How can...

Växjö become the Swedish Silicon Valley?

2019/12/11

We sat down with Deputy Mayor Oliver Rosengren to talk about his vision for our city.

Q: Oliver Rosengren, you’ve previously said that Växjö can become the little Silicon Valley of Sweden. How?

Oliver Rosengren: There are two parts to making Växjö a little Silicon Valley, or Silicon Lake, if you want to use the local version. As a city, we need to be attractive for brilliant minds that want to find new solutions in tech. This means that we must have good infrastructure, functioning welfare, and a good labour market so that people want to move here. Having these fundamental parts working is our main task as the municipality.

The other part is the enterprises’ responsibility. I think creating an environment where tech companies meet and innovate together is hard to force, it just happens. Växjö is already a Swedish centre for modern tech, and you can trace some dots. Back in the day, when the tech giant Boss Media went down, lots of people started their own businesses. Today’s tech scene is somewhat of a heritage of Boss Media. So Växjö has great preconditions for becoming even better.

Q: How important is the tech industry for Växjö’s economy?

The strength of a local economy lies in having some really strong economic areas, as well as having a diversity of areas. Växjö and its surroundings has great traditional industries. We have the forestry sector with Södra, we have Volvo, we have Rottne Industries, and so on. These can be seen as the backbone of our economy. But to stay relevant, we also need to have a modern, interesting, and innovative side of the economy. I’d say that the tech industry has become our modern industry.

Q: Politically speaking, what needs to be done so that the tech sector can further flourish in Växjö?

Starting off with the labour force, the important thing is getting the right competences. Together with Volvo and other companies in the GoTech network, we’re working to get more youths into the industrial and technology programmes in upper secondary school. Over the years, every industry figure asks me the same thing: “How we can get more kids into these programmes?” This year, we’re finally seeing results. It’s the first semester where they completely filled the programme, and even needed to add another class! On the university level, I think one of the best things recently was the introduction of the civil engineering programme at Linnaeus University.

Looking abroad, people need to be able to take their competence, intelligence, and innovative minds and come to Sweden. This is where I think Softwerk should have a medal of honour.

We need to make sure that these people aren’t then forced to leave when they have a job, are contributing, and are needed in their companies.

Q: So how can we remove the obstacles for Växjö’s companies seeking to attract foreign experts?

First of all, I know Softwerk has had some struggles with the Migration Agency in the past and I think you did an excellent work trying to get them to understand. It set a precedent in Växjö.

I’d say that the most important obstacle is the uncertainty. If you’re a company using your resources to attract someone, you want to be sure they’ll be able to stay. Companies are helping a lot with for instance language education, another very good Softwerk example. These companies are really putting their heart into this. But from the government and the authorities, they just face uncertainty. I’m proposing a so-called amnesty for working people. That means that foreigners working here will not be kicked out due to some minor paperwork mistake. If we do this, I believe the companies will solve the rest.

Q: Another part of the solution is to increase IT competences here at home. How can we get more Swedish youths interested in coding?

IT needs to be present in schools the way it’s present in society. But I don’t believe putting an iPad in the hands of every student will do this. Tech needs to be used in an educational way. Why does every student learn how to make a cushion, but not how to program? Why do they all learn how to saw, but not how an application works? We teach traditional crafts, and we should also teach modern craftsmanship, namely programming. I think this should be a mandatory course in elementary school because it’s something everyone needs to understand.

Q: What is the role of Linnaeus University in this?

Overall in Sweden, we’re quite bad at forging connections between research and companies. Also in this regard, Softwerk is a very good example. You’re the exception, since you have that connection with research. I would love to see more companies streaming out from the university. Overall, I want to see more partnerships between the Linnaeus University, schools, and companies.

Q: Deputy Mayor, what’s your pitch to foreign experts thinking about coming to Växjö?

The thing with Växjö is that we never give up, we thrive. These are classical Smålandian values. And if a person is thinking about leaving their country to go somewhere abroad to work, I’d say that sounds like a thriving person. In that regard, I think Växjö would fit very well!

Science at its best

Softwerk playing a major role in saving the swedish forest.

2019/12/09

A summary of the interview with our CEO Björn Lundsten published by Växjö’s newspaper Smålandsposten.

The spruce bark beetles have been damaging over 10 million cubic meters of the swedish forest over the past two years. Hopefully, a new project based in Växjö will be the solution to stop this spread.

The goal of this project is to develop a digital tool to predict future attacks of spruce bark beetles through machine learning. The basis is to measure data through land and climate conditions at the plant site, to measure rainfall and temperature, and also the nature of the trees in the areas that have been attacked.

Björn Lundsten explains that we will train the system to provide prognostics for the future. If one follows the patterns on how spruce bark beetles have been moving the past years and registers under what conditions they prevail, we can predict in which locations the risk is higher.

So far, Softwerk is in a pre-project phase together with scientists from several institutions within Linnaeus University and the Skogsstyrelse (Forest Board). From Softwerk’s point of view, we can tell you that the interesting part has just begun and there is more to come.

Read more about the article through this link, http://www.smp.se/vaxjo/vaxjoinitiativ-kan-stoppa-granbarkborren/

From Shenyang to Växjö

An interview with Nils Sun, Softwerk Java developer

2019/11/21

“Programming is like playing a video game: you finish one level, and then you’re on to the next one.”

Hey Nils! What’s your story?

Nils Sun: In China, I studied a Bachelor’s of Computer Science and Technology, and a Master of Computer Application at Northeastern University. After I graduated, I got a job in a state-owned telecom company, where I worked for nearly 10 years as a project manager. I had the chance to work with lots of developers which got me interested in code, especially Java code. After my main project came to an end I wanted a new challenge, and began thinking about working in an international company. 

But I realised that there were two main obstacles in my way: lacking language and programming skills. So I quit my job and moved to Växjö, Sweden. At Linnaeus University, I studied software technology and programming and started improving these two skills.

How did you start working at Softwerk?

I was lucky to get to know one of the founders, Welf Löwe, during a one-week work exchange program to Germany. And the other founder, Rüdiger Lincke, was the teacher of my last course at Linnaeus University, namely software quality. After the course, he suggested I do an internship at Softwerk.

To be honest, when I started my internship I was a bit nervous about my coding abilities. At the time I didn’t have much confidence. But the co-workers were very kind and in a way my internship felt like a continuation of my university studies. It was a very good environment. I compensated my somewhat lacking skills with working really hard and after my internship, I was offered a job.

What’s your position at Softwerk now?

I’ve been working here as a software developer for three years now. My main focus is Java developing, and I’ve worked on a couple of interesting projects, such as Danfoss, AIMO, and Fortnox. I’m happy to be at a stage in my career where I can experience the whole software cycle. 

What’s an average day at the office like?

If I were to define Softwerk in three words, they’d be: optimistic, passionate, patient. Here, people get along like friends. As opposed to Chinese companies, Softwerk has a flat hierarchy. The bosses are kind and very patient and I feel like I’m free to ask anything. If there’s a problem, people will take the time to make sure you understand – and if there’s a language barrier they will even draw it out on the whiteboard!

The company also gives us lots of space to improve our skills. One example is when we organised seminars where each employee gave a lecture about a field they’re experts in. Softwerk also helps us foreign employees with visa applications, and offers Swedish language courses.

Personally, I feel grateful, because the company really has given me a lot. Not only have I improved my English and programming skills, but I also feel I’m more sociable than before.  I’ve improved my social skills through all kinds of group activities. For instance, the team has gone canoeing together, and we’ve gone on trips to Alicante and Macedonia. 

What’s the best thing about working at Softwerk?

The best thing for me is I just get more and more interested in my job. I think programming is like playing a video game, you finish one level, and then you’re on to the next one. I like problem solving, and that’s what I get to do every day: I work with cross-application platforms, checking the interface, log, and analysing problems. I think this is where I really can exert my strong abilities.

Beyond that, I like our office environment. Softwerk is concerned with its employees and the company adds new features to the office according to our demands. We now have many ways to entertain ourselves on Friday evenings; with a dart board, PS4, VR helmet, pullup bar, and tap beer. I think this brings us together as a team. It’s a special culture. 

Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m very happy here, and feel like I’m working among friends. In the future, I’d like to apply the techniques I learned from my projects to other projects and to tackle new challenges. I also want to improve my developing skills. My aim is to become an architect, to really grasp the software framework. Ideally, I’d be responsible for a new project as scrum master. 

And speak Swedish fluently. [laughs]