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Regionally Differentiated Innovation Policy in the Nordic Countries - Applying the Lisbon strategy

Applying the Lisbon strategy. Nordregio Report 2008:2

This report provides an analysis of the Nordic innovation policies of relevance for regional innovation systems. The central question addressed is how national policy makers can best apply the broad Lisbon strategy goals to the specific creation of regional innovation policies adapted to the Nordic context.

Meeting the ideals and goals of the Lisbon Agenda may imply significant changes in the Nordic countries. Specifically, if innovation is to be stimulated in the public sector this demands an increased role for the market in the production of goods and services produced by the public sector. The data available tends to highlight the fact that the metropolitan areas dominate in terms of innovation performance and potential across the Nordic countries. Regional differences must thus be considered in the context of the development of innovation policy instruments, while more sophisticated enabling instruments will undoubtedly also be needed.

In the EU context the regions are viewed as being the actors best able to appreciate local and regional needs and thus best placed to develop innovation policies. Historically, the state has controlled innovation policy in the Nordic countries. The regional level may therefore need to be granted formal competence for the development of regional innovation policies.

The EU commission has asked for the application of a broad view of innovation. Innovation policy in the Nordic countries has traditionally however been concerned, predominantly, with research and development policies, though all of the Nordic countries are currently in the course of adopting a broader approach to innovation. By its very nature this broader approach ensures that a wider and ever expanding range of policy fields address the notion of innovation. Better coordination between the various policy fields addressing innovation may thus be needed in order to avoid competing or overlapping measures at the national and regional levels.