East Sweden Region has 430,000 inhabitants and covers an area of around 10,000 km2. The region is the fourth largest in Sweden, and is located two hours south of Stockholm, three hours northeast of Gothenburg and three hours north of Malmö.
The population density is 40 inhabitants per km2, with a concentration of inhabitants in the central areas. The northern and southern areas are less densely populated. The major cities, Linköping and Norrköping, have continued to grow, while the population in the surrounding areas is decreasing. The age structure of the region corresponds to the nation as a whole, facing the same demographic challenges as the rest of Sweden.
Fourth city region
Norrköping and Linköping, with their surrounding smaller towns and villages, are in the process of developing into one coherent, integrated urban region – Sweden’s fourth city region. The structure of the region – with large cities and small towns, surrounded by countryside, all within a relatively compact area – provides numerous opportunities for living within reasonable commuting time from many workplaces.
The Swedish public sector has three levels of government: national, regional and local. At local level, the region consists of 13 local authorities. The regional level includes three different authorities: the County Administrative Board, which is the national government's representative office in the region and also a supervisory authority; the County Council, which is responsible for health and medical care in the region; and the Regional Council, which is in charge of regional development issues, with political representation from the local authorities and the County Council.
Labour market and business sectors
The labour market benefits from the fact that the local economies of Linköping and Norrköping complement each other. Together, the two cities contribute to a large number of different lines of business in the region.
The East Sweden Region is becoming a single labour market with extensive commuting to the central parts of the region, also from surrounding regions. The region has well-developed support for business start-ups and new enterprises. There are approximately 40,000 companies in the region, within more than 540 different business sectors.
The region possesses extensive and advanced technical know-how in several industries, such as aviation and energy technology. There are a large number of spin-offs from Linköping University in terms of R&D-intensive companies. A large knowledge base, access to a well-educated workforce, and strong existing and evolving development environments for knowledge-based companies.
The major cities Linköping and Norrköping have been identified as having worldleading competence in the following profile areas:
Both geographical and occupational mobility on the labour market is increasing, but there is still a lack of skilled labour in some industrial areas. Labour shortages combined with a large number of retirements is a future challenge to trade and industry. Generation change among the region's large number of entrepreneurs and executives is also a challenge.
Infrastructure and communications
Infrastructure is a key issue for the East Sweden Region in order to grow, attract new companies and meet labour market demands for skilled people.
The region has a well diversified infrastructure when it comes to roads, rail links, airports, ports and the IT network. The physical layout and relative compactness of the region enables good transport and communication solutions. However, the main line rail capacity to the Stockholm region needs to be developed. The planned high speed railway – the Eastern Link – is important for the future growth of the East Sweden Region.
The region's cultural infrastructure is well developed, with established institutions, experienced cultural workers, excellent facilities and interesting historical sites. The institutions stand for confidence and continuity and help ensure that cultural production follows in the footsteps of tradition.
There is also a great interest in the region for developing cultural life outside the institutions. The region was the first in Sweden to study the creative industry – an initiative which has received much attention both at home and abroad. The creative industry has been recognised as a key driver of the knowledge economy and includes sectors such as media/digital, art/design, cultural heritage, and tourism/recreational/sports.
Linköping University, one of Sweden's larger academic institutions, plays an important role in the East Sweden region. The university is renowned for its innovative educational spirit and its long-standing tradition of interdisciplinary studies and research.
The university has four faculties and more than 27,000 students. More than 1,500 foreign students attend courses at the university each year. Besides the growing number of international students, over 100 guest researchers per year take advantage of the stimulating research environment at Linköping University. However, young people from the region do not attend higher education to the same extent as in comparable regions. Overall, the educational level in the region is lower than in other Swedish regions that are successful within the knowledge economy. Skills levels in general need to be raised, and vocational training must be improved. There is a strong need for regional coordination when it comes to matching labour market requirements. This is one of the main challenges for the East Sweden Region.