Umeå’s name as an international innovation hotspot is also generating a growing interest within Sweden. In connection with Umeå’s designation as European Capital of Innovation Runner-Up in 2018, RISE, the government-owned Swedish research institute set up a dedicated expansion plan in Umeå, with about 100 new researchers and employees. RISE will expand from the already existing RISE facilities at The Pink and Scharinska villan, a hub for design-driven societal change set up by the national research institute in cooperation with business, academia, and societal stakeholders.
The bus stop –“A Station of Being” – is the result of a collaboration between the City of Umeå, RISE and Umeå Intitute of Design. It is a new, experimental bus station for the Arctic Region. The station transforms the uncomfortable experience of waiting into a transitional experience: a moment to ’just be’ and ‘change your state of being’– before heading for a new place and new activities. The first prototype of the bus stop was inaugurated on 2 October 2019 during the EU Arctic Forum in Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå has the world’s first publicly commissioned statue dedicated to the MeToo-movement. The artwork is entitled “Listen” and claims its place high above the main square in the city centre, in front the old city hall. It was officially inaugurated in November 2019, marking two years since the start of the MeToo movement. The artwork was created by artist Camilla Akraka and is 4.3 meters high, consisting of a red-coloured cougar with powerful muscles and a golden mouth, open in a roar - a manifestation dedicated to those who together broke the silence. An example of Umeå’s long-term work on gender equality and a part of Sweden’s first women’s history museum situated in Umeå.
In a 2020 study by Umeå University, a survey distributed to 4% of the city’s inhabitants examines the social capital in the city’s neighbourhoods. The study follows up on a previous 2006 survey, allowing a unique insight in the development of social capital over time on a neighbourhood level, something that has not been done in this way anywhere else. Results show an overall increase of social capital between 2006 and 2020. Four neighbourhoods were selected for case studies, where the social capital has increased, decreased, and remained, in order to identify the impact of different efforts and initiatives by the municipality. The research is carried out in close collaboration with the municipality in order to use the results in strategic development and urban planning for a socially sustainable city.
Umeå has developed a local set of indicators, to connect the EU Regional Innovation Scoreboard to the local context. This is essential as intra-regional divides on innovation capacity are a potential concern across Europe, between cities, as well as between city and countryside, within EU NUTS 2 regions.
Umeå is fast growing and has doubled its population in 50 years. The city has historically developed methods and processes to harness creativity and innovation as a regional centre of education.