The Oresund cross-border innovation policy mix

The main innovation-related cross-border initiatives are platforms funded by successive generations of European Territorial Co-operation (Interreg) projects. Public support for innovation is not based on jointly designed and implemented programmes, but rather takes the form of temporary projects, such as cross-border cluster initiatives. Many of these projects stop after the initial public funding period ends, raising questions of both project quality and sustainability issues. One ongoing initiative is the Medicon Valley Alliance, but other cross-border cluster platforms exist, or have existed, in areas such as ICT, food, environment and energy, new materials, and sustainable building. Some clusters only continued on one side of the border upon project completion. Another initiative was the Oresund University, which played a key role in developing cross-border projects, notably the cluster platforms. The Oresund University formally closed down in 2010, in part related to problems with national regulations regarding higher education, but certain areas of co-operation continue through a variety of projects.

Table 8.6. Snapshot of governance characteristics: The Oresund

(Oresund in bold)




National political capitals

Yes, each side Yes, at least one


Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, is part of the Oresund, while Skane is located more than 600 kilometres away from Stockholm (the capital city of Sweden).

Longevity of public co-operation

>20 years

10-20 years <10 years

Cross-border integration in Oresund is long-standing, starting well before the opening of the bridge in 2000, and further promoted at Nordic level.

Innovation policy competencies

Balanced, strong Balanced, weak Unbalanced

Even if both Denmark and Sweden are centralised countries in an OECD perspective for innovation policy, the level of autonomy of the Skane region for supporting innovation collaboration is higher than that of Danish regions. However, regions on both sides have resources for innovation and R&D investment.

Political commitment

Balanced, strong

Balanced, weak Unbalanced

The overall commitment to the Oresund integration goal is high among respective regions, particularly relative to other cross-border areas, even if there is stronger interest from Skane than from the Danish side. At the national level, the political commitment is not as strong.

Institutionalisation and legitimacy

Present, strong

Present, weak Not present

The Oresund Committee and its supporting institutions provide strong institutionalisation and legitimacy to the area.

Actors in governance

Public sector

University/research actors Firms

Mix of actors (triple helix)

Public commitment drives the governance, which is not matched by strong bottom-up engagement by firms. University and research actors play a key role in cross-border linkages, albeit termination of the Oresund University and associated network decreases the direct joint university engagement.

Funding sources

Mainly public

Mixed public/private Mainly private

Nordic and EU sources of public funding, with co-funding from local authorities, are the main funding sources to nurture the Oresund initiatives. Private co-financing of these activities remains low.

There is a lack of cross-border policies to match the governance vision. National authorities on both sides of the border do not develop joint policies to support Oresund initiatives. Despite political declarations, there are few instances (outside of the Nordic Council of Ministers) where national authorities exchange and decide on joint action to support the Oresund. One exception is that Danish national public R&D funding can, in principle, be used for cross-border co-operation, but this is not translated into practice.

There is untapped potential for a better Oresund policy mix for innovation. Regions on both sides are important actors with competences and budgetary resources to promote R&D and innovation. Beyond the existing cluster experiments, there is ground to investigate opportunities for cross-border synergies in other areas (such as merging the two cleantech cluster organisations - the Sustainable Business Hub in Skane and the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster). However, given that some prior experiments did not survive, care should be taken in future initiatives to identify actors and projects with a genuine cross-border value-added. Extending the work of business incubators, science parks and start-up support initiatives over the border can also contribute to greater cross-border benefits for both sides. Joint innovative public procurement and open data strategies are other opportunities. Using the two healthcare markets as a source for innovation is another area under consideration, but a challenge given different regulations in the sector. Removing barriers towards patient mobility across borders would reinforce opportunities in healthcare. The work around the new scientific infrastructure can be a catalyser for helping to better align Danish and Swedish innovation-related policies. Finally, a more innovation-driven Oresund would need to be supported by an extension of the coverage of the Oresund Database and deepening Orestat’s work to cover innovation.

Table 8.7. Cross-border policy instruments: The Oresund



Strategy and policy development

Benchmarking and policy learning

Analytical exercise (like mapping of clusters or value chains, technology foresight exercises)

Orestat, Oresund Integration Index, Oresund Institute studies

Joint branding of cross-border area

Life science ambassadors from Medicon Valley Alliance Brand IT (branding for ICT in Oresund) 2009-12 Oresund Magazine and promotional activities

R&D support

Joint public research programmes

Formerly: Oresund Contracts

Joint research infrastructure, shared access to research facilities

Formerly: Oresund University

ESS and MAX IV (larger territorial scope)

Cross-border private R&D funding programmes (generic and thematic)

Technology transfer and innovation support

Cross-border innovation advisory services (vouchers, intermediaries)

Advisory to spin-off and knowledge-intensive start-ups

Other technology transfer centres and extension programmes

S&T parks and innovation networks

Cross-border science, technology parks and incubators

Cluster or network networks initiatives

Medicon Valley Alliance (also supports international cluster networking), Oresund Foodbest, Oresund Material Innovation Community, Oresund Energy, (formerly) Brand IT

Human capital

Scholarships/student exchanges

Formerly: Oresund University

Joint university or other higher education programmes

Formerly: Oresund University Cross-border industrial PhD

Joint PhD programmes and proof-of-concept programmes

between Lund and Copenhagen universities

Various temporary Interreg university co-operation projects

Talent attraction, retention or mobility scheme; cross-border labour market assistance

Oresund Direkt EURES

Other instruments

Financing (venture capital funds or angel networks)

Public procurement


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