Swedish business incubator Iqube closes its doors

A high-profile business incubator that many hoped would bring forward a new generation of Swedish entrepreneurs has shut its doors.

Iqube, set up by well-known businessman Johan Staël von Holstein, announced on Friday that it was winding up its operations. The company will continue as a holding company to manage the portfolio of companies in which it has shares. Iqube currently has shares in around 100 companies.

According to Staël von Holstein, who made his name in the IT boom, the move would enable Iqube to “best take advantage of the value of the existing portfolio.”

The decision will mean Iqube leaving its premises in Stockholm’s Östermalm, where many of its companies have offices. In an email to those affected, Staël von Holstein said that the decision was taken “against the background of the current market situation and the economic climate.”

“It’s a business decision that needed to be made,” Staël von Holstein told The Local. He said that he had spent much of the past year trying to raise the necessary capital to keep the incubator going, but the recession had meant he had only raised about half the money he needed.

Despite the setback, Staël von Holstein said the idea would live on, and that he was already working on ‘Iqube 2’.

Iqube owns a minority share in The Local Europe AB, publisher of The Local. The latest developments will have no effect on The Local.

Iqube’s success stories include mobile software developer Kennet Works, which was sold to Yahoo in 2006 for $22 million.

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Police in bid to break refugee hunger strike

The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has enlisted the help of police negotiators in a bid to try to break hunger strikes by asylum-seekers in Boden, Gävle and Holmsund in northern Sweden.

Police in bid to break refugee hunger strike

“The police have unique skills for talking to people in extremely vulnerable situations,” said Mikael Ribbenvik at the board.

Refugees in Boden and Holmsund have been on hunger strike since mid-April, while asylum-seekers in Gävle began their protest a little over a week ago.

Most of the hunger-strikers are originally from Afghanistan and many have been taken to hospital for treatment in the course of the hunger strike.

All of those involved are seeking residency in Sweden, several have been rejected while others are waiting for rulings or plan to seek asylum elsewhere in the EU.

The Migration Board sought the help of the police on Friday to try to end the protest and the negotiators were deployed in Boden and Gävle on Saturday.

Work to end the hunger strike in Holmsund is due to begin on Sunday.

“We are very worried about their health, it is dangerous to hunger strike,” said Mikael Ribbenvik.

“At the same time we can’t solve a hunger strike by granting residency permits, there is no one who can change a ruling or decision by protest, we are thus looking for other ways to solve the matter.”