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2 Ongoing Projects

Digital inclusion in action

This project will contribute to an inclusive digital transition in the Nordic-Baltic societies by promoting collaboration, dialogue, and knowledge sharing between practitioners and policymakers in the different countries and autonomous territories. The Nordic and Baltic societies are among the most advanced in Europe on digitalisation and they continually rank high on the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Digital literacy, digital skills and competences are all necessary to participate in the digital economy and society. With increased digitalisation, there is a risk that some groups lacking certain skills could be excluded, among these are elderly people, people with disabilities, persons with low or no education, young people between 15-25 as this group often struggle with communicating digitally with the public sector , immigrants that lack language skills, and people residing in rural areas. Digital exclusion can result in consequences such as people not having access to and receiving public services, lack of information about public services, social inequality, and social exclusion. Furthermore, COVID-19 has transformed the everyday lives of our citizens and businesses, increasing the importance of accessible, reliable, and usable digital public services. The project will develop a clear understanding of the key aspects that make up digital inclusion in the Nordic-Baltic region, including the potential effects of these aspects on different societal groups. The methods used will be both qualitative and quantitative such as data collection, literature review, surveys, case studies and interviews as well as seminars with networks of digitally vulnerable groups. An important part of this project is the close collaboration with a Nordic-Baltic reference group on digital inclusion, public agencies, civil society groups, and other research projects working with digital inclusion.   Furthermore, the project will develop maps that can visualise the status on access and capability in the Nordic-Baltic region and publish…

Not Just a Green Transition (NJUST) – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region

Not Just a Green Transition – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region (short name: NJUST) contributes to a just transition towards a climate neutral Nordic Region. The researchers explore perceptions among those experiencing the change first-hand and focus on how to best support the Nordic people and especially potentially vulnerable groups, primarily unemployed and those at risk of unemployment as well as older adults, children and persons with disabilities. Towards a strong knowledge base and policy relevanceThe starting point will be to create a knowledge base where a literature review, policy review and analyses of spatial and socio-economic effects of green transition policies will be conducted. The project will send out surveys and perform sentiment analyses to explore how people experience the ongoing green transition on an individual level. Based on the knowledge base, a policy proposal toolbox will be created and disseminated to the relevant policymakers across the Nordic countries and self-governing regions. The toolbox shall contain policies and measures to reduce the potentially negative spatial and social impacts of the green transition. All publications will be openly available on Nordregio’s website. A big collaboration effort: focus groups and dialogue meetings to validate the resultsThe project interacts with labour market representatives, unions and civil society actors, invites vulnerable group representatives to join focus groups and dialogue meetings and reaches out to citizens via surveys. Nordic and national policymakers are the main target group for the project results and special communication efforts will be channelled to these groups. NJUST invites all stakeholders annually to join an open event to share and build knowledge. The first event takes place in August 2022 and more information will be available here during the spring. The NJUST project works closely and reports to several Committees of Senior…

BioBaltic – Nordic-Baltic cooperation within bio-circular-economy

The project aims at deepening Nordic-Baltic cooperation around bio-circular-economy. Both – Nordic and Baltic countries are rich in biological and renewable resources and have a long tradition in utilizing these resources for generating economic growth through the traditional sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as related sectors including food processing, tourism etc. This project provides a platform for generating awareness of different bioeconomy models through peer-to-peer learning and building networks across Baltic and Nordic countries. This collaboration will enable knowledge generation and exchange among multiple actors, including youth. The collaboration will focus on different aspects of bioeconomy transition, including financing aspects, industrial partnerships and symbiosis or the opportunities of digitalisation. A two-way learning channel will be established between each Baltic country and the Nordic Countries through Nordregio. The ‘Mobile Learning Hubs’ (MLHs), coordinated by the NCM offices in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, will collect and disseminate practical and scientific knowledge on bio-circular-economy, in collaboration with local actors. Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems

Reducing loneliness among older adults in times of covid-19 and beyond: Experiences from three Swedish Municipalities (REDLON)

This project investigates the use of digital technologies to address loneliness and isolation among older adults living at home with home care services and in caring homes in three case study municipalities in Sweden: Huddinge, Eskilstuna, and Storuman. The focus is mainly on challenges, opportunities, and solutions that have emerged during the covid-19 pandemic. Loneliness and social isolation pose significant challenges for older adults living alone and in senior housing facilities, affecting their mental and physical health. Due to self-isolation requirements during the covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have been further exacerbated. The use of digital technologies within elderly care has a potential to combat social isolation, for instance by providing increased access to home care services and possibilities to take part in social activities. Even so, previous knowledge on effectiveness of digital interventions to tackle loneliness of older adults is quite limited. In Sweden, the utilisation of digital tools within welfare sector in municipalities has been mainly only focused on the objectives of increased effectivity and quality of care. Based on a previous Nordregio project (VOPD), this project analyses if and how the identified benefits and potentials have been utilised within elderly care during the prevailing recommendations of self-isolation. Semi-structured interviews with municipality authorities, social care providers, and older adults is applied as the main method. Besides identifying good and transferrable practices, this project will provide information on how to ensure that digital solutions and services for older adults are socially inclusive – in order to minimise the risk that some groups of older people become even more socially excluded due to the increased use of digital tools. The gained learnings from the case study municipalities will be disseminated to decision-makers, social care providers, and other municipalities in form of a report and a workshop. Nordregio is leading the project…


DigiBEST is an interregional cooperation project for policy improvement of SME’s competitiveness promotion co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Norwegian national funding through the INTERREG EUROPE programme. The overall objective of the project is to support and promote SMEs competitiveness through digital transformation of SMEs in rural European territories by proposing solutions to enhance their capacity to use advanced technologies and new innovative business approaches for promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe and its regions. Nordregio was engaged as an external expert to provide a peer review of the work of the Latvian project partner. We undertook this task on behalf of the Norwegian project partner, Trøndelag County Council, and worked in partnership with a similar expert from Austria. The ultimate aim was to provide recommendations to support SME digitalisation in Latvia based on experiences in Norway and Austria.

Update of the VASAB-LTP for the Territorial Development of BSR

This project aims to update the strategy VASAB Long Term Perspective (LTP) for the territorial development of the Baltic Sea Region – BSR. The revision of this transnational strategic spatial planning document on territorial integration builds on relevant topics of existing VASAB LTP (1994, 2009) and will incorporate a future-oriented perspective. The revision will consider current and future trends that are likely to influence the territorial development of the macro-region. The update of the long-term vision is envisaged as an iterative and participatory process involving a wide range of relevant stakeholders. Together with Spatial Foresight, Nordregio will develop a background synthesis report that will cover the experience and lessons learned from the current VASAB long-term perspective; important trends shaping future developments in the Baltic Sea Region and key relevant policy documents to which the long-term perspective need to relate to. This report will be fundamental to guide the new spatial vision that will endeavour for a sustainable, inclusive and digital Baltic Sea Region in 2040.

Covid-19 Economic Impacts in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how closely health and economy are linked. This project analyses the economic impacts of the pandemic in the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) region, as well as Canada. The main aim is to set out the recovery roadmap with recommendations for positive action and policy that can create more sustainable and resilient communities and economies. The project gathers 13 partners to examine how Covid-19 hit the countries’ economies and what responses, innovations and transformations took place as a result. The partners are coming from very diverse background geographically, institutionally, and in terms of expertise. That will assure the vast diversity of knowledge and perspectives to the project. The project will give special attention to peripheral areas in the NPA region and to young people and entrepreneurs (up to age 40), to gain their unique perspectives and innovations on Covid-19 responses and sustainable development. It will also add a human rights perspective on the inequities of health systems/economies, including for peripheral and indigenous communities within the NPA. Nordregio will provide relevant comparative data (economic and health) across the Nordic Region and the Arctic, including harmonised data across the NPA region. Also, the partner will share the relevant findings from previously conducted relevant projects. The ultimate goal is to set out a recovery roadmap with recommendations that will improve health, wellbeing as well as social, cultural and economic benefits for peoples across the NPA. The findings of the study will be presented in the form of the report in the spring of 2021, as well as via webinars and social media channels.


The project aims at analysing and comparing the digitalisation of planning data in Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. The research team will provide an overview on digitalisation of planning data in 12 additional representative ESPON countries in order to offer a wider context for a better comparison. The study includes the scope, organisation, financing as well as the current and potential future uses of digital planning data. DIGIPLAN will contribute to the extended use of territorial evidence adding a European perspective to policy development at national, regional and local level.

Linking innovation and resilience: Synergy effects for regional development

This project aims to find commonalities and synergy effects of the in-depth studies on regional economic and social resilience, smart specialisation, digitalisation, as well as the so called “skills project”, all part of the activities under the ongoing Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development. The synergy project will focus on these interlinkages as well as the horizontal perspectives, such as gender, green transition, youth and arctic aspects, as highlighted by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The project is part of The Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017-2020. The final report of the Synergy project will be published by April 2020.

Digitalisation in rural and sparsely populated areas – joint Nordic-Baltic learning

The Nordic‐Baltic Region is at the forefront of digitalisation in Europe. Despite overall positive development, the impact of digitalisation on economy and society is unequal; with rural and sparsely populated areas often lagging behind with respect to the availability of digital infrastructure and the adoption of digital technologies. The project will investigate how to facilitate uptake of digital technologies and innovations by SMEs in rural and sparsely populated areas. It will explore the challenges and potential opportunities facing rural regions and their enterprises in the context of digitalisation and identify good examples of measures and policies to support digital transformation of rural businesses. The ultimate aim is to inspire Nordic and Baltic regions, their rural communities and rural enterprises to make the most out of digital opportunities and provide insights that will assist policy makers in creating an enabling environment for this work.

Health care and care with distance-spanning technologies, e-health and digitalisation

The Nordic countries face similar challenges regarding an ageing population and depopulation of the rural areas. This poses challenges to the traditional health care and care systems. One way of dealing with these challenges is to take advantage of digitalization and distance spanning technologies. The project Healthcare and Care with Distance-spanning Technologies (Vård och omsorg på distans, or VOPD) aims at supporting the development of distance spanning digital solutions in health care and care in the Nordic Region. It was initiated by the Swedish chairmanship program of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2018 and runs until 2020. The objective is to survey the use of digital technology in health care to display best practice and analyse regional development effects. The project has published 24 distance-spanning solutions for healthcare and social care. This publication contains the 24 most relevant digital solutions in healthcare and care in our five Nordic countries. What they have in common is that they are widespread; meaning that they are already implemented in many places, the solutions work and have a proven track record. Another distinguishing feature of these solutions is that they are a collection of different digital services that make a big difference, positive contribution, to many people daily life around the Nordic region. Nordregio is responsible for conducting case studies in the Nordic countries: Sogn og Fjordane and Luster kommune, East Iceland and Fjarðabyggð and Fljótsdalshéraði, Västerbotten and Storuman, Nord Denmark and Morsø Kommune, South Karelia and Lappeenranta.  More information is available at the project website: The following categories of distance solutions in health care and care are included in the survey:• Remote treatment – health care treatment provided from distance (incl. telemedicine, treatment and consultation via online tools and self-treatment)• Remote monitoring – monitoring from distance (incl. sensors, cameras, reminders and data…

Rural attractiveness in Norden

The attractiveness project seeks to capture the reasons behind why people choose to leave sparsely populated / remote and urban adjacent rural areas, why they move there, and why they always have stayed there. Looking at demographic and employment data over the past 10 years and in different rural areas in the Nordic region, we can see remarkable variations in terms of in- and outmigration and local job effects. Traditionally, the perspective has been that people follow jobs. However, jobs also follow people. During the last decades, increased prosperity, more leisure time, changes in job and housing structures, digitalisation, access to outdoor and recreation, lower housing prices and the wish to participate in local community life all are potential drivers for changed migration. This is what this project seeks to investigate. We are particularly interested in the motivation of young people to leave rural areas or stay and what local municipalities and businesses have done in order attract or keep people and jobs. To capture and understand these developments, the project combines quantitative analyses of population, demography and job change with qualitative analyses (interviews) and document analysis in order to understand why and how some municipalities do better than others. Interviewees include public authorities, businesses and entrepreneurs, high school students and families. The project envisages to produce four types of outcomes: Highly visual maps and tables (migration patterns, demography and jobs) Case Study profiles of selected municipalities from all Nordic countries & regions Indicator Set – What makes a region attractive Policy evaluation & future strategies – How to frame policies in order to create attractive localities Engaged Thematic Group members helped to identify the following case study areas: Find Rural Attractiveness Project Cases and Story-maps here:  The project contributes to the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development Programme.  

Digitalisation as a tool for sustainable Nordic regional development

Digital technologies have the potential to dramatically transform our lives. Despite this, research providing direct insight into regional governance in the digital age is limited. This project seeks to address this gap, exploring the priorities, challenges and opportunities regions face when working with digitalisation. The project explores digitalisation in the context of the priorities identified by the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions: Green transition, Supply of skills and capital, and Regional strategies for sustainable growth. Phase 1, a review of Nordic national policies related to digitalisation and a review of the relevant literature, has been completed and a preliminary report was presented to the thematic group in November 2017. According to the report: “Digitalisation is the transformation of all sectors of our economy, government and society based on the large-scale adoption of existing and emerging digital technologies”, research into digitalisation has generally been focused at the city scale (e.g. “smart” cities), on digitisation of specific industries or processes (e.g. digitisation of public services) or on developing grand narratives about the global implications of this shift. Relatively less attention has been paid to the governance frameworks that surround these processes from a regional perspective. From a policy perspective, the Nordic countries are often described as digital frontrunners, topping many European and even global rankings. Thus, perhaps unsurprisingly, all Nordic countries are in the process of implementing national strategies related to digitalisation. Overall, these policies have fairly similar goals with a focus on digital public services, supporting growth and innovation in business and ensuring digital security. Digital competence is also addressed by each country in varying ways. The remainder of the research will include regional case studies in all Nordic countries. The data collected will be analysed and combined with the findings of the literature and policy review to develop responses to the…

BSR Stars S3 – Smart specialization in bio-, circular and digital economy in the Baltic Sea Region

The concept of smart specialisation has challenged European regions to establish innovation driven development strategies that focus on areas of strength and competitive advantage. The BSR Stars S3 project seeks to enhance growth opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region, focusing on the bio-/circular and digital economy fields. The main objective is to improve capacities of the regions to implement regional smart specialization strategies (RIS3) through tools and methods that engage bio- and circular business and research, support management of innovation processes and enhance transnational cooperation opportunities. The BSR Stars S3 project has received a flagship status and contributes to realising the goals of overall Baltic Sea Region Stars flagship programme and thus to the Policy Area for Innovation (PA INNO) within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). The project contributes to realising the expanded scope of PA INNO – addressing the objectives for integrated support infrastructure for SMEs (through Enterprise Europe Network), for a strengthened digital internal market, and for further steps towards facilitating linkages and building longer-­term innovation partnerships. In addition, the BSR Stars S3 project contributes to realising the strategic priorities of the EUSBSR Action Plan Priority Area Bioeconomy (coordinated by the BSR Stars S3 project partner Nordic Council of Ministers). Key activities of BSR Stars S3 project include: Pilot tools and methods that will engage business and public actors also across borders and support development of new business value chains within the bio-/circular and digital economy fields, such as public-research-business matchmaking events, cross-sectoral business coaching, a voucher system for transnational usage of R&D facilities and S3 acceleration camp. Develop and pilot an online innovation process management tool and provide guidelines for the regions to enhance regional innovation process management and support infrastructures Organise regional peer/learning visits and produce policy recommendations to improve the knowledge…