Kista Science City – Transformation from Industrial Park to World Leading ICT Science Park


Kista Science City represents Europe’s largest Information Communications & Technology (ICT) cluster. It is located in Kista suburb which is only 8 miles from Stockholm city centre. Science City has business and research specialisms in AI & computer science, telecom, space, energy, cybersecurity, semiconductors, defence, and nanotechnology.

Kista Science City is home to more than 1,000 tech companies and global corporations including IBM, Microsoft, Intel and Ericsson – the latter has its global HQ located here. There are over 25,000 people employed on site and 7,000 students based at Stockholm University and KTH, Royal Institute of Technology.


The catalyst for Kista’s developing into a science park was Ericsson the global Swedish owned information and communication technology company. In the early 1970s, the City of Stockholm had limited success in promoting land in Kista for employment use (it has previously been farming land and a military training site) until Ericsson required a new site to facilitate their growth.  From the late 70s, Kista Park was in essence a light industrial zone dominated by Ericsson. Another key Swedish company, ASEA (manufacturers of electrical lighting and generators – now part of ABB) also set up an operation at Kista at about the same time.

Kista employment zone grew as Ericsson encouraged its suppliers to move to the business park which helped in starting to establish Kista as an ICT cluster.  By the 1990s more than 200 companies were located there. Global tech companies followed including: Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle.

Transformation from Industrial Estate to ICT Science Park

The City of Stockholm and Ericsson had a vision to develop Kista Park into a stronger centre of electronic and micro-electronics expertise. This led to both parties establishing the Electrum Foundation, (a private/public government owned development body) in 1985. One of the Foundation’s first priorities was to establish a building to house related research bodies. In 1987, the Institute of Microwave Technology (an affiliation of Royal Institute of Technology) moved into the new Electrum Building. Other research institutes followed, including Acreo (nano and microelectronics and optics) and SICS (human-machine interactions) and the Swedish Defence Research Agency.

The growing profile of Kista with its tech companies and research institutes led the University of Stockholm and KTH (a technical university) to establish a joint institution on-site - the Swedish Institute of Computer Science. KTH delivers educational and research programs in areas including: Integrated Components & Circuits, Electronics and Embedded Systems, and Software Technology & Computer Systems.

To capitalise on these research strengths and create a more balanced base of businesses, the Electrum Foundation established STING - an incubator supporting mainly ICT, internet/media and cleantech start-ups.

Growing the ICT cluster through Smart Cities capabilities

More recently, Kista Science City has further developed its ICT capabilities by establishing urban testbeds and laboratories in the field of Smart Cities technologies. Areas of focus include autonomous vehicles (mainly public transport); intelligent traffic systems and urban air mobility (drones).

New regeneration programme to bring positive economic impacts on the local community

Kista Science Park’s good transport links to Stockholm city centre has made the Park easily accessible for commuters and contributed to its success. Whilst Kista Science City has brought considerable economic benefits to Stockholm City region, these benefits have not been felt in the borough where Kista Science City is located.  There are almost as many workplaces in Kista Science Park as there are inhabitants in the borough - but local unemployment rates are high.

The residential areas of Kista are dominated by low income/educational levels and a population from a diverse ethnic background. The area has faced several challenges including being perceived as being unsafe. Kista has an unattractive built environment of mainly uninspiring 70s and 80s architecture with limited green spaces.

Companies had become reluctant to move their businesses to Kista and rent levels stagnated. To reverse this downward trend, in 2022 five of Sweden's most prominent property owners/developers came together to form an urban development project through the newly established company, Kista Limitless. This represented a joint investment of more than EUR1.94 billion up to 2035, with the aim to turn Kista into an attractive area for residents as well as businesses and investors. The vision was to further develop the area as a creative hub and growth centre and maximise the suburb's potential.

Considerable consultation was undertaken with residents, employees, and students to help ensure that issues and opportunities were taken into consideration in new plans for the area. This is now leading now to the development of: new homes, community properties as well as the renovation of parks and public transport hubs. To date, established developments include an Innovation Park set-up by Ericsson which encompasses tech and games technology and the Kista Mall food hall, a successful food venue representing international cuisines.

Conclusion – consistent private/public partnerships delivering transformation

Kista Science City is an unusual example of a science park in that its catalyst was one company – Ericsson - rather than more typically originating from the presence of a university and research institutes which in this case developed at a later stage in the evolution of the site. The other key element in Kista Science City’s success was a solid partnership and joint vision between Stockholm City government and Ericsson which is still the case today.

Whilst Kista Science City has been a considerable success in positioning Sweden’s ICT capabilities, the positive socio-economic impact of this science park on the local community had not previously been considered. This is now being addressed through strong partnerships between the public and private sector and the local community to ensure that businesses, technology, and local neighbourhoods will all thrive in Kista.


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