The Nordic Lesson: Spread Out Innovation

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It might seem a puzzle why the small Nordic nations are so successful in innovation, despite much of the population living in large territories with limited population density. A key explanation is that innovation companies, and universities with research and development activities, are found throughout the Nordics. If the innovation activities of the Nordics had only existed in the capital cities, the focus would have been limited to mainly digital solutions and business services.

The geographical distribution of innovation leads to a broader focus on innovation activities, including the innovations in manufacturing, energy, and materials which have great potential for environmental sustainability. Policymakers around the world often focus on how to promote one or a few distinct innovation regions, often based on Silicon Valley as a role model. The Nordic model, with much innovation in the knowledge triangle formed by the capital regions, but also in the periphery, is however also viable.

Encouraging innovation activity also in distant regions is important, for fostering green innovation, and for ensuring that the jobs of the future develop broadly, not focused only on metropolitan regions. It is therefore a strategy for preventing geographical imbalances in new job creation.

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