A buzzing turnout of over 300 persons and 35 exhibitors filled up the premises of STPLN in Malmö last week to connect around hardware. The event, organized by Malmö Startups, brought together the growing scene of hardware companies, which has seen an impressive surge in recent years.
“The goal is to connect the hardware scene and the best way to do so is by meeting other people and companies who are experts in the region,” said Joel Larsson, managing director for Fast Track Malmö and one of the organizers behind the event.
To start the evening, James Halliburton, co-founder and CEO of design studio Topp, talked about the capabilities and strengths of the region. He was then followed by two successful stories from each side of the Öresund. Hannes Hallén and Karolina Friberg, from Malmö’s Minut, shared their story emphasizing the value of Kickstarter campaigns and production in China. Jesper Vind, from Copenhagen’s Future Electric, talked about how they started their electrical motorcycle with off-the-shelf parts and how discouraging comments motivated them to disrupt the automotive industry. Attendees also got introduced to EON’s Agile accelerator, which intends to develop business ideas using their competence from the energy sector.
“Around us are the building blocks in the region and that is the challenge, not to be satisfied with how amazing this is, but push beyond our borders, our existing ambitions, to something even bigger,” shared Topp’s James Haliburton in his presentation.
In between and after presentations, a noteworthy buzz took over while people connected, shared and showcased their products. The diversity of hardware companies was impressive, from startups with ideas or working prototypes up to largely established companies. Everyone had something to contribute. Educational robots, connected sensing devices, smart connected bags and nano quadcopters were just some of the impressive products at display.
Another common thread throughout the evening was the fact that starting a hardware company is not as complicated and costly anymore. This was pointed out by Marcus Eliasson from Bitcraze who put emphasis on the availability of development boards or demo kits for as low as €10, as well as design tools such as KiCad, which are very useful in early testing and prototyping stages. The need for truly usable and sustainable hardware was further addressed by Vanja Plicanic Samuelsson from Sony.
The organizers of Hardware Connected received very positive feedback on the event. Entrepreneur and investor Hampus Jakobsson, who moderated the presentations, thought it was amazing to have a meetup between the really large companies and the startups.
“When it comes to hardware, we are on the forefront of the world but not everyone knows it because we don’t say it enough so this is us screaming: come and look at all the amazing things we have,” said Linda Malmgren, head of communications at Mobile Heights, about this event.
Along the same lines, Joel Larsson highlighted the fact that it is easier to hire people here than in other startup hubs like Stockholm, Berlin or New York. According to him, the region’s competence from large companies, together with the broad talent pool from universities, provide a perfect place to build your startup.
“People forget easily that large technology and manufacturing companies have been here for a long time and, combined with the software knowledge, there is no reason why the region cannot be a global hub for hardware development.” – James Haliburton.
The organizers look forward to build on this for future developments in Sweden and across Northern Europe. The interest, competence and technology are certainly in place.