Sweden’s Innovation Bridge Sets Up “Soft Landing” in San Diego

3/31/09

A Swedish networking organization that promotes innovation and university startup companies said today it is establishing a beachhead in San Diego to serve as a “soft landing” for Swedish technology companies looking for U.S. partners.

It is the first move overseas for Sweden’s Innovationsbro, or “Innovation Bridge,” which is affiliated with Linköping University and is supported by Vinnova, a government technology funding agency. San Diego was chosen above other possible U.S. sites because of the “high knowledge content” and “very interesting development” in the area, according to Innovationsbro director Peter Strömbäck.

Strömbäck says that by establishing a physical presence in the United States for its Acceleratus program, the group intends to help Swedish growth companies that have a great potential for expanding globally. “It’s not an incubator, it’s a soft-landing office”, Strömbäck says in Sweden’s Ny Teknik magazine. “The companies inside the incubator system in Sweden have an overwhelming challenge in getting access to the international market at a suitable time. This will give them an opportunity to get help and support locally when they establish themselves there.”

The San Diego site is expected to host representatives of Swedish technology companies for as long as a year, said Mary Walshok, a UC San Diego associate vice chancellor who serves on the Acceleratus advisory board. Walshok, who helped establish Connect, the San Diego technology networking group, has strong ties with Sweden and received the country’s Royal Order of the Polar Star for her significant contributions to the development of a Connect organization in Sweden.

Walshok said Acceleratus will be managed in San Diego by Tomas Hagenfeldt of Lead, which incubates technology startups in Sweden. The “USA is by its nature a very interesting market for Swedish start-ups,” Hagenfeldt said. “Not only for its size but also culturally and linguistically, and the industrial infrastructure is very similar to Sweden.”

[Xconomy San Diego Editor Bruce V. Bigelow contributed to this report]

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