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How Malmö University is creating the next generation of entrepreneurs

With more than seven start-ups created every day, there’s no denying that Malmö is one of Europe's most important innovation hubs. A leading tech-investor says he knows why.

How Malmö University is creating the next generation of entrepreneurs
Photo: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

Honorary doctor at Malmö University, Hampus Jakobsson is a big name in the Swedish start-up scene. After co-founding a business that was sold to Blackberry for millions, he has invested in over eighty companies and runs several start-up incubators in Malmö. When it comes to entrepreneurship, he says, Malmö is where it’s at.

“Being close to the wharf, Malmö was never a trade city — it was where things got built. That means people here got really good at getting things done. This left-leaning way of looking at workers and sharing wealth, combined a tradition of flat hierarchies and the spirit of collaboration, is key to Malmö’s success.

Learn more about studying at Malmö University

“The thing I love about Malmö is that if you say ‘I want to try this, I want to see if this works’, people say, ‘Why are you talking about it? Let’s just do it’. The focus is less on making money and more on experimentation and creativity.”  

Jakobsson is all about experimentation. With an ever-expanding list of interests ranging from artificial intelligence to moral philosophy to gut biome, he gives off the impression that there is no time to lose.

“I am a strong believer in running experiments and think that the only way to solve problems is to just try. That’s why universities have amazing value. Universities are like playgrounds where testing things out is part of your tenure — there’s a great freedom in that.”

What’s more, he says, getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to get rid of complacency.

Photo: Malmö University

“I encourage everyone to stay curious and for god’s sake never become complacent. I think the best way to do that is to travel, engage with the community and broaden your horizons. Choosing to go get an education elsewhere means you are motivated and ambitious — it shows that you fought for what you wanted. That’s also one of the reasons why I am always interested in hiring expats.”

Jakobsson himself was recently awarded an honorary doctorate at Malmö University, and also collaborates with Drivhuset, the University’s centre for student innovation. Kim Gerlach, one of Drivhuset’s business developers, says that Malmö’s “thriving start-up ecosystem” is one of the reasons that she decided to study and stay in the city.

“After graduating from the master’s programme in Leadership for Sustainability, I landed this job helping students to kick-start their ideas. I wanted to stay in Malmö because of the focus on social innovation — entrepreneurship that helps solve social problems. The idea of social innovation and sustainability is understood here in a way that I don’t experience elsewhere.

Learn more about studying at Malmö University

“At Drivhuset we offer Malmö University students tools like one-to-one coaching, workshops, and the chance to share ideas with like-minded people. There is a supportive network in Malmö and we see that students really value this sense of community. Even if you’re not interested in creating the next billion-dollar start-up, I think entrepreneurial skillsets like problem solving and self-reflection are thinking patterns that help you develop as a person.”

Like Jakobsson, she says it’s all about taking the plunge.

“My advice to students is to have confidence that their idea is valid and not just a dream. Even if it’s just a seed, that’s where it starts. By working on it together we can make it grow.”

Want to be your own boss? Want to learn more about innovation and social change? Malmö offers English-taught master’s programmes in Interaction Design, Leadership for Sustainability, Computer Science and Media Technology, among others. Find a full list of programmes and courses here.

This article is sponsored by Malmö University

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PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: Will Swedish housing prices plummet as interest rates rise?

The Swedish financial supervisory authority warned on Wednesday that rising interest rates could lead to house prices falling "quite sharply". How likely is it that this will happen?

EXPLAINED: Will Swedish housing prices plummet as interest rates rise?

What financial circumstances might make it difficult for borrowers to repay loans?

With an increase in the cost of living, including rising interest rates and rising electricity prices, there are plenty of circumstances that may make it difficult for borrowers – especially those holding large debts in relation to their income – to repay their mortgages.

Households with large debts are therefore more sensitive to an increase in interest rates, according to the Swedish financial supervisory authority, known in Swedish as Finansinspektionen (FI).

The agency published its annual Swedish Mortgage Market report on Wednesday.

“Large debts also mean a higher sensitivity if you were to suffer unemployment during an extensive recession,” said Henrik Braconier, the authority’s chief economist.

Other factors that could stretch borrowers’ finances include rising energy prices, higher food prices, and growing inflation.

“Apples, oranges, tomatoes have gone up by 30 percent,” said Américo Fernández, a household economist at SEB. “Wheat is coming from Ukraine and it’s getting harder and harder to get hold of.”

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Will homeowners become unable to repay their mortgage loans?

Not according to Fernández.

“One of the last things Swedish households will fail to make their payments on is their mortgage and their houses,” he said. “They would rather decrease their spending on vacations abroad, or restaurants.”

The FI report noted that most new mortgages include margins that allow for fluctuations in the borrower’s finances. This means that mortgage holders have a cushion that allows them to handle financial changes.

“Our stress test shows that they can handle increases in the interest rate and also loss of income,” said Magnus Karlsson, FI’s director of macroanalysis. “New mortgages have margins in them calculating discretionary income, and will be able to absorb increases in interest rates and loss of income.”

SEB foresees an interest rise of up to three percent over the next two years, Fernández said,an increase that can be absorbed by most households.

Both Fernández and Karlsson agreed that if homeowners have to cut back on spending, those cuts will not come from debt repayment, but from their disposable income – the money they might ordinarily spend on entertainment, eating out, or travelling.

So while household spending may have to change, financial stability is not at stake for most households.

What’s going on with the housing market?

Right now, a record number of mortgage-holders have loans that are worth more than 4.5 times their income. This year, more than 14 percent of new mortgagors took on such large loans, compared to 6.3 percent last year.

A “low interest rate, increase in housing prices, increase in disposable real income and a housing market that is not functioning well” are all factors in the large debts that homeowners have incurred today, Karlsson argued.

Fernández noted that there is an imbalance between the low supply of housing and the high demand for housing, which is in part responsible for the high housing prices we see today.

He said a decrease in price of a few percentage points would not be surprising: “We’re coming from two years of exaggerated prices.”

Will housing prices begin to decrease after two years of increasing prices?

Calculations for three different scenarios tested by FI show that housing prices will decrease, Karlsson said.

While the agency does not predict housing prices, its report shows that under three different scenarios – the first an increase in mortgage interest rate, the second an increase in energy prices, and the third a combination of the first two with a reversal to pre-pandemic housing preferences – prices will decrease.

The Local Sweden reported last year about increasing housing costs in Sweden, spurred on in part by a desire for bigger homes further away from urban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernández called the two years of increasing housing costs “surprising.”

“10-12 percent two years in a row, that’s historical in these uncertain times,” he said, noting that prices were still increasing in figures for March this year.

What sorts of housing will see the largest price decrease?

The FI report also included various scenarios of how the price of different types of housing may fluctuate based on changes in the interest rate.

One scenario assumed a 1 percent increase in interest rates this year and a 0.5 percent increase next year, and predicted that while the price of apartments owned in a cooperative – called bostadsrätter – would fall only slightly, the price of detached houses would fall by 10 percent.

Another calculation that accounted for rising electricity prices and a decline in new housing purchases found that the price of bostadsrätter and detached houses risked falling by an average of 30 percent.

Is there a plan to let borrowers end their mortgage terms early?

“We believe it needs to be simpler and more inexpensive for households to repay their mortgages early,” FI Director General Erik Thedéen is quoted as saying in a press release published by the agency on Wednesday.

To that end, Thedéen said at a press conference that the agency had sent a request to the government to change the calculation model for how banks are compensated when mortgages are terminated early.

“When you terminate a loan agreement and the bank incurs costs, it must be reimbursed,” Thedéen said. “But at present the banks are overcompensated, that is what our calculations show. If the government follows our line and changes the model and follows our line, then the banks must simply adapt.”

When asked about the likelihood of this request being granted, FI recommended reaching out to the Ministry of Justice for comment.

What does this mean for foreigners in Sweden?

If you’re already a mortgage holder, then as Karlsson and Fernández assured, mortgage calculations include a cushion that allow for changes in your financial circumstances.

If homeownership is in your future, housing prices may begin to decrease in the near future, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your local real estate listings.

By Shandana Mufti

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