Kickstart Digitalization is a method to boost awareness about digitalization and to stimulate initial digitalization activities for competitiveness in SMEs.
Kickstart digitalization (Kickstart) is part of Sweden’s Smart industry strategy. Kickstart is the largest national effort to boost digital skills and utilization of digital technology among SME’s within the manufacturing sector in Sweden. Kickstart has been carried out by the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, IF Metall, IUC and Swedish Incubators & Science Parks (SISP). The project has been financed by The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.
Kickstart aims to get key representatives in SMEs to understand what digitalization is and what it means for their businesses and start their digitalization towards Industry 4.0.
The method is based on a series of workshop over a six-week period consisting of three free-of-charge meetings where two representatives from approx. 10 companies share experiences and ideas. The workshop series end with concrete activities that the companies will work on. The companies also identify the need for external support.
The concept is about de-dramatize digitalization, showing that it concerns all companies, and lowering the thresholds for firms to get started. It is also organized as to enable peer-learning between the participating companies and providing good examples of digitalization relating to the companies.
Part 1: Inspirational lectures and workshops
Part 2: Workshops to identify the company's opportunities
Part 3: Workshop to identify start-up activities for the company

Resources needed

Kickstart Digitalization was managed as a nationwide project with 1,4 ME National funding (The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth). Scouting of SME’s was made distributed all over Sweden and training by RISE certified trainers.

Evidence of success

627 companies have participated in Kickstart Digitalization. The companies are satisfied with their participation in the program and with the Kickstart Digitalization method:
 In a survey, 81 percent of the companies’ state that they have begun a digitalization project or increased the pace of ongoing digitalization work.
 91 percent state that they have received new ideas on how they could use the possibilities of digitalization.
 92 percent think the concept is good or very good.

Difficulties encountered

The main challenge of Kickstart has been to attract companies.
56 %, indicate that they aim to complete their project within the next year and 45 % within 2 years. Obstacles are lack of resources (64 %) (time, employees), lack of financial resources (29 %) and lack of knowledge/expertise (24 %)

Potential for learning or transfer

A key challenge when it comes to SME digitalization is related to creating awareness and an understanding of opportunities related to the use of digital technologies. Kickstart is a widely used and proven concept with good results. Evaluations show its applicability and usefulness as to initiate and support SME early stage digitalization. KIckstart is easily replicated in other national context without great efforts, and it is exported to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and organizers in these countries receive training in the usage of the concept.
1. How to inspire and motivate SMEs to start to digitalize and implement Industry 4.0 technologies.
2. How to support SMEs to take initial action towards higher levels of digitalization.
3. How to coach SMEs in digitalization efforts.
4. How to build broad national coalitions of SME support actors.
5. How to use cluster organizations to support SME digitalization.
6. How to deal with large scale onboarding processes for SME support.

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Main institution
RISE Research Institute of Sweden
Norra Mellansverige,
Start Date
September 2017
End Date
February 2020


Torbjörn Jonsson Please login to contact the author.

Good Practices being followed by

Sandra Evans

University of Tübingen