Microsoft ramps up AI, cloud infrastructure in Sweden with $3.2 billion investment deal

Microsoft logo is seen during the 2015 Microsoft Build Conference on April 29, 2015 at Moscone Center in San Francisco,
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft has announced plans for its largest ever investment in Sweden in a bid to expand cloud and AI infrastructure. 

The $3.2 billion investment aims to accelerate Sweden's introduction of AI and create long-term benefits for the Swedish economy, the tech giant confirmed.

The company said it also hopes to increase the country's long-term competitiveness by training up a quarter of a million people in AI skills.

"Our investment in Sweden is proof of our confidence in this nation, its government and its potential as a leading player in the AI era," said Brad Smith, vice chair and president at Microsoft.

"This announcement is about more than just technology. It is a commitment to ensure broad access to the tools and skills needed for Sweden's population and economy to flourish in the AI era."

With the new investment, the company's second in the country in the last three years, Microsoft will expand its cloud and AI infrastructure and add 20,000 advanced GPUs to its existing data center regions in Sandviken, Gävle, and Staffanstorp.

Working with Swedish partners including Boliden, Gunnebo, Kry, Lindex, and Region Västerbotten, the company also plans to give 250,000 Swedes - around 2.4% of the entire population - necessary AI skills.

"AI acts as a catalyst for innovation and drives progress and growth in many industries. In order to fully realize Sweden's potential, we must embrace AI to unlock new opportunities, streamline processes and create solutions to complex challenges," said Johannes Schildt, CEO at Kry.

"Together with Microsoft, we are already seeing good results in how AI reduces administrative tasks and enables our healthcare staff to better focus on patient care."

The training will include technical and vocational training for students designed to help develop their AI skills, tailored education for retraining in industry-specific professions, and expert training in AI for developers.

To guide the programs, the company is establishing an AI Insights Council that brings together leaders in academia, business, and the public sector. The program will be run in collaboration with partners and representatives from, among others, the Employment Service, Linköping University, TechSverige, and partners within Microsoft's Responsible AI Innovation Center.

"Microsoft is committed to increasing accessibility and accelerating the introduction of AI throughout the Nordics, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden," Smith commented.

"We will connect our AI investments to programs and partnerships that support individuals, businesses and long-term economic growth across the region."

Microsoft deal marks latest big tech investment in the region

Big tech investment in the Nordics has surged in recent years amid a flurry of deals across the region. 

In late May, Google announced plans to invest $1 billion to expand data center infrastructure in Finland, for example. The move will see the tech giant use data center waste heat to fuel nearby homes and businesses.

Google has deep ties in Finland, having previously pumped €600 million into expanding data center operations in Hamina.

For both Microsoft and Google, proximity to renewable energy sources has been a key factor in their ongoing expansion across the region. Earlier this year, Google broke ground on its first Norwegian data center, which it said will be 99% carbon free.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.