Stockholm opens digital innovation ‘Epicenter’

It’s no secret that Sweden is on the forefront of digital innovation, with companies such as Spotify, Klarna, and Skype. Now Stockholm has gained its first ‘innovation center’.

Last week hundreds of people gathered at a non-descript building in central Stockholm. A few of them proceeded to get digital chips implanted into their hands, so that they will never have to use keys again.

Others gazed through digital 360 degree goggles showing scenes from across the world, responsive to the wearer’s every move for an immersive experience which makes you feel like you are there.

A man gets a chip implanted in his hand to open doors. Photo: Epicenter

The occasion was the opening of Epicenter. But what is it?

"Epicenter will be a landing place for both Swedish and foreign companies ready to move forward," Ola Ahlvarsson said.

Ola Ahlvarsson has frequently been called one of Sweden's biggest IT entrepreneurs. Indeed, he has started or been involved in running 22 different digital companies.

He is also the man behind the SIME international media conference and a member of the World Economic Forum's innovation programme. He has even advised companies such as Google, Ericsson, and Microsoft. Epicenter in Stockholm is his latest project.

Ola Ahlvarsson, entrepreneur. Photo: SI News

It’s an office space, but it’s also more than that.

“This place isn’t going to be about square metres,” Ahlvarsson said at the opening event. “It’s about environment, context, and purpose. This whole district is going to become something completely new, an Urban Escape, a place of innovation.”

Microsoft, Tictail, Urbit, SIME, Splay, and Starstable are just a few of the companies which have already taken up residence.

Epicenter isn't just about digital startups, though that is a key group. The offices will also house engineers, architects, and finance companies. The idea is that they can speak with each other, exchange ideas, and grow in all ways. The building itself covers 800 square meters and lies right in the heart of Stockholm, beside the Gallerian mall at Sergels torg.

But the workspace is also very flexible, with an open landscape so that members can interact with each other and don't feel locked in. There are coworking desks, open offices, studios, privat offices, and even a restaurant and theatre.

In addition to general office space for the companies there, Epicenter will also offer weekly educational events from SIME, Wired Magazine, Singularity University, and more – many of which may be open to students. So keep your eye out!

Read more about Epicenter here.

Read more about Swedish startups and tech events