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 following questions:

  1. What are the priorities / focus areas of digitalisation strategies in the Nordic counties?
  2. What are the priorities / focus areas of regions with respect to digitalisation? How are these related to and / or supported by national, Nordic and EU agendas?
  3. How are regions dealing with the challenges and opportunities related to digitalisation? (particularly with respect to the green transition and labour market impacts)
  4. Where are the strongest potentials for knowledge-sharing / collaboration between Nordic regions?

The final report will be launched in late 2018 and will be followed by policy seminars in the Nordic countries. Please contact us if you want to know more about the project, have a reaction to the discussion paper or are interested in hosting a policy seminar in your region.

Discussion paper

The discussion paper explores digitalisation in Nordic regions. It develops a common understanding of digitalisation in the context of sustainable Nordic regional development and gives an overview of digitalisation policies at the EU and Nordic national levels.

To provide the feedback, please contact:

Linda Randall

Download the discussion paper