Innovation Around the World

Digital music service Spotify and the popular electronic games Minecraft and Candy Crush Saga all originated in Sweden. The country is home to some of the world’s largest technology companies and is second only to Silicon Valley for tech giants.1

Sweden provides free health care, free higher education and outstanding infrastructure with the third-fastest internet speeds in the world. Income taxes are high, reaching 60 percent in some cases, but there are experts who believe Swedes enjoy mutual trust with their government — a recognition that it will spend their tax dollars wisely. Furthermore, the social “safety net” of health care and support for small businesses appears to spur a high rate of new entrepreneurs.2

The environment in Sweden is certainly different from the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we can’t replicate some of its more successful elements. On an individual level, for example, having a financial “safety net” may allow us to take more risks — for example, starting a business — which can potentially provide more financial opportunity but also a higher sense of purpose and satisfaction. These components can help each of us live a more fulfilling lifestyle, both before and during retirement. If you’d like help creating a financial strategy designed to put you on the path to meeting your financial goals, please give us a call.

While Sweden is a leader in IT startups, it ranks 7th in the World Economic Forum’s 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report for the most innovative economies. Countries ranked in the top six are: Switzerland, U.S., Israel, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. Japan, Singapore and Denmark round out the top 10.3

There is a big reason that innovation is important at this juncture in history — demographics. We often hear about the “graying” of America, but the situation is further along in Europe.4 With more seniors and fewer people in the workforce, countries may feel a strain on health care systems, pensions and the overall economy.5

Because the aging population is a global issue, several countries are working on innovations to help tackle the problem. For example, China is leading the charge in precision medicine. This is the discipline of screening a person’s genes, living environment and lifestyle factors to help determine which type of drugs and treatment options would work best for their medical conditions.6

Japan, the oldest society in the world, is tackling its demographic challenge in a variety of ways, including the development of robots to help its aging population. For example, researchers have created robots that can help calm dementia patients and aid caregivers.7


1John McKenna. World Economic Forum. Oct. 12, 2017. “Why does Sweden produce so many startups?” Accessed Nov. 13, 2017. 
2Ibid
3Alex Gray. World Economic Forum. Oct. 11, 2017. “These are the 10 most innovative countries in the world.” Accessed Nov. 13, 2017. 
4Jeff Desjardins. Business Insider. Nov. 8, 2017. “The populations of Europe and the Americas are aging at an incredibly rapid rate” Accessed Oct. 27, 2017. 
5H.S. Borji. Investopedia. July 25, 2016. “4 Global Economic Issues of an Aging Population” Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.
6Genya Dana. World Economic Forum. Nov. 2, 2017. “3 ways China is leading the way in precision medicine.” Accessed Nov. 13, 2017. 
7Iain Marlow. The Globe and Mail. Nov. 12, 2017. “Japan’s Bold Steps.” Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.