Month: December 2023

Uppsala Start-Ups and Entrepreneurial Scene – By: Yasmin

Hello! This is Yasmin from Indonesia. I am a Master of Entrepreneurship (1 year program) student at Uppsala University. This time I would like to share some interesting valuable insights about Uppsala’s open innovation ecosystem that supports future entrepreneurs or may inspire your future career after graduation or while your study! This information is gathered through my course experience and some personal research.

During my studies I learn so much about entrepreneurship from theory down to practical things. Things that you may expected from an Entrepreneurship program such as Identifying opportunities, create business plan, pitching ideas, etc. But the reality is, there’s so much more than what is teached in the class and it’s only possible by doing and put things into practice. Meaning, actually try to run a real business.

However, I personally not someone who aspire to become an entrepreneur (yet). But I always wanted to help more startups or any kind of corporation to succeed in the future by keep being innovative and have access to open innovation. The truth is, a business cannot run properly only by business/economy major related people. At some point, it needs diversification from other various disciplines to make it possible. Unfortunately, not everyone has an access to learn how to build a business to get confident in starting something. 

Which is why I feel like the least I can do is to share this knowledge about Uppsala entrepreneurial scene in order to bring more awareness to more variety of people who may get inspired to build or contribute to something in the future.

As we all know Sweden has a long history of innovation which is also supported by the government and the academic scene. One of them is via start-up investment and support programs in many ways. You may have heard about start-up companies and some inspiring stories of them from ground zero to success, having great vision and solving problems to make the world a better place with their innovation and solutions. You may think that it’s only for ‘business/ entrepreneur major oriented people’. Well, the truth is, everyone needs everyone from various backgrounds to chip in and contribute to make things work. It’s only right to at least be aware of how open innovation works (in this case in Uppsala), see where you may be able to contribute or support, and share with more people who may get inspired to step further in building their start-up.

A start-up does not always have to come up with a revolutionary innovation. Anything that solves a problem or creates a possible demand in the future is acceptable. Moreover, Uppsala’s start-up support ecosystem is well-integrated. They exist to help more businesses to grow and succeed. Some of them even specialize in sustainability matters. Here are some institutions in Uppsala that will accompany a start-up from ideation down to growth, funding stages, and so on. Some of them are fully run by universities or the government, some are also partially run and funded by the private sector and venture capital as illustrated in this picture:

Source: Presentation from ALMI

The closest institution you can access anytime as Uppsala student for free is UU Innovation. They are fully provided by the University to support any student in exploring possibilities of building their own business or innovation. They provide business coaching and networks for future early funding and free grants to test out ideas. If your idea of a product requires some specific machinery, tools, or further research to build your prototype, it’s the best place to ask for further access and recommendations. It could also help you to reach out some of Uppsala researchers who may be interested in your business ideas. They have gathering events like networking parties and business idea workshops to inspire more students in their entrepreneurial journey!

Same purpose as UU Innovation focusing on early-stage startup from Ideation phase down to early pre seed-funding. You can book a business coaching or consultation for free as a student. They also have their own affordable open-office space near the central station. Drivhuset operates in a wider region of Uppsala meaning that you may encounter a broader network of people and resources outside Uppsala University and not just students. It’s a great way to understand how Uppsala and Sweden’s open innovation works for a beginner and get inspired to start your own business.

What makes them unique is, that they have a program called “Team-Up” for start-ups to showcase their business to the people and do some kind of talent matchmaking. It’s like a job fair but for start-ups! If you already have a business and looking for a talent, you can also reach them. Moreover, they have a regular monthly event called “Breakfast Club” where everyone can mingle, network, and listen to one inspiring entrepreneur sharing their stories.

Once you are looking to scale your business further, ALMI is one place to go. It is 100 percent owned by the Swedish state. They provide business development consultation, financing, and access to bigger funding of venture capital and a broader network across Sweden and the Nordics. This applies to businesses in the start-up phase as well as established companies with high growth potential and a scalable business concept that seeks improvement.

My Experience on Team Up Event by Drivhuset, November 2023

I attended Drivhuset Team-Up 2023 event last November and there were a lot of start-ups from digital services, medical tech, blockchain, and even non-digital startups that work on sustainable products and services. It’s a good way to understand more about the company and look for any job opportunities in an early start-up if that interests you.

Some insights that I got from the event: Some start-ups do not openly post their opening in popular job posting (such as Linked In, Glassdoor, The Hub, etc). The reason being is that many of them are looking for talent based in Uppsala and close to the network itself as most of them are founded in Uppsala and prefer hybrid/ offline work arrangements. Since many of them are early-stage startups that recently got funded and are ready to scale their business further, they are still around less than 10 employees on average. I could ask questions and chat directly with the start-up founders, exchange ideas and contact in this event which is a super valuable experience. 

The most popular job openings are software engineers as many of the start-ups are still in the product enhancement phase on their platform or mobile application. Another popular opening is digital marketing and business development whether it’s for internship, part-time, or even full-time. But don’t be bummed if you don’t find a suitable role, sometimes you can also propose a new role suitable for your preferred job role for internship perhaps as everything is usually in an open discussion manner. Some interesting start-ups are also looking for Master thesis student to help their business research in exchange for master’s thesis topics and credit. These types of openings are usually for high-innovation tech startups that looking for more researchers in various fields of expertise like medicine, mechanical engineering, machine learning, and more! What is more astonishing is that some start-ups even looking for a potential C-level manager and co-founder in exchange for future shares and stock options for those who are interested.


The opportunities are endless needless to say. I was just as surprised that Uppsala has this kind of supportive ecosystem which we can benefit as students by being involved and getting to know more about it in a very accessible way. You don’t necessarily have the ambition to be a start-up founder yourself to get involved. But I think it’s the best way to understand how open innovation works in Uppsala and Sweden in general and see if you can contribute and learn more from them outside your class while you study in Uppsala.

Here are things to be remembered:

  • If you don’t have an Idea but want to be an entrepreneur at some point? Discuss with them!
  • If you have an Idea but don’t know how to realize it? Ask them!
  • Interested to work or contribute to a start-up? Expand your network and reach them!
  • Don’t have any business background to run a company? Don’t be afraid, they can help and teach you from scratch!
  • Don’t have any capital to test your idea and run your business? You can get access, grants, and funding there!
  • Don’t have a suitable partner or team to run your business together? Find your future colleague there!
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to any of them about your ideas! No ideas are stupid.

I hope this blog inspires you to explore more about the entrepreneurial scene in Uppsala and Sweden in general! Cheers


4, 5, 6 – Differences in grading systems and grades – By: Sofía

Before arriving in Sweden, I was aware of the differences in the educational and grading systems. During the introductory seminars, current international students shared their journeys of adapting to the Swedish system. I was surprised by the number of international students who faced challenges and even failed in their initial periods. Frankly, I was nervous that I might encounter a similar situation.

Grading scale at Uppsala University

In Mexico, many of us grow up with this fear of failure, leading young students to mainly focus on memorization rather than truly understanding concepts. Progressing from one grade to another often involves memorizing concepts that tend to fade over time. Let me be clear—I am grateful for the education I received. Mexico has great universities and amazing teachers who inspired me with their passion and love for science. However, my experiences in Sweden have unveiled a contrasting approach: here, the emphasis is on genuine learning, placing the focus on individuals to take responsibility for their learning journey rather than solely on the grade received in an exam. Each faculty at Uppsala University decides on their own grading scale. My programme in Uppsala has the grading system is G 3 (passed), 4, 5, or U (fail). Most of the time, achieving a 3 requires getting 50% or more of the points correct in the exam. For a 4, it’s between 70-85, and for a 5, it’s 86-100. Receiving a ‘U’ allows a chance for a retake without the need to retake the entire course or pay extra fees. The concept of retakes might be negatively viewed in Mexico, often accompanied by additional fees and limitations on achieving a grade higher than 70, which is the passing grade in Mexico.

My first exams

My first exams were last October, and I have now received all the grades from them. But before I share how it went, let me describe how the exams were. I took three courses during my initial period as a new Uppsala master student. They were demanding, and I soon realized the necessity of investing considerable time in studying for them. I started studying a month in advance. While exams in Mexico are usually one or two hours long, realizing that exams here spanned five hours left me in a panic. The exam halls are approximately 30 minutes away from the city center by bus, so I had to wake up very early and catch the bus to get there. The exam halls are spacious rooms filled with computers, creating an intimidating atmosphere, and you often take the exam alongside students from different programs. There’s a bathroom available, and you can access it as many times as needed. Additionally, you’re allowed to bring your own food, water, coffee, or any other necessary items. Your phone and belongings remain outside in lockers. Initially, I doubted my ability to remain focused and seated for the full five hours, but the state of stress and adrenaline made time fly by.

Is passing enough?

I passed all my exams, but upon receiving my grades, I experienced mixed feelings. Back home, achieving a good grade is the result of one’s effort, but here, despite pushing myself hard, I barely passed or managed to get a 4 (75-85). It felt like settling for just passing. When I shared my feelings with my Swedish classmates, they all tried to explain that in Sweden, passing is more than sufficient. It took the reassurance of the tenth person to finally calm me down. I needed that reminder of how challenging it is to be an international student—learning in a different language, in a different system, far from home, and in my case, studying completely new topics from what I pursued during my bachelor’s degree. I needed to remind myself to be kind to myself and to prioritize genuine understanding and finding my path for future work.

Enjoy learning!

Consequently, I’ve decided to stop comparing myself with others, to adjust my goals, and focus on a different type of learning—a journey where I embrace the process and enjoy learning, rather than pressuring myself for an elusive perfect score (a ‘5’). I’m now concentrating on relishing the experience of pursuing my master’s at a remarkable university in the beautiful city of Uppsala.

My advice for you is to remember that you’re doing fine. Focus on your goals, take deep breaths, and appreciate the process while prioritizing your mental health. A grade doesn’t define your worth or capability.

FRITIDSBANKEN (as Swedish as kanelbullar) – By: Artur

Around the end of November, winter weather truly starts to kick in around Uppsala. The nights are long, the days are short, it gets colder, more icy, and more snowy. Sounds like a perfect recipe for the “winter blues” to hit you, right? Not on Sweden’s watch!

As you probably know, the Swedes really enjoy exercising. The gyms are always full, and there are always people running, cycling or Nordic walking, which is something I was introduced to when I moved here. The Swedes are also known for their love of being outdoors: hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, they do it all with a little help from Allemansrätten. But most of these activities require some sort of specific equipment which can be very pricey sometimes. So what do you do if you just moved here, if you didn’t bring your gear or actually never owned it, and if you don’t feel like spending the money to try something out just once? That’s where my favourite Swedish institution so far comes in: Fritidsbanken. Literally “Free Time/Leisure Bank”

Fritidsbanken is a project that started in 2013 in Värmland (the region in Western Sweden, not the Student Nation). Its purpose is to serve as a library for sports and outdoor equipment. You just go there, find whatever gear you are looking for, give them your name and a (Swedish) phone number, and you get to take anything home on a 14-day loan. The best part? It is all completely free! Fritidsbanken is financed and supported by the Swedish Sports Confederation and other Swedish institutions. They also rely on equipment donations, which help them make sure that access to all their goods is free for all.

“like a library but for sports and leisure,
Welcome to Fritidsbanken”

My friends and I went there searching for ice skates, but I was legitimately impressed with the amount of things they had when I walked in there. From skis to hiking backpacks, badminton rackets to footballs, ski boots, helmets, goggles, they have a variety of sizes and styles. I wear size 44 shoes, which I think is the most common shoe size for men here in Sweden, and they still had at least 6 pairs of skates I could choose from.

After trying out the skates and finding a pair that fit me, I just had to check out. But before that, I had an internal debate about whether I should take anything else. Maybe a helmet, since I had only skated 4 times before in my life and never really learned how to. Maybe some Ice Hockey or Bandy equipment in case I felt like trying out some typically Swedish winter sports. I ended up settling on taking only the skates, but all other options were available and I might try them out in the future.

One important thing to be aware of, though, is their opening hours. There are two units of Fritidsbanken in or close to Uppsala. One of them (the one I went to) is the Industristaden unit, located in the industrial zone south of the city centre, and the other one is a bit further away in Gottsunda. Both of them have the same opening hours: from Monday to Thursday between 2 and 7 pm. So if, like me, you plan on grabbing your gear for a little weekend adventure, you better plan ahead!

After you’ve chosen all you want to take, you just have to check out. It’s a very simple procedure: you just go to the “cashier”, show them what you’re taking, they ask for your name and phone number (has to be Swedish), enter it into their system and you get a text with a link to all the information relating to your loan. I even heard from a friend that if you need the skates you’re taking to be sharpened, for example, they can do it for you there for free as well. You get to keep the equipment for up to 14 days and just have to bring everything back in the same conditions you got it.

On Saturday, I met my friends to go put our skates and skills to the test. It was a really cold and windy afternoon, there was some snow laying on the ground and the sun had shined all morning but was starting to hide behind the clouds. It was a perfect early winter day to go enjoy another facility Uppsala has to offer: a free ice skating rink!

At Studenternas, right next to the football stadium, is the ice rink where Bandy matches are held. Next to it, there is a free skating area that is open to whoever wants to use it to play sports, practice their figure skating, or, as was my case, try to learn how not to fall every other minute. It is a very nice environment, full of families, friend groups, couples, and people enjoying their own company. Everybody respects each other’s space to the best of their abilities and it is a really fun activity to get you out of the house and into the cold winter air for a few hours. Don’t forget to dress warm and do a good layering job, though, because staying outdoors for long when it is cold might be dangerous. Wear a good scarf, a beanie, thick socks, and good gloves as well.

As they say: “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothes”

To me, Fritidsbanken is something that sums up a lot of the good things I like in Sweden. It’s a community-based institution whose main goal is to get people to go out, exercise and enjoy themselves and the company of friends. This sense of togetherness and the idea of staying active during the dark and cold winter months are crucial for students that just moved here. Having the chance to do all of this, and especially for free, is another example of why student life in Uppsala is among the best I have ever seen. Not even some snow, ice, and darkness can avoid it. In fact, they only add to the whole experience 😉