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Invest in Västerbotten (IVB)

Invest in Västerbotten (IVB) is a project designed to help small- and medium-sized enterprises in
Västerbotten to find international partners and investors.

Vill du hitta nya internationella marknader för ditt företag?

Invest in Västerbotten hjälper dig att nå ut på den internationella marknaden.


Learn more about Västerbotten

The region of Västerbotten was home to 263 378 people in 2015, which was 2.7% of the Swedish population. It has a land area of 54 672 square kilometres, which is close to the size of Croatia. Västerbotten has a population density of 4.8 inhabitants per square kilometre compared to the national figure of 24.2. In the 10 years to 2015, the population grew at an average annual rate of 0.22% compared to the national average of 0.85%. GDP per capita for Västerbotten in 2012 was USD 36 975 slightly higher than the OECD average of USD 35 812.The unemployment rate in Västerbotten is low, 6,1 %, compared with the national level at 7,4 %.

Historically, the backbone of the regional economy has been mining, forestry and energy.

The main exports from the region today are:

  • timber
  • wood products and pulp and paper products
  • machinery and other manufactured goods
  • minerals

The region has a large mining industry which includes the extraction and processing of gold, copper and zinc.

Västerbotten is relatively well connected within Sweden. The major road links are the north-south E4 which links the region to Stockholm, and north to Luleå and the Finnish border, the north-south E45 through the interior of the region, and the E12 which connects through to Mo I Rana in Norway. There is also passenger railway linking Umeå to Sundsvall and Stockholm on the Bothnia Line, north toward Luleå and Narvik, and west toward Lycksele. Umeå, Skellefteå, Vilhelmina, Lycksele, HemavanStoruman airports all offers one hour flights to Stockholm. There is a ferry which connects Umeå and the Finnish city of Vaasa that provides an important east-west transport link.

Making business in Västerbotten

GDP per capita for Västerbotten in 2012 was USD 36 975 slightly higher than the OECD average of USD 35 812.

The key driver of growth for the region has been productivity, which is apparent in comparison to the national average.

Västerbotten has also developed strengths in relation to business services (professional, scientific and IT), and manufacturing. Although Västerbotten has a strong natural resource base to its economy, it also has a number of large public institutions. This includes three universities (Umeå University and campuses for the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Luleå Technical University), one university hospital in Umeå and two hospitals in Lycksele and Skellefteå.

A key feature of the region relative to other rural regions, is the growth of higher value services (particularly professional and scientific, and IT) connected with the university and hospital. As with other regions in northern Sweden, the public sector has a key role in the economy.

Tourism-related activity is growing. Västerbotten’s tourism attractions centre on its nature-based activities related to its attractive lakes and river valleys: fishing, hunting, camping, hiking and skiing. The region also has tourism activities related to the Sami culture. Over the last decade, the region has put a greater priority on improving its tourism offers, including improving linkages with Norrbotten.

A key feature for Västerbotten is the share of people with higher education. A significant share of the population aged 15-64 in Västerbotten has a higher education, which is also higher than the national average. The corresponding figures are higher for young adults aged 20-24. This is a key difference between Västerbotten and its northern neighbours, and many other NSPA regions. The high level of education is due to the large universities and hospital that are located in Umeå.

Västerbotten is a remote and low density region with urban centres that are wellconnected and high quality broadband coverage in rural areas. The broadband is actually the best in the world. Levels of innovation and entrepreneurship are relatively high compared to other northern counties. Levels of innovation are relatively high. The level of performance in relation to new enterprises is impressive, exceeds the national level, and is also out-performing the other northern counties.

Why should I make business in Västerbotten?

  • Västerbotten has a significant endowment of natural resources and has benefited from favourable external conditions.

The region has a long history of mining and embedded assets in terms of local political support, skills, and technology. Over the past decade growth has been supported by higher commodity prices and investment in extractive industries. However, these external conditions are changing and the region maybe vulnerable to reduced production, investment and employment. The region has been proactive in developing a strategic approach to lifting the competitiveness of the mining industry and generating more value from it, and connections with the local universities have been strengthened. As mining activity slows down the challenge for the region will be developing new markets for local firms that provide mining related services (including engineering, maintenance, and managing environmental impacts).

  • The region has a significant higher education presence which is an important source of professional jobs, income from students, and research.

Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have research and teaching specialisations in areas such as industrial design, fine arts, environmental engineering, digital services, natural sciences, health and forestry. The public sector and the university have invested in an innovation infrastructure including science parks and business incubators, which is starting to provide a pay-off in terms of business start-ups. These areas of specialisation have informed the county’s smart specialisation strategy. This strategy is focused on the following sectoral areas: innovations in health care, lifsciences, technology and service in the industry testing, sustainable energy and environmental engineering, the cultural and creative industries, and digital services. The strategy also identifies the importance of promoting collaboration between these sector to facilitate new economic activities. A key advantage for the region is the opportunity to link natural resource-based industries (food and agriculture, mining and forestry) with high technology sectors (life sciences, testing, environmental engineering and digital services). Linking these rural and urban-based sectors should be a key focus of the strategy going forwards.

  • Västerbotten has been proactive at improving digital connectivity and has taken a leadership role in the provision of tele-medicine.

The region and municipalities have coinvested to improve broadband connectivity across the region, which has provided a platform for innovation in service delivery. The municipalities and the county are promoting e-government through a shared project, e-Västerbotten. It includes an inventory to identify areas of potential collaboration, promoting new technologies and good practice, and creating common technological platforms for the delivery of e-services. There has been a strong focus within the region on tele-medicine to improve accessibility for rural communities to health care. Physical services are concentrated in a small number of places (e.g. two medical centres for sparsely populated areas in Storuman and Vilhelmina, and a number of smaller cottage hospitals), and tele-medicine is utilised to deliver services to more remote communities which also enables connection with experts in Umeå. Since the mid-1990s, close to 40 different health applications and 230 videoconferencing facilities have been rolled out across the county. Within the health services system this has resulted in increased efficiency, improved competencies amongst staff, and reduced travel times. Umeå University has also developed a research and teaching specialisation in this area, and established a centre Innovationssluss Västerbotten which provides a mechanism to develop new health-related products and services, including ICT solutions.


For more information:

Aurora Pelli

Project manager Invest in Västerbotten

0046-70 611 57 77, aurora.pelli@regionvasterbotten.se

Joel Hedlund

Assistant project manager

0046-70 697 68 46, joel.hedlund@regionvasterbotten.se

Uppdaterad 29 augusti, 2017 kl 10:24 av Micaela Löwenhöök

Västerbottniska produkter möter den europeiska marknaden

En stor delegation från Västerbotten fanns på plats i Hamburg när ett av årets viktigaste events för aktörer inom besöksnäringen arrangerades. Swedish Workshop, arrangerat av Visit Sweden, gick av stapeln 15-16 maj. Ett arrangemang där den svenska besöksnäringen direkt kan möta marknaden, presentera sina produkter och känna marknadens behov samt knyta viktiga affärsrelationer för framtiden.