Regional Innovation Node shall coordinate stakeholders and facilitate innovation to drive regional development and transformation of enterprises into the future
Elevating innovation and driving regional development in large but sparse populated regions is challenging. In Region Gävleborg (part of North Middle Sweden) the concept of Regional Innovation Nodes has proven to be successful as a tool to coordinate and facilitate innovation and industrial transformation in a regional setting. Four nodes are being implemented, the first one out – Regional Innovation Node North Hälsingland is role model.
Main stakeholders in the node are RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Community of Hudiksvall and Region Gävleborg. The stakeholders have formed the node as an association. Membership fee (base funding) is substantial enough to perform the core operations of the mission. The mission is established politically in regional and community councils. This process ensures strong political support and strategic alignment. The operation of the node is entrusted to the member RISE. By this setup the node gets a base funding that can be used also in public projects as co-financing.
The node operates pre-incubator Propell Innovation to attract innovators within a wide scope. Innovations with extra potential are elevated to regional incubator Movexum. The node operates the digital Innovation hub Fiber Optic Valley for Sustainable Digital Transformation.
Among targets for node to fulfil are: (i) Improved innovation rate, (ii) Attract capital for innovations and (iii) Multiplicate the base funding by 4 times in project funding.
The node is operated by 15 people within technical areas but mainly as project managers and support to start-ups and SMEs in digital transformation.
Funding for the node depends on project situation but a normal yearly turnover is around 2 MEuro.
Evidence of success
The Regional Innovation Node serves as role model for the new nodes in the region. The node attracts project funding for public projects supporting digital transformation and innovation. The node is in May 2020 one of Sweden’s candidates for European Digital Innovation Hubs, Digital Europe programme. The node attracts innovations and start-ups as well as capital for growth. Until May 2020 the node has supported 161 innovations, delivered 19 to incubation and 22 new companies have been started.
The start-up environment and the support to SMEs are recognized by target groups. But Innovation Node also depends on strong political support. Results are essential but also to get the results known in society and in politics. Published success stories has proven to be a good information tool.
Potential for learning or transfer
Many regions in Europe struggles with elevating innovation and driving regional development in large but sparse populated regions. With the Regional Innovation Node setup with three stakeholders RISE, Region Gävleborg and Hudiksvall municipality as a concept has been created and proven to be very successful.
Stearing board for the node contains both President for Regional Council as well as President Local Community Council. This ensures political anchoring in strategies for the node. The operating responsibility of RISE ensures a professional implementation but also gives national and international attraction to the node. By this setup the node is not only regional/local but also works in national and international contexts for regional development and for Sustainable Regional Transformation.
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