Thursday, 16 February 2017 10:40

Spotlight on Policy Area Innovation: Collaborating on innovation for a sustainable development of the Baltic Sea Region

Written by  Niclas Forsling & Trine Schmidt

Innovation - the process of finding new smart solutions to address our common challenges - has its own dedicated policy area in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Policy area (PA) Innovation, as one out of 13 policy areas, demonstrates the commitment and importance that the countries in this region assign to strengthening their innovative position on the global stage. As such, PA-innovation contributes to the EU strategy’s goal of economic growth and increased prosperity in the Baltic Sea Region.

However, for our region to prosper, the force of innovation must contribute to a sustainable development to the benefit of people living in all parts of the Baltic Sea Region while protecting our precious environment. Many of the challenges related to sustainable development faced globally are also apparent in our nearby environment. Our region has a strong knowledge base, we are technologically advanced and we are all operating on highly competitive internal and external markets. We can therefore test new innovative solutions and their global market potential right here in the Baltic Sea Region. 


Fashion show

3D printed outfits by designer Danit Peleg at PA-Innovation stand, 7th Strategy Forum of the EUSBSR. Photo: Julie Malmstrøm 


Innovation is essentially about new ideas and inventions reaching markets, and going global is an important aspect of this. Yet ideas arise with people locally and new initiatives on innovation must therefore be driven by local and regional actors. So what role does PA-Innovation then play in strengthening the innovative capacity of the region? PA-Innovation takes the macro-perspective and connects the dots (people – ideas – funding sources) for inventions to reach new markets, so that valuable knowhow and best practices within innovation policy can spread pan-Baltic.

This requires a bottom-up approach, taking regional demand as a starting point and connecting the local regional actors in areas they themselves have identified as relevant for transnational collaboration. Regions’ smart specialization strategies hold a central role in this collaboration and PA-innovation therefore encourages and support regions in collaborating transnationally on the implementation of their smart specialisation strategies. (What are smart specialisation strategies you wonder? Read more here).

How do we work?

In short, we aim to strengthen the innovation infrastructure required – hard or soft - for innovations to have a wider impact on the entire Baltic Sea Region. This is done through a handful of flagship initiatives engaging various networks and clusters across the Baltic Sea Region to enable shared learning and facilitate the joining of forces between partners from different corners of our region. Our strategy guide (2016 – 2020) sets out the prioritized areas for the coming years. In this you can read more about the set of activities we aim to develop within the areas of digitalization, internationalization of SMEs and talent management and entrepreneurship. You can download our strategy guide here.

Perhaps not surprisingly this is a challenging field of collaboration, as each new innovation changes the possibilities for future innovations and thereby also the kind of support needed. For this reason working with the area of innovation is never dull - it’s an experimental process, where testing new ways of working together and optimizing processes is the name of the game.

Partnerships are central for an innovative Baltic Sea Region

Innovation is relevant for all aspects of the EUSBSR, making partnerships with other policy areas absolutely crucial to achieve a successful implementation of all three priorities of the EUSBSR: ‘Save the Sea’, ‘Connect the Region’ and ‘Increase Prosperity’. For example PA-Innovation and PA-bioeconomy joined forces with a common focus on ‘fashionable bioeconomy’ at the 7th Strategy Forum for the EUSBSR. PA- innovation and PA-bioeconomy brought together high-level politicians, experts and entrepreneurs to discuss the potential of innovative textiles and new means of production based on biobased natural resources such as fish skin, milk protein and even forest-based fabrics. This resulted in a very interesting discussion framed by a fashion show to inspire and stir the curiosity of the audience. (What was said? Watch the keynote speakers here). 


At the strategy forum in November, PA-Innovation also emphasized the power of digitalisation for innovation. In the forum’s creative lounge participants were invited to explore the disruptive power of 3Dprinting and discuss the innovation potential for new business models in a digital economy. Connecting the ideas for a fashionable bioeconomy to the possibilities of digitalisation and industry 4.0, we showcased 3D printed outfits from a “printed at home” collection by designer Danit Peleg, which may be done in both recycled and biomaterials.

Get to know us, and get in touch!

We would love to hear from you on ideas – small or big - for new collaborations or partnerships that can contribute to a more innovative Baltic Sea Region. Learn more and get in touch via our brand-new website,, or Twitter @inno_pa


Niclas Forsling & Trine Schmidt
PA Innovation Coordinators
Nordic Council of Ministers

Spotlight blog series introduces the concrete work done by the Policy Areas and Horizontal Actions of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.




Read 4784 times Last modified on Friday, 12 May 2017 11:06