Published on 18 January 2024
Linköping, Sweden’s fifth largest city, has a population of 166,700 residents. Over the last decade, the number of residents has increased by almost 20,000, which makes Linköping one of the fastest growing cities in Sweden. With this trend likely to continue, the city has been working across sectors and organisations to prepare for future societal changes, focussing on five themes: Climate Change; Urban Planning; Segregation; A Safe, Life-Friendly City, and An Ageing Population. With an eye on the future, Linköping is at an exciting stage of its history, where many positive factors have converged to deliver unprecedented growth, and foster an unwavering faith in the future. The city has its sights set on a transition to a greener, digital, more equitable future and strives to be a leader in promoting innovation and development to enable this transition.
Linköping University (LiU) continues to be central to the city’s success, driving collaboration and innovation in both education and research. and acting as a ‘hotbed’ for new talents and new solutions for commercialisation and valorisation. LiU’s excellence in many forward-looking areas makes Linköping an interesting place to establish companies and strategic research. That research and knowledge have not only been turned into an array of ground-breaking innovations that have reached the world market, but have also been responsible for the development of new spin-off companies and initiatives in the region.
The Linköping Initiative is a network of private and public stakeholders formed in 2018 which now has 18 members, including some of the area’s largest energy consumers. It serves as a platform for learning and sharing experiences of activities that members are involved in, working towards the city’s ambitious carbon neutral goals.
An example of the city’s commitment to becoming one of the most resource-efficient regions is the municipally-owned Tekniska Verken waste-to-energy plant that provides essential local services such as energy, water, waste management and district heating – from waste.
Linköping is growing to meet the needs of the future – and to create a better future. The city is at the forefront of sustainable, innovative urban development and one of the city’s priority areas focuses on the opportunities offered by the digital transformation. Linköping actively invests in IoT technologies and smart solutions in order to accelerate the green transition, to improve the city’s infrastructure, and to enhance the quality of life for the city’s residents using data-driven services. Planning for the city’s LoRa network started back in 2016 and now covers the entire city, enabling long-distance communication with low power consumption, enabling IoT devices to collect data. The network is used to monitor and develop smart city solutions; for example, lighting, parking and waste management, as well as to monitor water and energy consumption, air quality and other infrastructure.
In September of 2017, Sweden’s largest housing expo came to Vallastaden. The district continues to grow and develop and when completed, it will have around 4,000 new homes. The district has been developed in a collaboration between the City of Linköping, Linköping University, architectural firms, the business community and residents. The vision is to create a varied urban living environment centred around the residents. Over a period of five years, the first 1,000 homes were built by 40 different actors. Vallastaden is an exemplar of a liveable, sustainable district, with mobility solutions that eliminate the need for car ownership. It provides a showcase for over 1,500 visitors a year from within Sweden and across the globe, who benefit from the lessons learned and overall experiences.
The three districts of Berga, Ryd and Skäggetorp have a high proportion of residents from lower socio-economic backgrounds as well as other challenges. Many live lives that are largely isolated from other socio-economic groups in Linköping. In order to counteract this trend and create more equal conditions across all city districts, special interventions are needed along with broad collaboration that includes a cross-sector approach. Since January 2020, Linköping has introduced as number of interventions to promote equality and integration, as well as safety enhancements and crime prevention measures.
Startup Time is one initiative that has been introduced to enable more people born outside of Sweden to start viable businesses. It is designed for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, but who need a little extra help and financial support to get a business up and running. The initiative includes targeted activities and support for the city’s residents, mainly in the Skäggetorp, Berga and Ryd districts.
LinkStep, another initiative, provides a link between job seekers and the business community. The target group is unemployed residents between 20 and 60 years of age. It provides a tailored offer towards finding employment, including activities such as coaching, lectures, workshops and recruitment meetings.
Linköping consistently ranks highly among the best cities to live in, and in the latest survey conducted in September 2022, 95.6 percent of residents stated that they think the city is a good place to live. In fact, surveys conducted since 2001 have shown that Linköping is one of the top five most attractive cities in Sweden. An important aspect of the city as a good place to live is around feelings of safety. A collaborative project between the public sector, research community and business world, launched in early 2023, is testing new digital solutions that increase safety and a sense of security amongst community members, in a complex public environment. Different solutions are being trialled and evaluated, including developing a greater understanding of how safety-enhancing measures are perceived by the people in the test area. Technologies include an array of sensors that send and receive information via IoT platforms. AI is then used to interpret the data and draw conclusions, which all contributes to an increased understanding and new knowledge.
In the coming decades, the number of people in need of welfare services is expected to increase faster than the working age population. This means that more people will need access to healthcare and social care. Forecasts show that the share of Sweden’s population over 80 will increase by 40 percent in ten years and this will stretch existing services. Given this, it is particularly important to help people maintain good health well into old age, but also to ensure that working age residents who are outside the labour market continue to pursue education and employment.
The city has introduced a project that aims to increase the opportunities for elderly residents to remain in their own homes and live an independent and healthy life, well into old age. This can delay or reduce the need for healthcare and social care. Based on individual conversations with a group of people aged 70 and above, 130 companies were involved in an exercise to propose IoT solutions to meet the needs identified. Nine IoT solutions were chosen which have been installed into two demonstration apartments. A group of around 100 older Linköping residents have also now been offered a package of home safety solutions.
A further innovation that will help address an ageing population is Evikomp, an EU-funded workplace learning model used to train and educate staff in the healthcare and social care sectors. It is designed to develop the competence of individuals, groups and organisations and, led by the City of Linköping as the principal project lead, the model has been rolled out across Östergötland and Region Östergötland, reaching 13,000 users in nearly 600 workplaces.
Find out more about this story here: Innovative Linköping