driven management style. Creating games is all about getting very creative artists to work with some of the best techies, something that I think requires a work-place culture where you have respect for one-another. Something we in the Nordics are very good at.”

I think all of these are definitely factors that have contributed to Swedens rise as a gaming country. What will be interesting to see now, is what will happen in the next 5-10 years…

Text by: Karsten Deppert

(Source: http://swedishstartupspace.com)

Summer wishes!

karolinaWritten juli 5th, 2013 by karolina

It’s summer time and many people in Sweden are enjoying their vacation. VIA is operating as usual, with an exception of July 22- 26th. No one will be present at our offices in Skellefteå and Umeå these days, but our services are always available. For questions and other matters during these days please contact Anders Wangby, anders.wangby@viavasterbotten.se, +46 70 595 19 30.

Clients, municipalitys, partners and other contacts; we would like to wish you a lovely summer! We look forward to a succesful fall of 2013 working together with you.

Company of the month: Nordic Biomarker

karolinaWritten juni 13th, 2013 by karolina

This month we have chosen to highlight a company operating in the Life Science sector in Umeå. The company has become successful on a global market in a short time after starting operations. Read more!

Nordic Biomarker is an OEM supplier of specialty hemostasis reagents, that are used to diagnose bleeding disorders. In a welfare society where the occurrence of blood clots gets more common and people’s access to health care continues to grow, Nordic Biomarker’s products meet a growing demand.

The company was founded in 2007. Already in 2010 did Nordic Biomarker recieve it’s first million order and the production was scaled up. The production continued to increase and Nordic Biomarker went from being two people employed with a turnover of 4 MSEK in 2008 to a workforce of 8 and a turnover of 17 MSEK in 2012.

Nordic Biomarker is an owner-managed company characterized by short decision times and high effectiveness. They are known for close and uncomplicated relations with their customers. Today the main customers of the company are small and middle sized actors that sell and provide instruments for coagulation diagnostics. Instruments are most often delivered with a set of reagents, either for routine tests or speciality tests that the instrument producers need to buy.  Nordic Biomarker delivers mainly speciality tests and this is where they see their large opportunity. The company has had a good timing with their products and thanks to the fact that they have solved complex matters in production they have been given an advantage over some larger producers who have not yet solved all required steps of production.

Nordic Biomarker’s mission is to become the leading independent supplier of specialty hemostasis reagents. The company just recieved financing from a research project by Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency. The financing will be used for technology improvements and to develop a new product that the market expressed a need for.

1. What makes Västerbotten and North Sweden a good place to run your company?

- We find the closeness to Umeå University very valuable and we benefit from that. Except for that, the city of Umeå is of good size, with easy access to people and good communications. It is easy to cooperate in northern Sweden since people help each other and are sincere.

2. What makes your company’s product or services unique?

- We offer quality and delivery on time. Since we are independent from the large actors we can deliver on time and our products are available to many customers. Our product in it self is not totally unique, but our independence which creates great benefits is unique. In addition, we customize our service based on each customer’s needs.

3. What is the vision of your company? Where are you in five years time?

- Our vision is to be the leading independent manufacturer of specialty hemostasis reagents globally. Nordic Biomarker will probably produce and sell all three of the existing products in five years time, but there might be some additional products in the assortment by then. We believe in a bright future for Nordic Biomarker, our market is constantly growing.

For more information, please visit Nordic Biomarker’s webpage:

Or contact:
Gunnar Pohl, CEO / Director of Marketing
Phone: +46 – (0)90 71 86 01
E-mail: marketing@nordicbiomarker.com

Vita Foods, Geneva

BjörnWritten maj 24th, 2013 by Björn

Vitafoods in Geneva is one of the major events in neutraceuticals and health ingredients. The trend is that justified health claims becomes more important and that they are backed up with clinical trials. It is also obvious that even if a good product is important, marketing is essential. It was a good trade show but with only a few good prospects.

Success for Northern Sweden Pavilion at LIGNA 2013

NinaWritten maj 24th, 2013 by Nina


I just attended LIGNA in Hannover, Germany together with my colleagues Olle and Karolina. LIGNA is one of the world´s largest tradeshows in the Sawmill and Woodworking industry with an area of 130,000 square meters. The tradeshow had just over 2,000 exhibitors from more than 50 countries. This year it is was more than 90,000 visitors and 40% from other countries than Germany.

I was very excited since it was the first time I arranged a Northern Sweden Pavilion at an international trade show. My work preparation had been since last summer. Most of the work was to recruit the companies and align their interest. The companies and organizations participating were Renholmen, DataPolarna, Cartesia, Alent Drying, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Luleå University of Technology, TräIN project and Västerbotten Investment Agency.

The companies and organizations showcased products and innovations together with spearhead research. It was fantastic that we could show that Northern Sweden is a region with large potential, great companies, leading in wood technology, wood research and full of new opportunities.

Except for exhibiting we also arranged a press tour and mini seminars. We had hoped for more participants at the mini seminars. The speaker that got the biggest audience was Professor Anders Grönlund from LTU. Those who listen told me afterwards that they really appreciated this type of seminars. The presence of Luleå University of Technology strengthens the image we wanted to create about the Nordic region. Besides that, we were very thrilled that journalists from Sweden, Norway, United States and Germany were visiting our pavilion. They made interviews, so hopefully we will soon see something published about us in the press.

The companies participated in LIGNA to look for new international collaboration and to meet new but also existing customers. I got positive response from all of our co-exhibitors and they were very satisfied with the week. Now when we are back in Sweden, we will have an evaluation meeting in beginning of June, to make a judgment if this activity created value. One of the co-exhibitor cannot attend the evaluation meeting, since they are visiting a potential customer in Germany, which they met at LIGNA. Yes, the fair is already showing positive effects!

Company of the month: SRK Consulting

karolinaWritten april 15th, 2013 by karolina

This month we would like to present  a company operating in the booming mining indystry in northern Sweden.

SRK Consulting

SRK Consulting is an independent global mining consultancy. Originally from South Africa, the company was founded in 1974 and now operates on six continents with more than 50 offices and 1600 members of the staff. The Skellefteå office, being the only office in the Nordics, was opened in 2009, after the management recognised the importance of the Nordic market. Even though this was in the middle of the financial crisis, Sweden was viewed as a stable destination and low risk initiative.

SRK Consulting specialise in all technical aspects of mining projects, with strengths in geology and resource estimation, mine design, process metallurgy and environmental and social aspects. SRK often act as the link between the mining industry and the finance community, either preparing feasibility studies or reviewing these on behalf of lenders. The office in Skellefteå has a growing team of international consultants covering the major mining disciplines, from for example Finland, South Africa, UK, Russia, and Papua New Guinea. Managing Director Johan Bradley notes that whilst the office focuses on the Nordics, to maintain a global perspective and ensure that industry best practices are brought back to the region, SRK will continue to cooperate with other SRK offices globally and work with overseas projects.

What makes Västerbotten and North Sweden a good place to run your company?

-“The fact that we are sitting pretty much in the centre of the Fennoscandian Shield. Operating from Skellefteå, Västerbotten means that we have a mining district on our doorstep and are close to the other mining areas in Sweden and Finland. Apart from that it is great to operate in a city where mining is very much part of the history and culture.”

What makes your company’s product/service unique?

-“I guess that SRK has a global profile, that we understand international reporting standards and that we cover all the key technical disciplines under one roof.”

What is the vision of your company? Where are you in five years’ time?

-“That we get to around 30 technical consultants in two or more offices in the region, that we’re recognised as experts in our field and that we continue to enjoy what we do.“

For more information, please contact SRK Consulting Skellefteå or visit their webpage:

Phone: :+46 70 3424 591
E-mail: jbradley@srk.se.com


Presenting Company of the Month: Floda 31

karolinaWritten februari 27th, 2013 by karolina

Every month from now on VIA will present an interesting company operating in Västerbotten! We are doing this to show a glimps of all the impressive companies that exists in our region. Companies from all sectors, sizes and age will be presented. First up is Floda 31!

Floda 31

Rich Holland and Marije de Haas were the funding members of a succesful all media company, Bullet Creative. After ten years of finding creative solutions to communicate customer’s messages they wanted a break from traditional commercial design and looked for quality of life. The result was northern Sweden and Floda 31. Rich and Marije took their extensive experience from design, art, architecture, typography, commercial and more, and left London and moved to North Sweden.  They started Floda 31, -a sustainable design research centre for creative people all over the world.

Floda 31′s intentions are to provide an environment that fosters new connections, networks and cross disciplinary encounters. Their laboratory for innovation and creativity is meant to encourage talented individuals from different disciplines to collaborate and share knowledge in order to redefine problems and create innovative solutions. Sustainability is a thoroughgoing focus of Floda 31, no matter if the customer is Nike or a small company. Rich and Marije believe that sustainability should be tackled by collaboration between disciplines, and that is one reason for the cross disciplinary approach of their business.

What makes Västerbotten and North Sweden a good place to run your company?

- The fact that you are connected but at the same time on the edge of wilderness. You are 45 min from everything! Another thing is that there is a vision among people in northern Sweden. They see the incredible potential that exists here. The scenery and beauty of it is yet another reason.

What makes your company’s product/service unique?

- Our service is unique because we offer the experience of a multidisciplinary background in a wilderness location, there are very few places like that around the world.

What is the vision of your company? Where are you in five years time?

- In five years time we would like to be fully running with all the facilities in order and workshops all set up. We also wish to keep Floda 31 sustainable -”doing different and working with what you´ve got”.

For more information, please contact Floda 31 and visit their webpage:

Phone: +46 90 695 7631

More Västerbotten restaurants make it into White Guide

ingerWritten februari 13th, 2013 by inger

I’m so pleased to see that more and more restaurants in Västerbotten are getting noted in White Guide as top restaurants worth a visit or two. All of us who live here are well aware of the amazing food products this region has to offer, but unfortunately gastronomy tourism hasn’t really taken off yet. Hopefully these new honorary acknowledgements will help to promote the gastronomy tourism in Västerbotten further and spur more and more restaurants to excel within their field.

White Guide is the complete restaurant guide for the top restaurants in Sweden and each year they revise which restaurants in the country who are in and who are not.

The restaurants that are mentioned in White Guide in Västerbotten are:


In White Guide Winter sport edition the restaurants at the Ski resorts are ranked and two more restaurants in Västerbotten are noted, Fleetwoods Matsal in Hemavan http://www.stromma.se/sv/Hemavan-tarnaby/Vinter/Mat–afterski/Hemavan2/Mat/Fleetwoods-matsal–Loungebaren/ and Virisen in Tärnaby. www.virisen.se

Business Sweden is the new national investment promoter

karolinaWritten januari 25th, 2013 by karolina

Business Sweden is the name of Sweden’s new investment promoter. The organisation is a merger between the Swedish Trade Council and Invest Sweden with the aim to ”take on any assignment related to exports and investment”.

According to Ulf Berg, the organisation’s chief executive officer, is the new brand the beginning of a common journey in the interest of Sweden.

“The aim is to make us an even more attractive, innovative and competitive partner to do business with, both at home and abroad.”, Ulf Berg says.

Business Sweden is jointly owned by the state and the business sector and essentially provides services required to establish a company and its products, services or ideas in new markets. It has offices in 60 countries and work closely with trade associations, embassies, consulates and chambers of commerce.

Business Sweden is the national partner to Västerbotten Investment Agency. We are wishing Business Sweden all the luck in their new organisation!

(Read more about Business Sweden on their new website: www.business-sweden.se)