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The Nordic Digital Ecosystem Actors, Strategies, Opportunities

This report describes possibilities for Nordic digital collaboration by providing an overview of the actors in the Nordic digital ecosystem and their characteristics, an analysis of the actors’ will and abilities to collaborate, and a discussion of potent
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It seems evident that the public actors see benefits in enhanced Nordic knowledge sharing and joint projects in the area of digitalization. The results indicate that the actors believe such collaboration can:

a) Provide more efficient ways of developing and delivering digital services within each country.

b) Provide cross-border services to citizens residing and enterprises doing business in the Nordic countries.

c) Spearhead European initiatives.

d) Provide better market opportunities for Nordic-based ICT businesses.

Through a mapping of the actors in the Nordic digital ecosystem, and an analysis of recent international benchmarks, the report shows that Nordic countries have a comparatively high level of digital service provision. Furthermore, the countries have highly developed specialized sectors, which deliver many complex and high quality government services. The modernization of the Nordic public sectors through digitalization seems to be backed by formal plans and political commitment. The strategic goals are basically the same and revolve around improving government services through the sharing of information resources between government agencies.The principle of “once-only” registration of relevant data, which is also embraced by the EU 1, appears to be common ground for the Nordic countries.

Although the Nordic countries are high achievers, the study indicates that there are notable differences between the countries in terms of the topics they excel in. The ways in which the Nordic countries work towards achieving these goals also differ a lot. On the one hand, we find differences that can be explained by different national or political priorities. On the other hand, there are significant differences in how the countries govern their national digitalization efforts. The latter can be viewed as an obstacle to formalizing Nordic digital collaboration. The coordinating bodies of countries such as Norway and Sweden are to a lesser degree able to mandate such collaboration between agencies than their peers in countries such as Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

The study indicates that most public actors are involved in Nordic collaboration of some kind. The Nordic countries look to one another for inspiration, and there are a handful of cross-national pilot projects and reports. The actors see the benefits of greater collaboration on digitalization within the Nordic region. However, the countries seem to lack formal arenas for knowledge sharing and coordinating joint projects. The report also indicates that there is a lack of political attention to Nordic digital collaboration. The report shows a somewhat reticent attitude towards joint development projects among the Nordic national CIOs, and clear business cases are seen as an absolute prerequisite for enhanced collaboration. Furthermore, in terms of resources, the EU is the most important international arena for actors in the digital ecosystem, and Nordic collaboration is expected to add value to this.

This publication was made as part of the Innovative Nordic Digital Solutions program.