SWEDISH ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM

JOHAN EKLUND, CEO OF THE SWEDISH ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM

“For us, the most important thing is to ensure that the research we conduct is of use to society”

The Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum is an independent research foundation that’s driven by the guiding principles of Research, Networking and Debate. The aim is for the forum to be the leading national venue for gathering intelligence for decision-makers, researchers and formers of opinion on economic policy issues relating to aspects such as entrepreneurship and innovation.

FOR BETTER ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL DECISION-MAKING

The idea for the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum came about from a discussion about the ability for researchers to share knowledge with politicians and decision-makers. This idea became reality in 1994, and since then the Entrepreneurship Forum has gone on conducting policy-relevant research and ensure its popularisation and distribution. Johan Eklund, Professor at Blekinge Institute of Technology, has been the CEO of the forum since 2015.

“I’m from a research background myself, I’m a professor of economics. But what really spurs me is ensuring that research is of benefit to society, politicians and decision-makers. This is why the Entrepreneurship Forum is so vital – we provide a link between researchers, society, the business community and politics.”

There are three main areas for the forum’s activities. It initiates, conducts and communicates research relevant to policy regarding entrepreneurship, innovation, running small businesses, renewal and growth; it runs a unique network involving academia, politics and the business community; and it shares knowledge so that informed decisions can be made.

The aim is to be the leading national venue for knowledge-sharing for decision-makers, researchers and formers of opinion on economic policy issues linked with aspects such as entrepreneurship and innovation.

“For us, the most important thing is to ensure that the research we conduct is of use to society. One example is our work related to exclusion in the labour market and self-sufficiency issues, where we can now see – ahead of the 2022 elections – that a number of political parties have taken on board our research and proposals and are using them for policymaking. It’s brilliant to see our work having that kind of specific impact.”

EMPHASIS ON THE LABOUR MARKET

2021 has been an unusual year for the Entrepreneurship Forum, as for many others. Much of their research has focused on how to get Sweden restarted in the wake of the pandemic, with emphasis on increasing the competitiveness of our economy. A number of reports on this issue have been published during the year.

“We have a major matching problem in the Swedish labour market at present, and it is clear that permanent unemployment will remain relatively high even after the pandemic, unless we act. Something is very wrong when we have both a labour shortage and a high level of unemployment. We particularly need to come up with new ways of supporting the growing group of people who are currently far from the labour market so as to reduce economic exclusion among individuals in this group.”

RESEARCH INTO SWEDEN’S COMPETITIVENESS

Now that the pandemic is almost over, Johan Eklund is looking forward to tackling some new issues and taking on research in relevant fields that have been overshadowed over the last couple of years.

“It’s clear to me that we’ll be able to alter our focus now that we’re returning to a more normal routine. Of course, it’ll be wonderful to see whether our efforts on self-sufficiency issues will continue to have an impact on the political debate, but it’s also great to see we’re broadening our perspectives and are able to consider the long-term renewal capability and competitiveness of the Swedish economy. There’s also the impact of recent geopolitical issues and security policies to look at, and how these affect the Swedish economy.

“What’s more, I’m very much looking forward to having fewer digital meetings and seeing all my colleagues and partners in person again.”

Mellby Gård is one of a number of partners to the Entrepreneurship Forum, and has been for many years. Johan can see lots of advantages in the Andersson family being part of the forum.

“The discussions about social issues with Mellby Gård, through Rune and Johan, are really crucial for researchers. This provides us with an indication of which issues are of relevance to the business community. They’re always dedicated, well-informed and interested, and the discussions we’ve held generally result in specific issues that we can take forward – regarding the functioning of the labour market and exclusion from the labour market, for example.”