HRH Prince Daniel's speech at the conference SustainTech
(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
62 years. That is how long it took for the car to reach a global market of 50 million customers. The mobile phone? 12 years to reach its first 50 million users. Pokémon Go? 19 days. Yes, days.
Again: from 62 years to 19 days to reach 50 million people. That is how fast we have developed and adopted new technology. I find this extremely fascinating, since we also know that technology will be a big part of the answer to many of the big questions of our time.
I think everyone in this room has a strong focus on the future. And rightly so! Still – to navigate our future, we also need to know our history. Take Sweden as an example. 150 years ago, in 1870, Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe. We were starving!
But a hundred years later, in 1970, we were the fourth richest country in the world. How did that happen?
There are many explanations but I believe there are three key factors in this.
Without companies such as Stora Enso, Atlas Copco, Sandvik and others, the trees would just be trees, and the iron ore would just be rocks – instead of thousands of job opportunities and massive export earnings for Sweden.
Entrepreneurs like Alfred Nobel and LM Ericsson. Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea, and Erling Persson, H&M, Jan Stenbeck and others have been so important for Sweden and without this strong tradition of entrepreneurship, Sweden wouldn’t be the prosperous country it is today. And I'm happy to say that a new generation of great entrepreneurs, both women and men, are taking over.
Secondly: openness to the world.
As I said, we were one of the poorest countries in Europe. 150 years ago, poverty drove over one million Swedes to cross the Atlantic in search of a better future in America.
This opened up the world to us. It gave us knowledge and connections, leading to global trade and partnerships. This is something we continue to benefit from today. And export is crucial to our economy: 46 percent of our GDP comes from export.
Thirdly and lastly: access to growth capital.
Spotify, Klarna and iZettle; Swedish success stories – but they happened with growth capital partly from abroad.
Now we are following North Volt and the founder Peter Carlsson, one of the most exciting companies in Europe.
Last June, NorthVolt raised one billion dollars to enable the establishment of the lithium-ion battery factory up in Skellefteå.
The factory will be the size of one hundred soccer fields and is expected to create more than three thousand jobs. The goal is to make the world’s greenest battery.
However, none of this would be possible without external financing.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, said he only ever took one real loan in his life.
As a very young man, he went to the local bank in Liatorp, where an accountant, kamrer Ekström, granted him a loan of 500 Swedish crowns, about 50 US dollars, to his small retail business. Today, that business employs more than 200 000 people worldwide and has one billion visitors yearly.
500 crowns to Ingvar Kamprad. 1 billion dollars to NorthVolt. The sums differ. But the principle is the same.
No matter what business you are in, no matter how brilliant your ideas are: If you want to grow – if you want to reach those first 50 million users fast – you will probably need capital and you will definitely need people who believe in you.
That is why this event is so important. And I am happy to welcome all of you, from Sweden and abroad, to SustainTech Venture Day 2020.