The vision of the Nordic Cultural & Commercial House (NCCH) is to connect the Nordic countries to the world’s emerging economies while realising synergies between the Nordic countries.
The Nordic Cultural and Commercial Houses offers a new strategic approach to Nordic diplomatic representation and co-location abroad through the establishment of multifunctional Nordic landmark buildings in key emerging markets that will serve as images of Nordic thinking, products, and values. The buildings should be seen as a new strategic approach to Nordic branding and local representation in emerging markets that:
- Helps to cut costs by smarter and more effective room utilisation and services.
- Improves security measures and lower costs by pooling resources and using new technology.
- Serves as a lever for Nordic representation and political clout through joint profiling, branding and scale.
- Physically displays Nordic strongholds in design, sustainability, and products as a part of the building.
- Serves as a commercial connection hub for Nordic and emerging market SMEs and MNCs.
Illustration: Dalberg group
On the request from a number key stakeholders, Nordic Innovation hosted a roundtable dialogue in Stockholm in January 2014 to seek out interest and stress test the NCCH project's feasibility.
– The project aligns well with the strategy of Nordic Innovation, working closely with our stakeholders to identify new opportunities. Using innovative methods to find and communicate the common denominator for the projects, engaging new partners and running processes to facilitate the future work, says Bárdur Örn Gunnarsson, director of communication at Nordic Innovation.
Senior professionals from a number of different organisations including the five Nordic Ministries of Foreign Affairs, trade promotion agencies, large Nordic multinational corporations, interest organisations and investors participated in the roundtable. The roundtable discussions generated important insights and preliminary conclusions that was grouped into four categories:
- Construction, architecture and design.
- Culture, education, and civil society.
The two-day NCCH roundtable meeting in Stockholm has been summed up in this graphic illustration (click illustration to download larger PDF version):
The Great Scope
In dialogue between the Nordic Ministries of Foreign Affairs, private sector and potential investors, it was decided to move on with the NCCH project and work on a concrete case to test if the business plan behind the project and the political commitment from Nordic countries was strong enough.
– We would like to see more Nordic co-locations, and we look positively at continuing the work to clarify the conditions for Nordic Cultural and Commercial Houses, says the Foreign Ministers from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in a statement on embassy cooperation.
Jakarta in Indonesia was singled out among ten locations around the world. Jakarta was high on the priority list for both the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and large Nordic companies who will eventually rent space in the buildings.
Illustration: Jakarta NCCH street view by Snöhetta
A Nordic Cooperation Opportunity
Nordic Innovation is supporting the continued work with NCCH based upon positive affirmations from the Nordic Committee for Co-operation, backed by a decision from the five Nordic Ministers of Foreign Affairs in May 2015 and the perspectives of including innovative Nordic solutions within clean tech and urban planning, and creating strong Nordic incubator platforms in the key emerging markets.
– It is quite clear that different Nordic businesses with activities in emerging markets see a value in a closer cooperation between the Nordic countries in these markets. The concept of Nordic Cultural and Commercial Houses could help realise these synergies, while strengthening the Nordic brand to the benefit of the Nordic countries and businesses throughout, says managing director at Nordic Innovation, Roger Bjørgan.
Besides the branding value of establishing Nordic landmark buildings in emerging markets, as well as the opportunity to create synergies between Nordic diplomatic representations, NCCH is also in line with Nordic Innovation key priorities such as the Nordic Built Cities lighthouse programme, Creative Industries, #NordicMade, and efforts of setting up soft landing zones for Nordic companies. Finally, the NCCH project opens up for new types of public private partnerships across the Nordic region as well as developing new innovative financing models.
For Nordic Built Cites, NCCH offers special opportunities as Nordic landmark buildings around the world that becomes living show rooms for best Nordic practice within Nordic innovative solutions for liveable, smart and sustainable cities. The landmark buildings will embed Nordic best practice within clean tech solutions, urban planning and design. NCCH also gives a unique opportunity for Nordic companies to develop new solutions for emerging markets, while designing the products and services for the concrete buildings.