Driving force and key actors for the Oresund cross-border area

Achieving greater critical mass is the main rationale for establishing the Oresund. Reaping the benefits of agglomeration economies by creating a larger metropolitan region, with an integrated labour market, serves to overcome the disadvantages of the area’s relative peripherality globally. This is a more important problem for Skane in a Swedish national context, but even Copenhagen on its own is a small city in a global perspective. Expanding the size of the labour market increases the possibility of skills matching for its workers, therefore overcoming border obstacles for an integrated labour market is a major driving force in building the Oresund. Common drawbacks of metropolitan regions relate to congestion costs as well as higher land and housing prices. The Oresund helps bring the best of both worlds by combining the advantages of the two types of regions, metropolitan (Copenhagen) and intermediary regions (Malmo-Lund).

Exploiting complementarities in knowledge assets is another driving force for the Oresund that has benefits for both sides, though this could be more fully exploited. The bi-national life science cluster is a flagship initiative within the Oresund, supported by the Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA), that contributes to the region’s international visibility.

While MVA promotes external linkages to global life science knowledge hubs, the potential for collaboration projects across the border remains under-exploited, in part due to the loss of a key pharmaceutical player on the Swedish side (AstraZeneca). Actors in other sectors, such as food, ICT and cleantech, are also working towards the goal of mobilising their strengths to reap benefits from cross-border collaboration, but lessons should be drawn as to why several previous cross-border cluster associations have essentially reverted back to only one side of the Oresund.

Branding is another goal in the Oresund project. From the mid-1990s, many “O“ organisations and initiatives were born to give life to the “Oresund” brand. This has been used for developing an internal identity and networking. it has also helped with international profiling, along with the MVA. Several possible new brand names for the region have been under discussion.

Table 8.5. Snapshot of the rationale and relevance for cross-border collaboration: The Oresund



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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