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Need to know - Nordic innovation policies for the future

  • Published 06/03/2003
  • Last updated 20/05/2011
The Nordic Industrial Fund has, through its initiative in the SME Forum, completed the first round of seven projects linked to the Nordic countries' innovation and enterprise policies. This report offers a short description of the projects together with results. Our objective in this undertaking has been to make a contribution to the development of innovation policies in the Nordic countries.

A number of policy implications and recommendations have come to light.
Naturally, it depends on the reader's position in the Nordic countries' innovation systems as to whether all conclusions and recommendations will be of interest. Nevertheless, in my view, all these projects offer valuable insights to those in ministries and organizations who have development of effective innovation and enterprise policy measures as their domain.

From The Nordic Industrial Fund's perspective, the following conclusions are
of particular interest.

 

  • The Nordic governments should give higher priority to the development of a holistic innovation policy that cuts across the still-disconnected and disjointed policies for industrial and economic policy, education and research policy and regional development policy. It is time for action.
  • It is especially important to develop a policy for entrepreneurship that can combine all the disparate measures and incentives aimed at creating more entrepreneurs and a higher rate of growth in existing young enterprises. Only in this way will it be possible to change the low level of entrepreneurial activity in the Nordic countries.
  • The music industry is one specific example of a growth sector, in its own right and relative to other sectors in the Nordic countries. However, only when policy-makers understand the need for coordinated policies for this diverse - even fragmented - sector will it be possible to realize the full value-added potential of this particular branch of the Nordic entertainment industry.
  • The risk capital market in the Nordic countries is indeed immature. In particular, there seems to be a scarcity of investment potential in the early stages of product, process or market development. Knowing that substantial financial resources are presently bound up in investments offering low returns, it seems only logical to propose that mechanisms should be developed to revitalize this capital.
  • It seems to be a common opinion that high-tech spin-offs are a significant contributing factor to value-added growth and innovation. However, a recent study suggests that high-tech spin-off is in many respects a rather marginal phenomenon. Policy-makers should re-evaluate current measures in the light of such findings, and consider whether alternative use of resources might yield better results.
  • Universities and other higher educational institutions are often said to provide a vital stimulus to the business environment. Not necessarily. Only if these institutions possess technical faculties and curricula capable of satisfying present and/or future demand for competencies in the region they can play a significant part in promoting regional growth.
  • Finally, but perhaps most important of all, there is a need for competence and capacity building in policy-making authorities and organisations. These need to develop strategic plans for policy learning, plans that include lifelong learning, new forms of cross-organisational working groups and the creation of social arenas. Only then will it be possible to design and implement the most cost-effective measures aimed at improving general and specific conditions of the innovation systems.