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International collaboration a must for a successful green transition

12 October 2020
Gothenburg is one of the world's leading innovation regions, but we cannot face the climate challenges of the future alone. And now, 21 clusters, cities and regions in seven countries around the North Sea have held a final conference – online – following four years of collaboration to find innovative solutions within the energy sector.

Ten years from now, Gothenburg's residents will live in a socially sustainable city with a climate footprint approaching zero. As in so many other cases, in the light of such a speedy transition the road to success demands sustainable solutions, innovation and cross-border collaborations. Seldom has the need been so great, and Gothenburg cannot make the journey alone.

Northern Connections is a partnership between 21 stakeholders in seven countries in the North Sea region – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland. The project has been under way since 2016 and its purpose is to promote innovative collaborations between companies and clusters in the energy sector to develop sustainable solutions in, for example, cities. The objectives have been to strengthen the capacity for joint innovation, to accelerate the green transition and to involve more companies in innovation collaborations. In turn, this offers companies the opportunity to attract resources and gain access to a larger market.

"This type of collaboration is incredibly important. Northern Connections enables our innovative entrepreneurs to get involved in challenges across Europe, even though these companies might not have fully scaled up their products or services yet," says Maria Strömberg, Head of Clusters and Innovation at Business Region Göteborg, one of the Northern Connections partners.

Gothenburg presented the results of the work conducted over the past few years at Northern Connections' final conference, which was held online.

"It was extremely inspiring to hear all the insights into how we can work together internationally to realise sustainable solutions, increase the competitiveness of green companies and strengthen European innovation. For Gothenburg, which as a port city has always been open to new business relationships and cultural influences, it's been natural to proactively champion innovative and cross-border collaborations. They're vital to the success of our transition and they'll also ensure the competitiveness of the region's trade and industry," says Maria.

The activities arranged within the framework of Northern Connections include the Living Labs, which have given innovative companies the chance to showcase their solutions in fields such as energy supply and urban development. The challenges can concern fossil-free construction, freight and traffic flows or energy solutions for a new city district.

"The fossil-free preschool Hoppet in Gothenburg's Backa district, which will be completed in 2021, is one of the seven Living Labs that we've arranged so far," says Lars Bern, Area Manager Innovation at Business Region Göteborg.

The innovation climate in Western Sweden and Gothenburg is one of the world's foremost, and this is one of the key reasons behind the great development progress seen in the region in recent years.

"Gothenburg and Western Sweden stand out as the strongest of Sweden's metropolitan regions, and at the end of 2019 were ranked twelfth out of the 238 regions across 23 European countries in the EU Regional Innovation Scoreboard. This is confirmation that we excel at developing and testing new solutions," says Lars.

"As a city and a region, we have a great responsibility when it comes to formulating the requirements for how we are to develop the sustainable society – as well as a huge influence in steering that development in the right direction since the city is such a major stakeholder. The fact that the City of Gothenburg chooses the suppliers which best meet our ecological and social sustainability requirements really makes a difference," says Maria.

Maria Strömberg 
Head of Cluster and Innovation, Business Region Göteborg, 
031-367 61 10

Bengt Kjellin
Press Manager, Business Region Göteborg
031-367 61 64

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Maria Strömberg
Director Cluster & Innovation
Area of work: Cluster development Innovation Cleantech
Area of concern: Management team Business development and financing


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