The profile and relevance of the Hedmark-Dalarna cross-border area for innovation

Hedmark-Dalarna cannot be considered a functional region for innovation. While socio-cultural proximity is relatively high, the long distances are a barrier for the development of common economic activities. Connections between the central towns of the two counties are made difficult due to distance, limited infrastructure and lack of public transport. Cross-border commuting and trade flows are also limited, and interactions between the two counties are predominantly among the very sparsely populated border municipalities. The two regions have a common specialisation in tourism and forestry at the border. However, knowledge-based activities are located much farther from the border, are different on each side, and offer limited potential for innovation-related synergies.

Beyond tourism, and potentially the forestry industry, cross-border co-operation offers more perspective at the level of Inner Scandinavia or beyond, rather than between Hedmark and Dalarna. As high-wage regions specialised in industries based on the primary sector and with a relatively large public sector, the counties are challenged to diversify into competitive knowledge-intensive activities. The region is not a knowledge hub within the OECD, but there are ongoing innovation activities on both sides of the cross-border area, principally in the main towns. In both counties, cluster policies are in place to support the diversification of the economy away from capital-intensive industries. The industries which have the most innovation potential (e.g. bioenergy, biotechnology, energy efficiency) are still small and their connections are mostly with actors located outside of the cross-border area. The reality of these connections indicate that accessibility and opportunities may make more sense for Hedmark with the booming Oslo region to the south, and in some cases to key actors in Varmland across the border to the south. For Dalarna, there are also perhaps greater accessibility and innovation-related collaboration with actors in its Swedish neighbour to the south, Varmland. Given distances for some communities at the northern edge of both counties, collaborations with northern neighbours for innovation-related opportunities may also be considered. Greater internal connections of different parts of Inner Scandinavia therefore help the wider region as a whole. Within the Hedmark-Dalarna cross-border area, there are benefits from economies of scale to be reaped in the tourism industry through joint branding and infrastructure (the possible construction of a new airport) but the footprint of this co-operation - the border mountain area - is only a small part of the two counties.

Table 5.3. Innovation overview: Hedmark-Dalarna






Tertiary educational attainment as a share of labour force (2011)





Share of employment in high- and medium-tech manufacturing and services) (2011)





Total R&D expenditure as a share of GDP (2009)





Business R&D expenditure as a share of GDP (2009)





Share of R&D by private sector





PCT patents per million inhabitants (2008-10)*







Note: * Data for Hedmark and Oppland, and Varmland, Dalarna and Gavleborg.

Sources: Hedmark-Dalarna Border Committee (2013); OECD (2013), OECD Regional Statistics (database),

Table 5.4. Snapshot of the functional region for innovation: Hedmark-Dalarna




Region settlement patterns

Metropolitan area Network of small and medium-sized cities Sparsely populated with small towns

The two counties are sparsely populated with a few small towns.

Internal accessibility and flows (geographic proximity)




The connection between the two main centres of the counties is made difficult due to geographic distance and poor infrastructure (roads and public transport).

Industrial and knowledge specialisations (cognitive proximity)

Similar with complementarities Same Different

The two regions have a common specialisation in nature-based tourism at the border, and in forestry and wood processing. However, knowledge-based activities are not located on the border and are in different sectors.

Socio-cultural context (social proximity)

Very similar

Somewhat similar Different

This cross-border area has a similar socio-cultural context, even if national differences in business culture exist.

Innovation system interactions

Pervasive Hub-to-hub On the border

Existing cross-border interactions are limited to the border municipalities, specialised in the tourism industry.

Level of innovation development across border

Balanced, strong

Balanced, weak


Neither region is an OECD knowledge hub, nor are they specialised in primary sector-based activities. On both sides, knowledge-based firms and clusters are emerging, albeit not with cross-border linkages.

Driving force and key actors for the Hedmark-Dalarna cross-border area

Local actors see mutual benefit in building critical mass and improving accessibility to the ski destination lying at the border. The impetus for formal cross-border co-operation was the TRUST (“Growth and Regional Development in Scandinavia Together”) project in 2008, which centred on the removal of border obstacles impeding the mobility of people and firm interactions and improving external accessibility. This focus applies particularly to the tourism industry and the natural areas located along the border.

The establishment of a cross-border effort is driven by the local and regional authorities, not by the private sector. The two counties identified the relevance of addressing border obstacles and economies of scale in tourism jointly. Businesses and business support organisations play a limited role in the cross-border co-operation, except for the tourism industry with Skistar, the large Swedish firm managing the ski resorts in the two counties. Its interest in having a better infrastructure (airport) for accessing the area is obvious. Other tourism firms tend to be very small and are only focused on the local market and are not yet in a position to market their offer to a wider clientele. However, they can exploit linkages with larger firms in the tourism sector to develop higher-end products.

Co-operation between higher education institutions (HEIs) goes beyond the cross-border area. The small university colleges located in the region have an interest in developing research linkages with larger universities, located outside of the area. Because of their orientation towards regional specificities, they have, however, developed some joint activities in distance learning and in connection with the needs of the tourism industry.

Table 55. Snapshot of the rationale and relevance for cross-border collaboration:




Relevance for cross-border co-operation (strong, moderate, weak, not present)

Economies of scale

Combine resources for efficiency of investment, larger labour markets or access to wider business and knowledge networks to increase critical mass; often used to overcome peripherality


Political recognition

Increase the recognition and strengths of areas that are far from capitals to better negotiate and compete for resources from higher levels of government



Build on diversity of assets in terms of research, technology and economic base, as well as supply chain linkages



Increase internal recognition of the cross-border area as well as its external attractiveness to firms and skilled labour


Border issues

Address the day-to-day opportunities and challenges associated with flows of people, goods and services (including public services) across the border


Note: The assessment of relevance relates to the actual relevance in current cross-border collaboration, not necessarily to the potential relevance.

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