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Innovation Policies for the Future

  • Published 05/03/2005
  • Last updated 07/06/2011
The Nordic Innovation Centre has now completed the second round of projects linked to innovation policies in the Nordic countries. Like last year’s report, the following is a synthesis report containing short descriptions of the projects and their relevant policy implications.

Our objective in this undertaking is to make a contribution to the development of more effective innovation policies in the Nordic countries by offering valuable insights to those in ministries and organizations who have innovation and enterprise policy measures as their domain.

It is not the purpose of a synthesis report to give a complete description of all the projects and their results and recommendations. This report focuses on those recommendations which NICe considers should be followed-up at both Nordic and national levels with a view to implementation.

From the Nordic Innovation Centre’s perspective, the following conclusions are of particular interest:


Foreign-owned multinationals represent Nordic opportunities
There are no clear indications that justify discrimination vis-à-vis foreign owners. Foreign-owned companies in the Nordic countries take part in international networks that might benefit other firms in the national innovation system. They also might provide capital used for innovation purposes on a national level. 

Marketing the Nordic countries as innovation-friendly
Given that the framework conditions are favourable to foreign investments in the Nordic countries, arguably the best option for attracting more foreign owners would be to market these countries as innovation friendly and knowledge-intensive markets. An enterprise-friendly innovation policy will also encourage foreigners to invest in these countries. Thus the activities of the national “Invest in” institutions should be strengthened.

Online searching of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) should be free and easy: a Nordic portal
A Nordic IPR search portal, would help Nordic SMEs to become more familiar with their IPR landscape. Nordic national patent and trademark offices should also propose IPR surveillance services with a more supportive pricing model, and courses targeting more specific industry sectors or needs.

A Nordic Patent Defence Union and a Nordic IPR Institute
A Nordic Patent Defence Union could be a first step to the launch of a European initiative to prevent intimidation of SMEs by large companies. 

Venture capital for SMEs
The design industry faces problems in securing venture capital. Companies need more information on such sources of finance, while potential investors must be made more aware of the profits to be made from design and of how to recognize such opportunities.

Establishing entrepreneurship programmes based on science and technology
While there are several entrepreneurship programmes in business administration, there are few that build on basic studies in science, technology and medicine, where opportunities for creating new high-growth firms tend to be much greater. Such programmes should be promoted in the Nordic countries.

Start-up grants for young entrepreneurs
Many young people leaving school with interesting business ideas find it difficult to obtain financing. The Nordic countries should launch a project giving such individuals the opportunity to develop their ideas over six months with a view to ensuring their viability and shortening the odds on successful start-ups. The grants should be used for development costs and not mainly for academic spin-offs.

Design industry - a potential Nordic growth area
The design industry is a small but important growth industry. The Nordic governments must make more of an effort to exploit the potential of the sector. The ripple effects from the design industry to other commercial activities is formidable. Network collaboration, internationalization strategies and improvements in education are just some of the measures that might be appropriate at national Nordic level.

Innovation in rural areas - a Nordic resource for increased value creation
Innovation in rural areas represents a considerable potential which has not been sufficiently realized. This is the case particularly when products associated with the agri-food and tourism sector are taken into account. The government must take a proactive approach to policies and opportunities involving the innovation system and the periphery.

A vigilant reader will notice that several of the projects identify a lack of involvement from the seed-/venture capital market as an obstacle for further development. The Nordic Innovation Centre has therefore already decided that risk capital issues are to be studied more closely in the next round of projects starting mid 2005.



It is our hope that the synthesis attempted in this report will inspire further study of the individual underlying reports:


Creating Opportunities for Young Entrepreneurs - Nordic examples and experiences


Intellectual Property Rights and Nordic SMEs – a study of IPR practices in the IT and biotech sectors


The Future in Design – the competitiveness and industrial dynamics of the Nordic design industry


The Innovation System and the Periphery (ISP)


Foreign Takeovers in the Nordic countriesEntrepreneurial learning & academic spin-offs (FOTON)


Entrepreneurial learning & academic spin-offs