The Swedish Entrepreneurship Academy’s vision is as follows: Sweden will have an internationally competitive, entrepreneurial climate and a culture of acceptance that benefits and promotes the art of entrepreneurship.
“But I would say that this vision is almost a hygiene factor, because how will we meet the challenges of the future without entrepreneurs? We have an enormous need for courageous entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks,” says Kristina Alsér, chair of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth and a member of the Government’s commission looking into simplifying the rules for microenterprises.
She maintains that there are countless people dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur, but only a few actually realise that dream.
“There are plenty of initiatives to facilitate the process. There is a lot of support for entrepreneurship but it’s fractured. What we need is a unified approach and that’s the approach we want to take.”
In this arena, which is at the core of the Swedish Entrepreneurship Academy’s work, knowledge will be collected and communicated to decision-makers and politicians at the local, regional and national levels.
“We also want to spread knowledge throughout the educational establishment and to other entrepreneurs. The three key areas where initiatives are needed have been defined as art, culture and the climate. All preceded by the word ‘entrepreneurship’.
Art is about individuals and their entrepreneurial skills. But it’s also about the art of leadership. It’s important to be able to lead and develop an enterprise.”
The second key area, culture, is about society’s view of entrepreneurs. Kristina Alsér believes that attitudes towards entrepreneurs have gradually improved over the past few decades and those who have achieved great success are held up as role models.
“But what about those working away at their small enterprises, what do we actually think of them? It would also be great to have more women role models and entrepreneurs working outside the big cities. It scares me when I hear the way some bureaucrats and government agencies talk about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. There really is a lot that needs to change,” she says.
Laws, regulations and support systems that affect or make things easier for entrepreneurs are part of what the Swedish Entrepreneurship Academy defines as the climate.
“The support system is a jungle. There are myriad initiatives and organisations. It’s almost impossible to get a clear picture of what’s out there. That’s why we’ve launched a commission to create a comprehensible map.”
Alsér believes that the rules and regulations are not aligned with the realities that entrepreneurs face.
“It’s such a hassle. The exact same rules apply to a small baker as to a big bakery company.”
The idea was for the Swedish Entrepreneurship Academy to launch its activities for the public in spring 2020. But the pandemic put a stop to that.
“We had planned to hold a top-level meeting with experts, researchers and individuals with experience in this area. We also planned a similar event for this year. Instead we’ve been focusing on building our platform. It’s important to be prepared for when we can finally hold a physical event.
In addition to mapping out the support system, the Steering Committee has also launched a study on entrepreneurship of the past, present and future.
“We want to know what has distinguished entrepreneurship from the beginning of the last century. The whole idea is to build a body of knowledge and to use history to shape the future,” says Alsér whose commitment to this comes from the insight that many more people need to realise the significant potential that exists in entrepreneurship.
Johan Carlstedt is Project Manager for the Swedish Entrepreneurship Academy.
“It’s important to have a long-term perspective on developing entrepreneurship. That’s why we’re focusing on the education system – from schools to universities. Entrepreneurship education should be a common thread at all levels of education,” he says.
Two networks consisting of committed participants have been formed to tackle the issue – one for schools and the other for higher education. The goal for both is the same: to teach more people about entrepreneurship and its possibilities.
To spread knowledge about how to design good entrepreneurship education programmes the Entrepreneurship Academy is offering a series of webinars. Successful Swedish and international educators will share their know-how.
“Another part of our new activity plan is focused on intrapreneurship. That’s an incredibly important issue and a crucial factor if established companies are going to be competitive.”
Knowledge about intrapreneurship will also be shared via monthly webinars. The speakers will be representatives from companies such as IKEA, Spotify and Ericsson.
“We will also offer a tool to assess a company’s intrapreneurship potential. The tool is based on the intrapreneurship research of Professor Ivo Zanders,” says Johan Carlstedt, also pointing out that several of the activities will be combined with other initiatives to promote entrepreneurship.