King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was on hand to distribute the Builder of the Year Awards this week at a ceremony in the Bernadotte Library at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
Established in 1999 and awarded annually, the prizes recognise international entrepreneurs living in Sweden that have achieved success in their field of business. Meant to identify excellence and create role models, the awards are the foundation of the International Entrepreneurship Association in Sweden (IFS).
King Carl XVI Gustaf welcomed guests to the awards presentation, saying: “Many of our prize winners have been struggling to create a place in Swedish society. And all have worked hard to build their businesses.
“Through their efforts, they have provided themselves and their families. And at the same time created jobs for many others.
“Our prize winners are really positive models. And then I mean not only immigrants and people with a foreign background – but for all of us who live here in Sweden.”
The three categories recognised at the awards ceremony included New Builder of the Year, Pioneer of the Year and Young Pioneer of the World.
New Builder of the Year was awarded to Syrian Imad Elabdala, a civil engineer who arrived in Sweden in 2012. Elabdala received the award for creating “a book and an online-based game where children can express their feelings and communicate. The purpose is to support refugee children who have suffered conflicts and witnessed situations that are difficult to understand. After years of customer and development work, the company is now facing a wide launch with international potential.”
Pioneer of the Year was awarded to Hector Martinez, who came to Sweden from Mexico in 2008. Martinez has developed the company Cellink, whose innovations support human cell growth and create opportunities to print tissues such as cartilage and skin. The company grows by 200 per cent each fiscal quarter and has attracted over 200 MSEK in financing.
Young Pioneer of the Year was awarded to Adam Aljaraidah, the CEO and co-founder of Nordiska Virkesbörsen, a digital marketplace where forest owners can sell and advertise wood to companies. Aljaraidah was chosen for “his boldness and purposefulness to change a traditional industry where people with foreign backgrounds are not usually prevalent.”