Cities at work: Gothenburg’s entrepreneurial hub

  • economy

Gothenburg’s ‘Entrepreneurial West Hisingen’ programme is supporting employability among residents in a challenging city district.

The district of West Hisingen in Gothenburg is divided distinctly into two parts: a mainly native Swedish population with a strong business tradition inhabits one side, while the other is a rapidly growing community of immigrants, characterised by low levels of education and employment. The city developed the Entrepreneurial West Hisingen programme as a means of breaking the cycle of disengagement and poverty in this neighbourhood, and to help citizens acquire the skills and knowledge for employability.

The programme has three strands: stimulating start-ups, increasing the survival rate and growth of existing businesses, and embedding entrepreneurship education into schools. The aim was to create a new entrepreneurial identity for the district, with quality job opportunities and a long term interest in entrepreneurship among young people.

The project consists of a number of services, such as workshops, courses and personal guidance, available in various languages. There are facilities such as The Greenhouse, a ‘business hotel’ offering office and networking spaces to new entrepreneurs. This is also the place where established entrepreneurs can come for business advice from masters students on issues such as patents, agreements and public procurement. The project has already held some 600 start-up talks, leading to the creation of 100 new businesses, and over 4,500 people have visited The Greenhouse.

One of the most challenging aspects of the project was working with schools to implement entrepreneurial education as part of the mainstream curriculum. This meant persuading local politicians of the value of prioritising entrepreneurial and business learning over traditional subjects. Ten schools have since created plans for systematically working with entrepreneurship and got involved in the ‘Young Storytellers’ project’, which saw 2,000 pupils write, publish and sell their own books.  

In a sign of the project’s adaptability, it now includes a fast-track incubator for newly arrived immigrants from Syria who ran successful businesses in their home countries.

The project won the EUROCITIES award for cooperation in November 2015. To find out more about Entrepreneurial West Hisingen, take a look at our case study, available here.

With our cities at work series, we are demonstrating the important role cities play in promoting quality employment and a fairer, more inclusive society. In February 2015, we launched the EUROCITIES declaration on work and on 22 February 2016 we are hosting a high level roundtable on work with the European Commission with the aim of establishing a structured partnership on employment. #citiesatwork