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Working globally, transforming locally: the COST Action impact on Sweden

COST, short for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, is a European funding organisation that provides networking opportunities for researchers and innovators to strengthen Europe’s capacity to address scientific, technological and societal challenges. In 2019, the agency granted the project submitted by Ilaria Mariotti, and the COST Action CA18214 came to life!

The project focuses on networking, and collaborative learning plays a key role in producing innovative knowledge and enhancing cooperation between academic and research institutions, policymakers and stakeholders at the European level. The project was approved before the pandemic hit us in 2020 and had to pivot radically, proving itself extremely relevant to the discussions around the reconstruction of our societies and communities. The role of every member was essential, and we are happy to share stories of impact emerging from this resilient networking.

Today, an inspiring story came from Sweden, where members of our Action promoted several initiatives to foster coworking practices and mindset in the country. Maria Svensson Wiklander, a member of the Swedish team, shares a story about the importance of activities promoted by the COST Action CA18214 in developing the collaborative ecosystem in Sweden. Maria is an entrepreneur and practitioner, and together with her colleagues, she runs four coworking spaces in a city in the middle of Sweden called Gomorron Östersund. She also runs The Remote Lab, a company that does research, education and consultancy work within the future of flexible work.

From Inspiration to Action

“The COST Action CA18214 The Geography of New Working Spaces and the Impact on the Periphery has been such an inspiration to us at the Remote Lab. Professor Hans Westlund invited me to become MC (Management Committee) member of the network, representing Sweden, and I attended my first meeting in February 2020 in Milan, right before COVID-19 hit. Almost nothing was done in Sweden, research-wise, within the field of coworking, as far as I was concerned, but this first meeting in Milan gave me the energy and willingness to change that”. 

Building and strengthening a network

“The Cost network has also given us important contacts. We invited Pauline Roussel and Dimitar Inchev from Coworkies to visit us in Sweden, and they joined the first Nordic community makers meetup in February 2023. I was then invited as a speaker at the Coworking Europe conference in Porto. 

We also invited Vika Zhurbas from the Ukraine Coworking Association to talk at Myndighetsfestivalen, an annual week of inspirational talks for employees within the public sector in Sweden. The talk was eye-opening and crucial to understanding the role of coworking in our society and communities. More importantly, it became clear that coworking is essential in building social resilience”. 

Supporting policy-making

“Within these last two years, we have mapped all coworking spaces in Sweden and a follow-up study covering how companies in Sweden grow to new locations through coworking and for what reasons. These studies have been conducted as reports to the government and funded by the governmental organisation Tillväxtanalys and in partnership with KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology. These initiatives have also connected us to other coworking spaces in Sweden, and we are now looking at starting an industry organisation for coworking, the Sweden coworking association”. 

And Maria concludes her testimony:

“None of this would have happened without the Cost Action network, and I am proud and grateful to be part of a fantastic context with amazing researchers and human beings”

Source cover: Åre en Östersund zijn twee Zweedse bestemmingen in de bergen | Visit Sweden
Source: Maria Svensson Wiklander | LinkedIn Cover