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Strategic global marketing of Nordic cleantech clusters and competencies

Photo: Jørn Bang Andersen
  • Publisert 26.03.2012
The purpose of the report is to map how cleantech sectors and clusters in the Nordic countries are being marketed, and to develop and suggest methods for and approaches to joint marketing of Nordic cleantech globally, paving the way for the long-term goal of developing a joint Nordic marketing model. The study was carried out by Tendensor on behalf of Nordic Innovation in the period December 2011 – March 2012.

In the period 2011–2013, the Nordic trade ministers will assume responsibility for six lighthouse projects that will help to set the new innovation agenda in the Region. One of the six projects is the Global Marketing and Communication of Innovative Nordic Cleantech Companies as presented below, along with a brief description of their content, milestones for 2011–2013, and the country responsible for launching the project and overseeing its progress.


A joint Nordic marketing initiative has been launched to promote green technologies. If small and medium sized enterprises in the region are to attract greater foreign investment, there is a need for joint Nordic marketing to forge contacts and open up access to foreign investors. Efforts may include building on the experiences from EXPO 2010 Shanghai and


  • Milestones: A needs assessment will be conducted in 2011.
  • Specific activities and funding will be organized in 2012.
  • Activities are to be initiated by 2013 at latest.
  • Responsibility: Sweden
  • Secretariat: Nordic Innovation


This report is work related to the first milestone of making a needs-assessment.


The report has identified several conclusions and recommendations:


  • The purpose of this report is to map how cleantech sectors and cleantech clusters in the Nordic countries are marketed today, and develop and suggest methods for and approaches to joint marketing of Nordic cleantech globally in the future.
  • No doubt, the Nordic countries are among world leaders in clean technologies. This study indicates cleantech sub-sectors in which the Nordic countries exhibit strong global marketing readiness.
  • The global community perceives the Nordic countries as sustainability and cleantech frontrunners, and there is a general perception that Nordic countries are environmentally friendly.
  • However, there are indications that the Nordic countries are punching below their weight – that is, that they are not as recognised as they could be for their cleantech competencies, calling for intensified marketing efforts to close this gap.
  • In addition, the Nordic countries are too small, and have too limited resources for marketing to be recognised in and have an impact on some global markets. For example, the Nordic countries are relatively unknown in important emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil, calling for joint Nordic efforts. 
  • Joint global marketing and branding of Nordic cleantech can offer a range of benefits: among them more resources for marketing, image and awareness benefits, especially on distant markets, and a more attractive “product” in terms of a broader portfolio of different products and solutions.
  • Clusters may have the potential to act as intermediaries in marketing of cleantech, especially as many cleantech firms are small and medium sized companies. Cluster organisations can open doors to decision makers in international markets, offer reputational spillover to cluster firms and provide cost-effectiveness in marketing, among other things.
  • Many clusters, however, need to increase their strategic marketing capacity in order to be able to reach global markets. If cluster organisations are to assume a leading role in promoting Nordic cleantech globally, their marketing and strategic communication capacity needs to be increased considerably.
  • Social media channels can offer a cost-effective and powerful medium for cleantech clusters and actors to share information, connect with interested parties and firms, and brand themselves in the global market. Cleantech Finland is one of the first movers in this space.
  • To date, both Denmark and Finland have developed comprehensive nation-branding efforts in which promotion of cleantech and green credentials play a prominent role, and that also integrate regional cleantech clusters. At present, cleantech does not play as prominent a role in the other Nordic countries’ nation branding efforts.
  • Lack of political will has in some cases hampered previous attempts to collaborate in global marketing of cleantech on a Nordic basis.
  • Two distinct models for joint marketing could be suitable for the Nordic countries: a promotion model or a branding model. The promotion approach aims to establish a joint promotion mechanism, whereas the branding model tries to build a unified Nordic cleantech brand, backed by thematic sub-brands.


Recommendations of this study include the following:


  • There is a need to combine a top-down and a bottom-up approach, meaning that policy support for joint Nordic marketing must be combined with strong involvement of organisations from the Nordic countries that work hands-on to promote cleantech.
  • Collaboration efforts should focus on areas in which the Nordic countries exhibit truly globally competitive strengths. This study indicates in which areas of the cleantech field that the Nordic countries exhibit particular strongholds and where overlaps and synergies may exist.
  • Create a common communication or branding platform. This should be done in an inclusive, stakeholder-driven process and include workshops, interviews and surveys in order to collect as many views as possible and create legitimacy and stakeholder buy-in for the platform.
  • At the same time as a marketing collaboration is being developed and intensified, it is important to take steps to live up to marketing and branding claims with a common Nordic product offering. Joint business development and innovation projects are crucial for nurturing Nordic cleantech sectors and creating new, cross-border value chains.
  • Implement a training programme to improve cleantech cluster’s strategic marketing and communication capacity.
  • There is a need to determine the extent to which cleantech clusters and the cleantech sector can be integrated into national branding and investment/export promotion bodies, especially in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. 
  • As for target markets, it has in this study become clear that joint marketing targeting the BRIC markets (and perhaps, with time, the Next-11 markets) would be a most viable and logical choice, and add most value, as all Nordic countries prioritise these markets.


As for concrete marketing activities, the following would be viable:


  • Establish Nordic cleantech showrooms in (at least) all five capital airports in order to showcase unique Nordic solutions and technology.
  • Establish a Nordic cleantech portal. Choose only one or two cleantech sub-sectors to begin with in a pilot project, and evaluate and draw lessons learned after a period of time.
  • Establish a joint Nordic social media presence, at first perhaps only for internal dialogue and information sharing, then after some time expand the focus to be more international as the channels mature and consolidate. 
  • Run a pilot project on a market, which all countries prioritise and have strong marketing presence and evaluate and draw lessons learned after a period of time, which be used when new activities are planned. The Chinese market would be a strong candidate for such a pilot project.
  • Organise Nordic high-level business delegations to key markets, including high-level political representatives of the Nordic countries, not only in order to achieve maximum impact on target markets, but also show that collaboration is prioritised and has backing at the highest political levels.
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