Portrait of Magnus Buer in Nordic Innovation's offices.

“Trust is a Key Component in Nordic Cooperation and Innovation”

He argues that many of the innovative collaborations that are created in the Nordics would not have been possible without the trust that exists between people in the region. And when the pandemic changed the way Nordic Innovation had to facilitate cooperation, by having to work digitally, Buer states that the Nordic trust became increasingly relevant.

No day is the same

Magnus Buer has a background as a journalist, with a degree in both journalism and culture and communication. Since joining Nordic Innovation, he has focused on facilitating and strengthening Nordic innovation collaboration through effective communication. That includes creating communication strategies, developing an accessible website, producing engaging text, photo and video content, as well as building relations in the Nordic innovation ecosystem.

“There are no real regular days at Nordic Innovation. One day, I write articles about projects, which means conducting interviews and sourcing photos. The next day, I might travel to Helsinki to document an event through text, photos and videos – then create social media content – and the week after I might present communication guidelines or strategies for our partners, says Buer and adds:

“That is also what makes the job so fun. No day is the same, and I get to meet some of the most forward-thinking people within so many different sectors and from all the Nordic countries.”

Celebrating the international women's day in New York in 2018 with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway.
Nordic entrepreneurs in New York in 2018.

Coordinating a royal event

When asked about some of the highlights during his years at Nordic Innovation, Magnus mentions leading the communication efforts on the Nordic prime ministers’ initiative programs Nordic Sustainable Cities and Nordic Welfare Solutions, which received very positive external reviews.

“Those programs were quite communicative to begin with. I am grateful that our program managers involved our communication team in basically all parts of the programs, and I think we achieved a lot”, says Magnus.

He also emphasizes the finalization of the Nordic Independent Living Challenge, a challenge prize competition to provide new solutions to the elderly and people with disabilities to make it possible for them to live independently in their own homes. The competition ended with a grand prize ceremony at Oslo City Hall featuring His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.

“The Nordic Independent Living Challenge award ceremony really took a lot of effort”, he says.

He did all the strategic communication planning in the lead-up, the media outreach and coordination, coordinating all practicalities with Oslo City Hall and the Royal House – not to mention writing scripts for videos that were being shown and event staying at the office until 23:30 the day before to finish all the slides.

“That feeling when everything actually ran smoothly and everyone was really happy afterwards, was pretty awesome. It is also very rewarding to see that a lot of the startups that participated are now really successful and actually making people’s lives better”, he adds.

Camilla Strand from the winning team AbleOn Medical at the Nordic Independent Living Challenge awards ceremony.

What would you say are the key similarities between people in the Nordics?

“We share a lot, especially when it comes to values such as equality, openness, and trust. I believe this is quite unique for the Nordic countries. We work a lot with companies in the region and observe that the trust that exists between them makes a lot of interesting collaborations possible, projects that would probably be difficult to create many other places in the world.”

When it comes to innovation and business, there are also many similarities between the Nordic countries. Together, Buer thinks this creates a unique platform for collaboration.

“We share cultures, backgrounds and experiences, also when it comes to business. This makes collaboration easier, because everyone comes from pretty much the same place and has more or less similar goals about where to end up.”

How do you facilitate cooperation between organizations in the region?

“You have to meet and talk to a lot of people in order to align interests and connect them. For this to happen, you must create arenas for them to meet each other, which we do in a lot of ways. That might be through calls for proposals, innovation competitions, tenders – or events and conferences.

In what way has the pandemic changed the way you interact with organizations in the region?

“The pandemic made us unable to meet people physically, which was a huge part of our job. At first, it was a challenge, as I think it was for everyone. However, I believe Nordic Innovation and our partners adjusted really well and pretty fast,” says Magnus Buer.

Essentially, Nordic Innovation’s projects and programs have gone according to plan because they have been able to continue the cooperation digitally.

“All of our partners handled the digital transition very well. I think this relates back to what we talked about regarding commonalities in the Nordics. We are similar in the sense that we come from similar places and want the same thing. This makes collaboration easier, even though we cannot meet in person. Trust is a big factor in making the collaboration go smoothly, also through digital tools. In the Nordics, we do not have to meet physically to trust each other.”

Participating at Slush 2018.
On board Ópal – the world’s first retrofitted plugin hybrid sail boat.

What would you identify as the main international challenge where you think the Nordics can contribute to the solution?

“I must confess that what quickly comes to mind is the climate crisis. Perhaps we are not model countries when it comes to emissions, but I think we are in a unique position to find innovative and sustainable solutions to global climate challenges – and implement them. We are strong economies and high technological competence here in the Nordics, which makes the potential for innovation strong,” says Buer before adding:

“By collaborating, we can build on the strengths of the different Nordic countries to create solutions that could not have been done on a national level. I think we are on the forefront in many areas when it comes to sustainability, and we can develop these areas further together.”

What kind of role do you think the Nordics have the potential to take in the climate challenge?

“I think we should take a leading role. This includes inventing solutions and actually implementing – and provide business cases for true sustainable growth”, says Buer.

Why is Nordic collaboration important?

“Because we are stronger together. When working in markets outside of the Nordics, we often experience how small the Nordic countries are compared to other markets. Individually, we are not always that significant. Internationally, people also tend to regard the Nordics as one region – and see the Nordic region as one market, not five individual countries. That is what we hear a lot from international stakeholders,” says Buer.

“However, if you combine all the Nordic economies, we are the 11th largest economy in the world. That makes us a significant market in the global economy. We also have a lot of complementary strengths within the Nordics. Together, we can build on each other’s strengths, and achieve more than what we could do as individual countries,” says Buer.

Boat house in the Faroe Islands.
Inside Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

All photos except main photo and the Nordic Independent Living Challenge photo by Magnus Buer.