Cecilia Hjerzel: Organic food products, IT services, data scientists – opportunities in Sweden for the companies from Macedonia


PrimePoint Partners third webinar featuring digital strategist, Cecilia Hjerzell, looked into the different approach that the Swedish government took in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and how the Swedish companies dealt with it.

The strategy of the Swedish government consisted of reliance on hard science and statistics, citizens’ trust in the government, competent people on the right positions and high level of personal responsibility.

“The Government makes decisions based on statistics, the main person leading the strategy is a Chief Epidemiologist, they are very transparent saying that no one knows what the best strategy is but if we all follow the same strategy, we will never know what the right response was” – explained Cecilia.

“A few new hospitals with intensive care units have been opened rapidly, and the healthcare workers get a double salary. The military is not on the streets, trying to get people away from the streets, but they are creating protection masks, and other medical devices and are helping the healthcare workers.  – she added.

“The collaboration within the Government has been quite impressive.  No one knows which the right way is, but the citizens trust that the government is doing their best, and they believe that the Government has the capacity to make the best decision for their wellbeing. This is the most important factor of dealing with the crisis. There is no fear among the people, and the situation is very calm.” – says Cecilia.

Sweden has always scored high in the areas of digitization, due to the great connectivity and coverage with fiber-optic internet in every household provided by the government. A digital school platform was launched 5 years ago, every kid was given a laptop from the city and they can login into the platform which includes all the tasks and lectures from the school.

The automotive industry and other manufactures in Sweden have been significantly affected. However, Sweden has a number of companies producing digital services, like Spotify, Loopia, etc. which are doing well despite the crisis. So far more than 300,000 people have lost their jobs. The governmental focus has not only been on assisting businesses but also on providing a social protection network for the employees. The government is helping the small business by reducing tax, and by helping them pay the rent and other operational costs. The government also assists them to keep the employees by paying around 80% of the personnel salaries until they can go back to normal.

Sweden is focused on producing digital services in a sustainable way, such as data centers that use renewable energies. The big companies have realized that they have been too dependent on fuel and too dependent on China. So they are trying to find alternatives to the supply chain.

In Stockholm, it has been hard to find developers in the past 10 years, there is still a big need for that. IT industry is a great opportunity for collaboration and the need for competent software companies will be way more needed once the “normal” resume.  Also, there is a need for competent data scientists.

There are different processes of collaborating with Swedish supermarkets, so the link is still not there, but there is a market for food products from Macedonia including organic products and wine. Purchase managers are interested in finding new products and they can handle small volumes, too. The Sarajevo office of “Business Sweden” representing the region can provide a great link for connecting companies with Swedish partners. But companies can also use digital marketing to target Sweden and build the demand for the product.

The webinar was moderated by Dijana Despodov, Corporate Advisory and Innovation Partner at PrimePoint Partners.

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