(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear entrepreneurs, innovators and investors.
Who would have thought, one year ago, that this new way of life; virtual business meetings and conferences, digital classes in high schools, Zoom coffee with older relatives;
Who would have thought that just one year later, this would be “the new normal”?
It has been a tough year for many, a nightmare for some.
On top of the devastating loss of lives, the pandemic has led to deep economic recessions, and an exceptional increase in global poverty.
Last year the global economy shrunk by 4,4%, which the IMF describes as the worst decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
During the same time, according to the World Bank’s estimates, the covid-19 pandemic pushed about 120 million people into extreme poverty. Decades of progress in healthcare and education have been reversed.
This is, of course, a global disaster.
However, there have been some positive outcomes, too:
Digitalization has taken giant leaps forward.
Among those who are able to work from home, many now experience a better work-life balance – and some even relocate for good to the countryside.
Many companies have prospered during the pandemic; they now suddenly have a perfect product-market fit.
But I think one of the most important lessons from this pandemic is that global crises need a global response. And that requires powerful measures.
I mean, if we think the pandemic has changed our lives dramatically… wait and see what happens if we don’t address the climate crisis seriously. Business as usual is simply not an option any more.
In order to achieve the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals, technology, science and innovation will be absolutely crucial.
Well aware of this, the biggest investment firms are now scaling up their investments in sustainable development. Last year almost 300 billion dollars were invested in sustainable assets; 96% more than the year before.
As Larry Fink, CEO of Black Rock, said recently: “We know that climate risk is investment risk. But we also believe the climate transition presents a historic investment opportunity.”
For Swedish sustainable tech companies, this is good news. Swedish entrepreneurs have always been extremely apt at finding new ways forward: adopting and developing new technology – and rapidly adapting to new global trends and demands.
The green shift is happening. And not just in Stockholm, but all over the country:
Right now, at a pilot plant in Luleå, green steel is becoming real.
In the small town of Skellefteå, thousands of jobs are being created in a new battery factory powered by wind and water.
And in Gothenburg, an entrepreneur is building a Swedish electric aviation industry.
These are just a few examples of how Swedish businesses are contributing to a more sustainable future.
The companies that are pitching here today represent many more such examples, active in everything from energy and infrastructure to construction and artificial intelligence.
Indeed, when I look at today’s line-up, I feel really proud of the Swedish spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship – and of how it contributes to a better and more sustainable society for all.
Dear investors and entrepreneurs – I wish you the best of luck with your important work, today and in the future!