This is an opinion-piece from Morten Buchwald.
The Nordics rank among the top in almost every possible measure, which all Nordic citizens can be proud of – but what would it take to truly evolve the Nordics?
I have a few suggestions that I hope we can start having conversations about:
EMA to the Nordics
Both Denmark and Sweden are grasping the post-Brexit opportunity to have the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the 900 jobs that it represents, relocated to Denmark or Sweden, respectively. The only problem is that Denmark seeks to have the EMA placed in Copenhagen and Sweden to have it placed in Stockholm.
Wouldn’t it be in the interest of both nations to make a joint proposal to have the EMA relocated to the Greater Copenhagen region – whether it be on the ‘Danish side’ (Sealand Region or Capital Region) or the ‘Swedish side’ (Scania Region/Skåne)?
As we all know EU is highly appreciative of cross-border collaboration and the prospect of relocating a heavy-weight European institution to a cross-border region between two EU nations would be a strong argument among the many other European contesters.
The Nordic mindset could and should be applied to a range of topics, such as joint tourism strategy, which I’ve argued for earlier, and to many other areas.
Visibility & Branding
Efforts have been set up by the Nordic Council to brand the Nordic region. The tender regarding the official branding and positioning strategy was won by a consortium consisting of Mensch, BIG Architects, Area9 and Ole Lund Creative.
This dreamteam team surely should see the Nordics gain additional global attention in the coming years.
All companies operating from the Nordics and beyond national borders should pay special attention to what results will come out of this and where meaningful begin to consider small changes, such as replacing e.g. ‘leading Finnish consultancy’ with ‘leading Nordic consultancy’, etc. The Nordic brand is about to become an even stronger asset than it already is.
The concept of place branding is starting to play a bigger and bigger role among cities, regions, and countries in the Nordics as they are all competing globally to capture investments, talents, tourists, etc. My colleagues at Tendensor is hosting the Nordic Place Branding Conference 2017 later in January, where I can only encourage anyone interested in place branding to participate. At the latest Greater Copenhagen Political Summit I was fortunate enough to see Geerte Udo, who delivered a very insightful presentation.
The Rising North
The world is looking to the Nordics for new ventures to invest in. The Nordics, which represent ”(…) only 4% of the European population, have produced over 25% of all European exits”, however these amazing numbers only get limited traction in a global perspective.
To support the Nordic startup community the Nordic Council of Ministers have initiated a fund to support the internationalization of the Nordic startup ecosystem. It’s supported by a group of leading Finnish technology influencers. This initiative is sure to further accelerate an already thriving and quickly expanding Nordic startup scene.
In 2016 Nordic Innovation, along with business leaders from the startup community, launched a joint initiative: #NordicMade. It might seem like a small thing to share a hashtag but nevertheless it gives investors and VCs alike an easy overview of news from the Nordics. It also makes it easier for media to report on what’s happening in the Nordic startup community. Additionally it gives all Nordic entrepreneurs a platform for exchange of ideas and news, deepened insight in potential partners and a sense of a common goal among entrepreneurs in the Nordics.
Though a small step, it’s a clever one that will surely help underline the Nordics as a leading startup region.
Tech Nordic Advocates
I, myself, am part of a great Nordic tech network, Tech Nordic Advocates, which is ”(…) working together to stimulate Nordic and Baltic tech innovation and growth across the 5 Nordic and 3 Baltic countries (…)”. This, alongside, the aforementioned initiatives is just a few of many Nordic efforts to help stimulate and grow the Nordic startup scene.
Finally I want to mention Nordic Makers, Nordic Next and The Nordic Web as some of the main drivers in bringing Nordic startups the attention they deserve. Ultimately much has and is being done within and around the startup community but I believe we’ve only just seen the beginning of it.
In all of the Nordic countries municipalities have great autonomy yet the size of each municipality often limits the influence they have on national level. Each Nordic country has a municipal organization (KL, SKL, KS, etc.) representing the shared interests of the municipalities.
Looking at both the similarities and the dissimilarities in the 1.200 municipalities across the Nordics I propose the establishing of a similar entity – but at Nordic level.
Even if not all municipalities were to join such an effort a strong platform could be created, from where deepened cooperation could unfold, as well as a strengthening of shared interests, which would gain noticeable attention at the respective national levels.
This idea I will discuss in greater detail in my next article.
We already see municipalities practicing a whole new form of collaborative efforts in so-called business regions. Many have been established over the last few years and particularly in Denmark the concept is popular as I’ve written about earlier.
The Greater Copenhagen collaboration (which I’ve also written about) plays a central role in the development of both business regions in general but also closer Nordic collaboration as it covers parts of both Denmark and Sweden. In the future I hope the Greater Copenhagen collaboration efforts will be a role model for other Nordic municipalities and that municipalities, regions and countries alike can compete side by side rather than against each other.
Though I have only scratched the surface of some of the many great initiatives that exist in the Nordics I hope that some light has been shed on the enormous potential that lies in revitalizing Nordic collaboration.
Generally speaking the rest of the world perceives the Nordics as one region and one market. Let’s accept that bundling and start using it to our benefit instead of competing internally.
Please reach out if you wish to collaborate on anything Nordic! You can read more about my thoughts here.