The Nordic countries are facing challenges with regard to a growing population with an extended lifespan, and a rising number of senior citizens, patients with chronic diseases and people with lifestyle diseases. But there are effective and sustainable solutions that can increase quality of life for Nordic citizens.
Mona Truelsen, who had her last day as Senior Innovation Adviser at Nordic Innovation earlier this spring, has worked with innovation and health issues for many years, and has a deep understanding of the full importance of Nordic collaboration. We meet for a short talk at one of her favorite spots in Oslo, the Oslo City Hall. She has widespread experience in developing collaboration between different Nordic stakeholders, companies and the public sector within the field of health and welfare.
Why is this Nordic collaboration important?
“We have so much to learn from each other in the Nordic region. We have to a large extent similar social and structural systems and we have focus on the same challenges and because of that we can form more tailored initiatives in the Nordic region. It is important to us to be transparent and develop our solutions together with our citizens. By working together, we benefit from each other’s experience and skills,” says Mona Truelsen.
In recent years, she and her colleagues have been designing the Health, Demography and Quality of Life program, which is one of the three comprehensive programs given main priority by Nordic Innovation during the 2018–2021 period. Health, Demography and Quality of Life seeks to connect people, data and innovation for a better life. The goal is to shift the focus to prevention and use of health data. If we want to continue to provide excellent healthcare in the Nordics, there is an urgency for a radical redesign of our healthcare systems where a shift to focusing on prevention and use of health data is clue.
We have similar social and structural systems and focus on the same challenges and because of that we can form more tailored initiatives in the Nordic region.– Mona Truelsen, former Senior Innovation Adviser at Nordic Innovation
What makes it so valuable to work together with representatives of the Nordic countries?
“It is exciting to develop solutions that can be used in different areas as well as research and welfare activities. The Nordic countries have a population of more than 27 million people combined. Together we can contribute to progress in this field, work with the long-term solutions and shape the vision for the future. I really do believe that by 2030 the Nordics will be the most sustainable and integrated health region in the world,” says Mona Truelsen.
Mona has worked with a number of health-related innovation programs at Nordic Innovation since 2011. What does an innovation adviser at Nordic Innovation do?
“We evaluate and initiate projects that might not otherwise have been able to get started at a Nordic level. We support new ideas, we challenge and support companies and organisations to think in new ways, and we work with organisations, networks and clusters in all five Nordic countries. We have an agile approach and are willing to take chances and experiment and sometimes take a chance on failing to achieve success together,” explains Mona Truelsen.
After nearly eight years at the organisation she understands the importance of working long-term. Of not letting go of the goal when everyone is looking for a short-term solution. The work is inspiring, and she is especially proud of the outcome when new collaborative constellations emerge as a result of gathering different parties to solve present challenges.
As was done in the Nordic prime ministers’ initiative Nordic Welfare Solutions, where joint Nordic welfare products and services have been introduced, tested and attracted interest in the German, US and Canadian markets.
Mona also highlights the overall success in creating a needs-driven innovation tool, a challenge prize competition called the Nordic Independent Living Challenge together with the five Nordic capital cities where Nordic startups, environment for testing and new business models were developed. She is proud of projects that reaches the goal of encouraging cooperation, supporting networks and enhancing Nordic co-creation.