The Municipality of Söderhamn

Drivkraft Söderhamn
Rationale and general information

Söderhamn is a small city on the Baltic Sea east coast of Sweden, about two hours north of Stockholm.

The past two decades have been an economic struggle for the city with several big companies closing. The city currently faces a decreasing and ageing population, with a high unemployment rate. The difficult situation triggered the realisation of a need for change.

From 2005 there is a political unity on strategically important issues and a well-known vision for the future. Many exciting future focused projects are creating positive changes in the municipality. Most important of all was that we realized that we had to influence the future by changing the culture through promoting an entrepreneurial culture in education.                                  

Söderhamn’s Vision has got seven strategies for how to attain the desired future goals:

  • Stimulate entrepreneurship and trade and industry development
  • Further develop Söderhamn as a centre for learning
  • Develop attractive living environments
  • Cooperation and teamwork
  • Focus on people interacting and meeting eye to eye
  • Converge upon strengths for a stronger cultural life and thriving climate for non-profit organisations.
  • Highlight progress

To change the culture it is not a quick fix, it takes a long time. Söderhamn decided to focus on children and students from preschool to adult learning and to work with the three entrepreneurial components.

Starting Date: Thu, 01 Sep 2005
Human resources

directly: 330 teachers and 20 principals ( from preprimary up to higher education)

indirectly: 3500 children and students ( from preprimary up to higher education)


After agreeing on a common understanding on the definition of entrepreneurship as a dynamic and social process and the identification of the main component of entrepreneurial and entrepreneurship education, the skills on which education at Söderhamn’s school would concentrate were selected :

  • ability to see possibilities
  • unrestrained thinking
  • entrepreneurial spirit
  • wealth of ideas
  • ability to act
  • stamina
  • creativity
  • courage
  • ability to co-operate
  • ability to express oneself
  • self-esteem
  • curiosity 
  • feeling of responsibility


The project was then implemented in three phases:

  1. Entrepreneurial learning, attitude and environments
  2. Cooperation between schools, companies /the surroundings community as learning environments
  3. Training entrepreneurship/business start-ups

First of all it was important that the teachers and the principals themselves had an entrepreneurial attitude and knowledge of how to develop those competences every day in school. The project has carried out mandatory education activities for all educational staff in Söderhamn. The project Drivkraft coordinated courses, including lifelong learning, at university for teachers in order to help them "dare to do" an entrepreneurial school. Several mandatory activities for school leaders has been carried out in order to provide training, opportunity for dialogue about the projects objectives etc, and information on the project's processes, activities and offered support.

In addition to the above, there have been activities in the project such as lectures and inspirational days for principals and teachers, who gave evidence to reflect on the objectives and to find a balance between the two approaches regarding performance improvements that exist in schools, focusing on the shortcomings and weaknesses through training and control (external motivation) and focus on interests, ideas and strengths through emancipation (internal motivation).

The second step (developed in 2006-2007 with school and businesses, initiated in schools in 2008 and implemented in 2009) refers to activities where students are trained in working life, or may try to run a temporary business. This provides experience and knowledge of both working, and self-employment conditions. Söderhamns´ model for students to interact with companies and organisations is named “The future is NOW” and reinforces interaction between school and work, from preschool until the students are 15 of age, in the compulsory school.

The third and last step is dedicated to the narrow definition of entrepreneurship: business start-up. UF - The Young Entrepreneurship programme - is an educational concept for high school-students between the age of 16-20 years which gives them the opportunity to experience the life cycle of an enterprise, from the start up to the closure.

As a UF tutor a teacher must attend a qualification course and after that they can act as a coach for the students. The students work with their UF enterprises two hours per week during their whole last year. The students must decide who is in charge over which department in the enterprise and who will be the president.

Compulsory elements in the UF- concept is to register with UF - online, writing a business plan, arrange at least two selling opportunities, write an annual report and to establish a contact with an advisor from the business world.


In project management, there is a steering committee consisting of politicians, chief education officers, business representatives, region representatives, researcher and project manager/ process leader/teacher.

Their role as a group are consensus + collaboration = legitimacy for the desired development components:

  • Enterprising learning & attitude,
  • cooperation school-enterprise-surrondings
  • entrepreneurships training

The UF organisation, a non profitable organisation started in 1980, provided with the Young Entrepreneurship Programme

Success factors
  • to get school leaders to own the development process in their school district
  • to get school leaders to “keep in and keep out” of this development direction
  • DrivKraft participates in both internal and external conferences
  • The number of students in Söderhamn that choose to be UF-entrepreneurs has increased, from 55 students in 2007 to 103 students in 2010.
  • Study visits to Soderhamn both nationally and internationally
  • DK taking part in EU project ECECC and we have from these initiatives, many many features and articles in media.
  • We have a culture change in entrepreneurial learning direction in our schools (and Municipality of Söderhamn )
  • We have developed both the student and the teacher's role
  • We have more people who want to remain in our town
  • We have more young people who want to study higher education at distance from Söderhamn
Birgit Lodmark,