Regional Innovation Monitor - RIM Plus

Nordregio will provide the Regional Innovation Monitor (RIM) platform with regional innovation information for the eight Swedish NUTS2-regions and prepare regional innovation reports.

In the context of the growth and investment package set out in the Investment Plan of the European Commission, the Regional Innovation Monitor Plus (RIM Plus)  provides a unique platform for sharing knowledge and know-how on major innovation and industrial policy trends in the EU regions.

The main tasks of Nordregio include:

  • Collection and update of information in the RIM repository (policy measures, policy documents, organisations, regional profiles)
  • Preparation of in-depth Regional innovation reports
  •  Arrange visits to regions to promote RIM Plus activities (2013-2014)

 


 

RIM Report 2016 North Middle Sweden: current trends and challenges

(download the report here)

The North Middle Sweden region has an internationally competitive industry sector backed by long-established science-business collaboration and strong cluster organisations with capabilities for development and diversification. The presence of a strong industrial base (i.e. the forest industry) has provided a solid platform for the transition to the forest-based bioeconomy. The new trends in the manufacturing sector of North Middle Sweden include: recycling of biological raw materials, feedstock, biorefining and especially lignin development (a side product of paper production). The region has a well-developed innovation system but has a rather weak output, mainly due to several factors, such as the education level of the region and a low proportion of entrepreneurs to carry the knowledge and expertise into the market in the form of new goods and services. To ensure the region’s resilience and competitiveness in the future, a few challenges should be addressed:

Internationalisation of cooperation structures

The internationalisation activities of a network or cluster and of its members can happen more or less by coincidence. It can also be controlled purposefully by becoming firmly embedded into the strategy of the network/ cluster. Through a number of projects and programmes of financial assistance networks and clusters have been and are still being implemented in many European countries. This is often done without fundamental analyses of demand or a more accurate knowledge of the needs of the target group. The aim of bioeconomy is a sustainable production and use of natural resources. A cross-sectorial and systematic approach, with a basis in circular economy, is the main focus. Programmes, project activities and networking initiatives in the bioeconomy sector are needed in a macro-regional context — initiating, catalysing and facilitating activities to realise bioeconomy not just in North Middle Sweden but also in the Nordic Region, the Baltic Sea Region and Europe.

Biotechnological skills in vocational education and training

Although wide collaboration has been established with academia, the biotechnology cooperation network lacks a clear reference to vocational skills development, which is regarded as a main condition for realising a cross-sectorial and systemic approach to bioeconomy. Sustainable growth of the bioeconomy sector depends on several interlinked factors, of which one important one that still remains to be realised is that of vocational specialists trained within subject areas that have been identified by the key stakeholders in the sector. Clear occupational standards need to be developed in North Middle Sweden, followed by the development of industry-relevant qualifications and curricula. The link with the university and research fields are long established, however vocational standards and qualifications need to be developed that respond to the growing demands from a growing bioeconomy industry cluster.

Technology-focused intermediate institutions

During recent decades, Swedish innovation and technology-transfer institutes have indicated a tendency to concentrate in larger urban areas. The lack of regional representation of these intermediaries leaves sparsely populated regions in a disadvantageous position when it comes to promoting the diffusion of R&D results and the uptake of advanced manufacturing technologies by local industries. This national trend appears to be turning, but the presence and capacity of technology-focused institutes, for instance, in North Middle Sweden remains insufficient for realising the full potential of regional innovations. Both the cluster organisations and research institutes have a key role to play as policy mechanisms for driving industrial competitiveness. The low number of technology-focused innovation centres holds back efforts to scale up research and innovation into commercial applications. In order to tackle this issue, dialogue and common effort between the national level and the regions is essential.