Collaboration and dialogue

Kiruna Sustainability Centre - An innovation platform and a testbed for a smart and sustainable city

Kiruna is a city located in the north of Sweden, well-known for its large mine - the Kiruna mine is one of the largest and most modern underground iron ore mines in the world. 

Mining production started 1898 and the industry has since then become vital to the municipality - both economically and socially. About 100 years after the start, a new ledge was discovered directly under the city, which led to the decision to relocate the present city centre. The relocation will be made gradually over decades. In the next few years, hotels, cultural houses, commercial premises and housing will be ready in the new city center. The huge urban transformation in Kiruna opened possibilities for innovative thinking and enabled new solutions for creating a sustainable society. The initiative Kiruna Sustainability Center (KSC) is one way to collect and facilitate such ideas and solutions. It is an arena where the municipality, business sector, academia, and citizens work together to test innovative ideas, methods and solutions for a sustainable society.

"An innovation platform and a testbed for a smart and sustainable city."

KSC is both an innovation platform and a testbed. The innovation platform will work to develop new methods to capture new ideas within the urban transformation. The municipality, business sector, academia and citizens work together to develop and test innovative and sustainable solutions that will lead to new business opportunities. Testbed Kiruna will provide small and medium sized enterprises in the region with an arena to develop and test new solutions, services and products linked to sustainability and smart cities and communities. One example is the "Hidden City" by CGI. Using glasses with augmented reality technology a kind of X-ray vision is created, making it possible to see the under-ground infrastructure. This provides a direct technical benefit to the maintenance of the systems, eg. being able to predict operational disruptions.


Kiruna kommun (municipality), Tekniska Verken Kiruna, Luleå University of Technology, RISE, Sparbanken Nord, Swedish Energy Agency and Norrbotten Region. Kiruna Municipality is the project owner and Tekniska Verken Kiruna the project manager.


The main financier of the innovation platform is Vinnova. Other funding partners are Kiruna Municipality, Tekniska Verken Kiruna, Luleå University of Technology, Norrbotten Region and RISE.

The main financier of Testbed Kiruna is the European Regional Development Fund. Other financiers and partners are Kiruna Municipality, Technical Works in Kiruna, Luleå University of Technology, RISE, Sparbanken Nord, the Swedish Energy Agency and Region Norrbotten. Kiruna Municipality is the project owner and the Technical Works in Kiruna project manager the work.


KSC aims to create (municipality, academia, business sector, and residents together) a smart and attractive society that makes it easier to live sustainably. The vision is a sustainable and smart new Kiruna that creates economic growth and business opportunities for companies in the region.

Urban Trends & Innovations - selected learnings

“The crucial thing is to change the culture of the organization to make it more innovative. However, it is also important to ‘show off’ early victories. By way of example, the project “Hidden City” helped us to find and manage acute, real leakage on the district heating network. Through combining different technologies (AR, GPS, etc.) and datasets, we could actually ‘see’ the underground infrastructure. The project was published in several different media and noted by many. Such attention creates pride and inspires businesses, politicians and researchers to support and continue to work on new smart solutions.” Mats Nilsson, Tekniska Verken Kiruna

Influential Trends

  • Tech trends: Testbed Kiruna consists of many different projects that together probably involve most of the tech trends.
  • Societal trends: Global and local networking, Urbanization, Sustainable responsibility, Preparedness, Co-creation, Prototyping, Eco-system networks, Smart society.

UN sustainable development goals

Most of the SDGs could probably be linked to this case as it is an arena for many different projects. However, focusing on the umbrella organization KSC, it can be linked to SDGs no. 8 - Decent work and economic growth - as the aim is to create economic growth and business opportunities for companies in the region, no. 9 - Industry, innovation & infrastructure - due to the focus on new ideas and smart solutions, no. 11 - Sustainable cities and communities - as the vision is a sustainable and smart Kiruna, and no. 13 - Climate action - due to that there are specific objectives to reduce e.g. co2 emissions.


  • Interview with Mats Nilsson, Head of Department Projects & Development, Tekniska verken Kiruna (ex-project manager of KSC)
  • Online: