Regional Development for Growth and Smart Specialisation in East Sweden

by Lars-Goran Larsson on January 18, 2014

Strategic governance and virtual cooperation structure to stimulate regional growth

Quad helixThe Region of Östergötland in Sweden has for the last few years worked with development and implementation of a new, unique virtual organisation and Quad-helix based cooperation structure for governance and execution of its Regional development plan and Regional innovation strategy. Bearing is in this project engaged in process design and project support.

The extensive work to establish a common platform for economic and regional growth – East Sweden Business Region (ESBR) is manifested in a work model where roles, responsibilities and cross-functional collaboration is defined. We have developed common “tools” and clarified roles, responsibilities and synergies. The goal is to create better conditions for local business activities and develop the regional perspective for better utilization of common resources and strengthen the overall competitiveness of the county of Östergötland.

The overall objective is to strengthen the region’s growth in line with the regional vision targets set in the Regional Development Plan, RUP, and the Regional Innovation Strategy, RIS – as well as the EU Horison 2020 and the National innovation strategy.

The Regional Innovation Strategy (RIS), is the result of collaboration and agreement between the county’s publicly funded growth engines: Östergötland County Administrative Board, East Sweden Regional Council, Linköping University, Östergötland County Council, ALMI Business Partner, and the 13 municipalities.

The work model is a joint effort

The work model has been developed in a tight cooperation process between the regional business development stakeholders. In a series of workshops has more than 40 local and regional key players come together to find common solutions to both local and regional challenges. In these workshops knowledge and experience has been exchanged and melted down into a new multi-level governance structure which today has become the foundation to strengthen industrial development in Östergötland. The participants has been able to take advantage of and use detailed business and market analyses, development of tools/systems and work methods, to satisfy common needs in order to better deliver valuable and adequate support to the local and regional business life.

Cooperation through multi-level governance

It has been of paramount importance for the project to ensure good co-operation and clear interfaces between the local and regional levels. This way we are able to optimize results from the combined resources and every player knows their natural roles in the model. It is a parallel top-down and bottom-up work process which is important for the whole system to be able to release its full potential. This means that ESBR now deliver more benefit to the support system in order to boost growth and competitiveness, at the same costs as before.

Anchoring process

A fundamental common task for all the involved participants are to in their day-to-day work contribute to the development and anchoring, both local, regional and national, of the ESBR work model. This process must constantly be prioritized and adhered to by the individual actors. Each actor is responsible for anchoring and feedback to and from their respective organization. The ESBR Process management group – (SOU) is responsible from time to time to obtain the necessary political support.

Some of our challenges…

The next challenges for the project will be to implement the smart specialisation (RIS3) agenda, including an effective project handling organisation. Also, to continue develop sharp analytical tools and instruments to facilitate decision making and to establish methods to measure the “system” efficiency, targeted effects and regional growth. Over the next two days I will publish brief articles about this process.

It is also important that we continue to develop working methods and practices that facilitate the local level conditions for business development and local growth. Place development and place management is of utmost importance to attract new establishments, investments and talents.

The joint work we have carried out since the fall of 2011 is an important and necessary foundation for the future. The East Sweden Business Region strategy and work model is based on and developed on voluntary basis under the limiting conditions that each of the actors has to take into consideration. To succeed forward, we rely on these close voluntary cooperation will continue. So far we have no signs of that this would become a problem. On the contrary, the “system” based on personal responsibility and voluntary commitment grow stronger for each day.

About Lars-Goran Larsson :

Lars-Göran Larsson, Senior Advisor in Bearing, resides in Sweden and consults internationally. He has spent most of his career in executive positions in the private corporate sector and in the cross-roads of public-private partnerships.

The last ten years he has specialised in assignments that involves design and implementation of holistically coherent national, regional and local innovation based growth systems. At present, implementation of Europe´s innovation strategy Horizion 2020 is high on his agenda.

His work includes assignments for national and regional governments and Innovation Hubs in Europe, Middle East and Africa with establishment of innovation systems for incubators & accelerators and science parks & clusters integrated with extensive SME development programs and funding. The methodology applied is anchored in the Quad Helix model, which constitutes an extension and refinement of the traditional Triple Helix model. It coordinates context management in collaboration between the public and private sectors, academia and civil society.

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