Mobility

Volvo Cars and real estate developers establish mobility innovation centre for emerging technologies

Aiming to create an ecosystem to develop the future of mobility — thanks to collaboration.
by FRIDA JOHANSSON & JOHAN MAGNUSSON
February 09, 2024

Volvo Cars and real estate developers Vectura Fastigheter and Next Step Group join forces in the development of the Mobility Innovation Destination Torslanda in Gothenburg, Sweden. The centre will enable testing, validation, and deployment of emerging technologies in a city-like environment to achieve emission-free transport by 2030. 

The sustainability targets are ambitious. The first construction of 25,000 square meters will be a wood hybrid, which reduces the carbon footprint by 15% compared to a traditional frame of steel and concrete. The project is planned to start in the second quarter of this year and the first building is expected to be finished by 2026, in time for Volvo Cars’ 100th anniversary in 2027.

— With this initiative we aim to create an ecosystem where we can develop the future of mobility — including cars, the technology inside of them, and the infrastructure around them, all hand in hand, says Jim Rowan, chief executive of Volvo Cars. 

— It shall be open for collaboration and co-creation, offering the very best conditions for scaling exciting projects, says Jacob Torell, CEO of Next Step Group. This is a massive urban development initiative applying the triple helix model — where business, academia, and the city have come together to create a destination designed to spark creativity, new business models, and innovation. 

What are the next steps here?

— The first step is opening our showroom, which we did this week. The next step is to transform this building into an innovation arena open for collaboration, where we invite many companies to collaborate with us and Volvo Cars. The final step is to expand the building with almost 25,000 square metres, where we will add training facilities, conference rooms, a restaurant, office space, and social areas to encourage people to meet.

Jacob Torell and Jim Rowan (pictured left). Photography: Petra Björstad.

What are the keys in order to succeed?

— An innovation destination needs both a groundbreaking neighbourhood with excellent architecture and all the best amenities, such as restaurants and gyms, that allow for both planned and unplanned meetings. But innovation doesn’t happen by itself, it needs to be facilitated. Business, academia, and the public sector have come together for this project in order to solve tomorrow’s challenges for generations to come, Torell says. He continues:

— This is not just about creating physical buildings or renting square meters – it’s about building a destination, where people want to work, live, and play, attracting talent and investments to Gothenburg. It’s important for strengthening Gothenburg’s position as an attractive place to live and work — and therefore important for the competitiveness of Sweden as a whole.

The future, Torell states, is about collaboration. 

— To do so requires courage to be open, to allow a mix of perspectives. From a real estate perspective, we can speak of combination buildings, meaning, buildings that meet the needs and requirements of future talent. This can entail everything from training facilities and daily service to modern office space. The business model of the future, the way I see it; is to create a purposeful environment, where people want to work.


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