Creating Smarter and More Sustainable Cities: The Swedish Blueprint

By Isabel Serna Published on May. 27, 2023

Imagine a world where cities are like living organisms, constantly adapting and evolving to meet the needs of their citizens. That's the future we're striving for as we face environmental challenges and population growth. To thrive in this digitalized world, countries must invest in innovative and sustainable solutions to make our cities smarter, greener, and more sustainable. After all, the future of our world depends on it.

Fortunately, many countries are already taking action to create smart sustainable cities by investing in sustainable innovation and promoting sustainable practices such as remote or hybrid work to improve the quality of life for their people - with Sweden leading the charge.

The Swedish blueprint


According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Sweden has set ambitious sustainability goals, such as becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2045 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85%.

The Scandinavian country implemented many sustainability initiatives, such as investing in renewable energy, promoting intelligent automation, shared mobility, and sustainable transportation alternatives like electric vehicles and bicycles. Sweden has also taxed carbon emissions, encouraging people and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints.

But there is one city in particular, the city of Gothenburg, that is an example of how innovation and sustainable practices can transform the way we live in cities.

Gothenburg: Sweden’s leading innovation hub

Gothenburg's focus on sustainability and holistic approach to smart growth has created a culture of innovation in the city. It has also attracted many startups and businesses working towards creating more sustainable cities.

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The city's sustainable practices are focused primarily on smart mobility solutions and waste management. Its innovative waste management system reduces waste through circular economy practices, including recycling, composting, material reuse, and waste separation.

Gothenburg has a waste-to-energy plant that generates electricity and provides district heating through the incineration of non-recyclable waste, benefiting thousands of households with sustainable and reliable heat sources. With a recycling rate of around 50%, Gothenburg's waste management system dramatically reduces landfill waste.

Now, let's talk about mobility. With nearly 40% of the city's carbon footprint, Gothenburg's first priority is reducing urban transportation emissions.


The new era of mobility

With limited resources, climate change, and a growing population in urban areas, Gothenburg is taking the lead in reducing transportation emissions, responsible for nearly 40% of the city's carbon footprint. The city invests in sustainable transportation options such as tramways, electric buses, car-sharing services, and bike lanes. The city also offers affordable and efficient public transportation alternatives to encourage people to leave their cars at home and decrease traffic and pollution.

In addition, Gothenburg has developed one of the most notable initiatives: the ElectriCity project, a collaborative effort between the automotive industry, researchers, and citizens to create improve traffic management, road safety, and sustainability overall. Gothenburg's commitment to sustainable mobility makes it a best-practice example for cities worldwide, capable of creating healthier and more livable cities.

Plug and Play in Gothenburg

But what else makes Gothenburg so unique? The startup ecosystem in the city of Gothenburg focuses its innovative power on sustainability and economic growth. Many innovative Swedish startups focus on developing new technologies, such as data-driven intelligent transport systems or autonomous vehicles, to achieve a sustainable future.

One of the city's biggest strengths is its tech industry. Gothenburg fosters Volvo's central car production plants, keeping them at the forefront of innovation and R&D. This is one of many reasons Plug and Play expanded into the city, encouraging innovative Swedish startups to go global.

“We’re very pleased to team up with Volvo Cars and open the doors to this new innovation platform in Gothenburg,” says Saeed Amidi, Founder and CEO of Plug and Play ”The location, right at the center of events and literally packed with tech-savvy companies and automotive heritage, is no coincidence, and we're confident it will become an innovation powerhouse for startups and corporates.”

We are an innovation platform that provides business innovation services and venture capital investment opportunities. We connect startups with companies, providing accelerator programs, mentorship, and resources to help startups thrive.

Furthermore, we also offer investment opportunities through our venture capital arm, investing in early-stage startups across various industries, including IoT and sustainability. In addition, we host events and networking opportunities to bring together startups, corporations, and investors.

Smart cities Sweden: Startups driving change


zenseact, a technology company based in Sweden and China, is dedicated to developing advanced systems and services for autonomous vehicles.

The company aspires to achieve zero accidents. Whether the driver controls the vehicle or it's a self-driving car, zenseact is dedicated to preserving lives through its highly adaptable ADAS/AD software platform.

PC Group.001

PowerCell, a by-product of AB Volvo, has been a leader in fuel cell technology since its founding in 2008. Since then, the company has developed many alternatives to help users reduce their carbon footprint and harmful emissions.

PowerCell offers an emission-free energy system based on innovative fuel cells and advanced technology. The company develops and produces high-density fuel cell stacks and systems for stationary, marine, off-road, and on-road applications, all powered by pure hydrogen. PowerCell’s products generate electricity and heat without emissions other than water, providing customers with zero-emission energy solutions.


Peafowl Solar Power, a spin-out from Uppsala University in Sweden, has made a big step forward in solar power technology by developing a transparent solar cell.

This innovative solution enables the next generation of intelligent buildings and self-powered IoT devices to operate sustainably and efficiently.

With its easy-to-integrate technology, Peafowl Solar Power makes smart devices self-sustaining, more affordable, and immune to the toxicity of traditional batteries. By eliminating the need for expensive batteries, the company facilitates the connectivity and integration of IoT and other smart devices without compromising aesthetics or sustainability.

What can we learn from Sweden?

Creating smarter, greener, and more sustainable cities is crucial for a better future. Gothenburg's success in creating a sustainable city shows the importance of innovation and collaboration. Through investing in sustainable mobility, smart infrastructure, comprehensive planning, and attracting innovative startups and businesses, cities can reduce their carbon footprint and improve the quality of life for their citizens.

The future of sustainable cities is bright; Sweden's approach to sustainability is a blueprint for other cities worldwide to follow and create a cleaner and better future for us all.

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