Luleå Business

Facebook effect turns Swedish steel town into tech hot-spot

30 October, 2018 | Articles & Updates


Pressrelease may, 2018

Facebook grows in Arctic hot spot Luleå

Facebook is turning up the heat in its northernmost data center location. The company today announced an expansion of its Luleå site to almost double its current size, and the establishment of a Technology Deployment Center. When the new data center goes operational in 2021, the Luleå campus will be more than 100 000m2 / 1 million square feet. This will make it among the largest data centers in the world.

Since Facebook first came to town in 2011, the data center industry has become central to the transformation that the region is undergoing.

– Steel city Luleå is transforming into a tech town. It’s almost as if Pittsburgh would become Palo Alto, if not overnight, then at least in less than a generation. At the same time, our steel and mining industries are at the forefront of the transition to a fossil-free future. This gives us a unique position for the future, says Niklas Nordström, mayor of Luleå.

The city of Luleå in northern Sweden – on the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska – was built on the foundation of the steel industry. In the past decade, it has also developed into Europe’s leading cluster for data centers and other energy-intensive industries. More than 18 data centers today operate in the area, with German car manufacturer BMW one of the companies storing data in the region. Amazon also recently announced that three data centers will be built in Sweden.

Luleå Technical University (LTU), across the road from the Facebook site, is Sweden’s node for data center research. It houses Cloudberry Datacenters: a national research center for energy- and resource efficient data centers, and SICS ICE: an open, full-scale research and test environment data center, creating excellent conditions for research collaboration with Facebook and other data center actors. Facebook has also decided to locate a Technology Deployment Centre in connection to Luleå Science Park and LTU.

– There is fierce global competition for investments of this size. Our advantage is that we can offer renewable energy from hydropower, a cold climate, a highly skilled labour force, and a cluster with cutting-edge research within data centers and cloud computing, says Li Skarin, CEO at Luleå Näringsliv.

Data centers is a growing industry for Sweden. Boston Consulting Group estimates it could employ 30 000 people in Sweden in 2025 – twice as many as are employed in the country’s steel industry today.

– We call it the “Facebook effect”. The new business and new jobs generated by the initial investment makes this about much more than a data center. It contributes to strengthening our economy and society as a whole, says Li Skarin, CEO at Luleå Näringsliv.