STOCK­HOLM Swe­den

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Any­one who has used video, played games or lis­tened to mu­sic on a phone prob­a­bly has a Swedish firm to thank. Spo­tify, Skype and Eric­s­son are all from this Scan­di­na­vian pace­set­ter. So is game de­vel­oper Mo­jang which cre­ated Minecraft, the sec­ond-best­selling video game ever, and King, re­spon­si­ble for Candy Crush Saga. Six per cent of all bil­lion-dol­lar tech com­pa­nies come from this coun­try of just 10 mil­lion peo­ple.

Al­most a fifth of Stock­holm’s pop­u­la­tion work in tech — a greater pro­por­tion than any other city in Eu­rope — and per capita the city is the world’s most ac­tive tech hub af­ter Sil­i­con Val­ley it­self. The Swedish cap­i­tal is cur­rently one of Eu­rope’s hottest cities for star­tups and ven­ture cap­i­tal. It par­tic­u­larly at­tracts top soft­ware pro­gram­mers, re­spon­si­ble (among many other things) for travel cre­ations such as in­ter­net-based re­al­time air traf­fic recorder Fligh­tradar24, lo­cal guide con­nec­tor plat­form Triple and travel ser­vice soft­ware com­pany Snow­fall.

None of this de­vel­op­ment is ac­ci­den­tal. Swe­den has al­ways been for­ward-look­ing and pro­gres­sive, with a well-ed­u­cated work­force and high liv­ing stan­dards. It es­tab­lished high-speed in­ter­net 20 years ago and gave cit­i­zens and com­pa­nies tax breaks for buy­ing com­put­ers. It has Eu­rope’s high­est smart de­vice pen­e­tra­tion — more than one per per­son.

Suc­cess sto­ries: E-com­merce sales firm Klarna, fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy com­pany iZet­tle and the so­cial shop­ping web­site for emerg­ing de­sign­ers, Tic­tail. Stock­holm ex­cels in games and mu­sic, with com­pa­nies such as strat­egy game pub­lisher Para­dox In­ter­ac­tive, cloud-based record­ing stu­dio Sound­trap and mu­sic soft­ware com­pany Auxy top per­form­ers.

THIS PAGE, FROM TOP Graf­fiti wall in­side Spo­tify’s head­quar­ters in Stock­holm; Spo­tify em­ploy­ees. OP­PO­SITE PAGE Austin’s SXSW has grown in size ev­ery year. NEXT PAGECape Town has been nick­named ‘Sil­i­con Cape’.

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