Norrsken House: The social start-up hub building a better future

SI News spoke with Oskar Malm Wiklund, from the Member Experience & Tech team at Norrsken House, to find out more about how the Stockholm-based co-working space is helping to solve societal problems.

Norrsken House: The social start-up hub building a better future
Photo: Norrsken House

Hosting companies such as Karma, an app helping reduce food waste, Welcome tackling integration issues by connecting locals and the newly arrived, or World Favor making it easier to assess your organization’s sustainability, social start-up hub Norrsken House is a hotspot of social innovation.

Founded in Stockholm in 2016 and described as 'an office space for entrepreneurs with a vision to make the world a better place', Norrsken House is a creative cluster for more than 300 entrepreneurs, tackling society's biggest challenges, from sustainability to social integration or health among many others.

“Norrsken House is an ecosystem that gives impact entrepreneurs the same access to powerful support and funding as regular tech entrepreneurs as well as making social entrepreneurs the rockstars of tomorrow by providing them with the best workspace in the world,” Malm Wiklund tells SI News.

Niklas Adalberth, Norrsken's founder and co-founder of fintech unicorn Klarna founded Norrsken House with an aim to solve social challenges and accelerate positive change.

Photo: Norrsken House

“Niklas Adalberth realised after working more than ten years with Klarna that he wanted to do something that would benefit the world in a more direct way,” says Malm Wiklund.

“Initially, Niklas started Norrsken Foundation in 2016 with one idea that later on became the initiative Klarity, an anti-corruption platform,” he continues.

But a fortunate turn of events widened the scope of the original project. When looking for an office space for the 20 Klarity team members, the real-estate agents suggested a large old tram depot of 2400m2, Spårvagnshallarna, located in the centre of the capital.

“However, Spårvagnshallarna was much bigger than initially planned. That's when the idea for an entire house dedicated to impact entrepreneurs emerged,” explains Malm Wiklund.

Malm Wiklund believes that Sweden, which is a role model for many countries in the social innovation field, is the perfect place for such an initiative to flourish.

“Sweden is in a very good position when it comes to humanitarian and social work,” he tells SI News adding that “Sweden ranked second on the 2015 European Foreign Policy Scorecard. Sweden grants the highest number of residence permits to asylum seekers in the EU.”

“We are a small and agile nation that has had a long history in entrepreneurship and innovation as well as doing social good. Sweden is in many ways seen as a cultural role model when it comes to things like gender diversity, public safety, human rights, climate and healthcare among many other things.”

Indeed, Sweden with its leading position in the field has a unique role to play in the growth of social impact and entrepreneurship for a better future.

“Sweden can leverage this fact, and our entrepreneurial spirit in order to accelerate the growth of social entrepreneurship by investing time, money and resources into highlighting social ventures and by focusing on the solutions rather than the problems,” he concludes.

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Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.