As the global market evolves, the need for specialized skills and fresh perspectives has never been more critical for Swedish companies. Acconeer, a leading company in radar technology headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, exemplifies how crucial international talent is to drive innovation and growth.

In this interview, Josefin Strahl, Head of Hardware Integration at Acconeer, shares their success story of hiring an international expert. With support from Vinnova’s initiative ‘Attract, integrate, and retain international excellence’, Acconeer hired a Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD student as their new Senior Antenna Engineer.

Acconeer: A cutting-edge tech company
Acconeer began its journey in 2012, grounded in research from Lund University. The company was established to develop radar solutions that enable a new generation of use cases in the high-volume market. Over the years, Acconeer’s product range has expanded from a single device to a complete portfolio of sensors and modules. Their team now consists of over 60 people.

“Our radar sensor is based on pulsed coherent radar technology and combines extremely low power consumption with high accuracy,” explains Josefin Strahl. “These unique characteristics make it possible to identify materials and detect motion in advanced sensor applications. The small size, only 5×5 mm, and low power consumption are ideal for compact battery-driven and mobile devices.”

By early 2024, Acconeer had shipped over 2 million sensors to more than 60 countries, a significant milestone for the public company listed on Nasdaq First North since December 2017.

Tapping global talent for high-tech industry solutions
Acconeer’s work in a high-tech industry sector necessitates looking beyond Sweden for talent. After a long search, Josefin finally found the right candidate for the Senior Antenna Engineer role. The company also qualified to receive support from Vinnova’s initiative, ‘Attract, integrate, and retain international excellence’.

“It was very difficult for me to find suitable candidates for the Senior Antenna Engineer position. There is not enough specialized competence within Sweden alone, and recruiting talent from abroad is invaluable for a small company like Acconeer,” says Josefin. “The support provided through the Vinnova initiative not only facilitated the recruitment process but also helped in validating her decision to hire internationally.”

“I learned about Vinnova’s initiative through the candidate I was keen to hire for the position of Senior Antenna Engineer,” Josefin notes. “She did her PhD in Sweden under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme and informed me about the Vinnova call.”

Despite discovering the Vinnova call just two weeks before the deadline, Josefin and her new hire quickly prepared their application. “We received very fast and effective support from the Vinnova contact person, which made the process straightforward. It was a great experience working with my new employee even before she officially started at Acconeer,” she adds.

Swedish companies need support to tackle the talent challenge
Josefin emphasizes the kind of support companies need to attract more highly qualified international talent. “Companies need assistance in matching positions with available talent, understanding the rules for recruiting from abroad, such as posting ads on ‘Arbetsförmedlingen’, and presenting Swedish society effectively,” she explains.

“Providing materials that explain the tax system, pension, and healthcare, and making Sweden attractive compared to other European countries with higher salaries is also crucial. Moreover, helping new employees feel at home and establish themselves in Sweden is essential. This can be challenging, especially for small and mid-sized companies.”

To learn more about attracting, recruiting and retaining international talent, Acconeer participated in Switch to Sweden’s ​​Tap the Talent initiative. This educational seminar series provided practical tools and networking opportunities for professionals in talent acquisition, recruitment, employer branding and CEOs. Participants learned from experts and peers, gaining key insights needed to develop actionable plans for enhancing their employer appeal to international hires.

The future is global
Looking ahead, Josefin envisions continued collaboration between Acconeer and international academic talents.

“Acconeer is dependent on international talent. Apart from Antenna Engineers, we also do digital and analog ASIC development, and the available talent within Sweden is simply not enough.

Our diverse workforce, composed of people from different cultures, makes it a vibrant place to work, fostering learning and new perspectives.

Our core company values are ‘Open, Innovative, Brave,’ which I also think is a good description of talented people prepared to move to a new country to pursue their dreams and careers,” Josefin concludes.

Leveraging international talent for strategic advantage
For businesses like Acconeer, leveraging international talent is not just a necessity but a strategic advantage. Vinnova’s initiative and the matchmaking tool developed by Linköping Science Park’s Switch to Sweden offer invaluable support to companies looking to attract, integrate, and retain global expertise. These programs simplify the recruitment process and provide essential resources for both companies and international professionals.

As Sweden continues to innovate and compete on a global scale, the collaboration between local businesses and international talent will play a critical role in driving growth and maintaining a competitive edge. By tapping into international expertise, Swedish companies can ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the future.