What DreamHack means to the city of Jönköping

Posted on: Jun 25, 2018 By smartlaunch in News and trends,

A number of cities have played a hidden role in the growth of esports. Katowice, a small industrial city in Poland, first welcomed the Intel Extreme Masters finals in 2014—an event which welcomed 169K turnstile attendees this year. Poitiers, a commune in West-Central France, played host to the original Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) back in 2003. Then of course there’s Jönköping—situated in the south of Sweden, a city that accommodated 5,000 gamers in its Elmia venue in 2001, and the place where DreamHack  has stayed ever since.

As highlighted in the following talks from the DreamHack x TEO Networking lounge, a number of local business initiatives are looking to use DreamHack’s influence to turn Jönköping into an attractive place for digitally-minded entrepreneurs.

Patrik Olderius is the current CEO of Destination Jönköping, a fully-owned municipality company. On stage with Tomas Lyckedal, the chief brand officer of DreamHack, he tells an anecdote of when he used to give round tours of the DreamHack Summer and Winter events, to politicians and companies. Wanting to demonstrate the value a LAN festival can bring to Jönköping, he emphasizes that there are approximately 50K attendees at each festival, between the ages of 15-35 years of age. “Every city would kill for it,” said the CEO. “Suddenly, the politicians and everybody understands.”

Patrik Olderius wants to take the driving forces of gaming already present in the city, and build companies out of them.

“My primary purpose was to see that the people in Jönköping start to notice gaming, and what gaming is. People say ‘you don’t bring any money into culture,’ and I say this is the biggest culture event that you have in the world. DreamHack is culture. It is the modern type of culture.”

After two years of chairing discussions with DreamHack and politicians, Olderius wanted to take the driving forces of gaming already present in the city, and build companies out of them. The result is a new project: The Harbour. A result of a partnership between DreamHack and Herenco—a family-run company group, one of the largest in Sweden—it will act much like an incubator within the city of Jönköping, but with a municipality perspective.

“What can DreamHack actually do for my city throughout the entire year?” said Tomas Lyckedal. “One is recruitment—how can companies in the local region tap in and find talent through DreamHack? Number two, how can you create startups and companies around gaming and esports, in that region? Number three, how can you get the people that visit that one time, come back for something other than DreamHack?”

The Harbour will support startups with a clear focus on innovation, rather than traditional businesses. As Olderius explains, the sense of community that exists within esports and gaming is not present in traditional businesses. “The logic of innovation doesn’t work with the logic of operation,” he said. “If you look at Volvo, they have gone from producing cars, to producing services, and now they are a company of experiences. Because what do you do when the cars drive themselves?”

 

The initiative is focused on digital transformation within the region’s companies, and is starting out with a SEK 19M (€1.8M) budget for three years. Half of it will be provided by the European Regional Development Fund, while the other half comes from local companies, Jönköping County, Jönköping University, and Science Park—an accelerator that focuses on knowledge-intensive and scalable companies in the area.

“Transform to AAA” is a regional project in Jönköping that made its first DreamHack appearance last weekend.

Digital Dreams presented DreamHack attendees with a mobile app, loaded with various games inspired by local heroes —such as artist and illustrator John Bauer, and S. A. Andrée, who attempted to fly to the North Pole by hot balloon. Top scorers were awarded with prizes (supported by the project backers), while local schools also got involved with the program, such as helping with concept art for the games.

Asked about what role esports and gaming could play in the Digital Dreams concept, Andersson said he’s had discussions with DreamHack organizers on how to share knowledge about the industry with local companies.

“Getting involved with this project together with DreamHack, what can we learn about the gaming industry that could support our companies in this region?” he said. “Everybody knows gamficiation as a buzzword, but how can we actually get a little bit deeper…and how can we adapt that to the local businesses?”

 

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