Uppsala county in Sweden, directly north of the capital city Stockholm, is with 350,000 inhabitants one of the fastest growing of Sweden’s 21 regions. In this exciting place, Bearing has won a project to help prepare the regions development strategies for the future.
In 2015, the work of developing a new regional development strategy (RUS) will commence. The new strategy is to be ready for a decision in December 2016. The Uppsala county Regional Council intends to strengthen the process by having a solid knowledge base prepared through the RIK project which Bearing has won, with recommendations on what needs to be done to strengthen the overall innovation environment in the county.
The aim is for the county to be able to live up to the level that characterises prominent, global innovation districts, which serve as engines for growth and innovation leaders in the new economic geography. The first component of the project will be an internal world analysis, based on statistics, research, interviews and discoveries from previous projects.
The project will also include an external world analysis where the county’s prerequisites, in terms of economic factors, network and physical assets, are set in relation to other prominent regional innovation zones in Europe and the world. The benchmarking approach should be exploratory and challenging. While the base is expected to identify regional strengths and weaknesses, it shall also contain recommendations and a proposed plan of how the county will be able to sharpen the innovation capacity.
In combination, the internal world analysis and the external world analysis will allow us to make conclusions about the competitive potential, and thereby make recommendations for the future strategy. The recommendations that the knowledge base results in will form the backbone of the RUS chapter on “the innovative Uppsala region”, and also serve as a regional innovation strategy. Questions regarding the regional leadership and smart specialization and cluster development will run all through the work.
There are many indications that the development of RUS will take place in parallel with the initial steps of forming a regional municipality in the current county of Uppsala. During the preparation of this, the study will thus constitute in important basis for shaping a regional “mission statement” and ambition with the new regional formation.
In the county of Uppsala, many of the assets that usually characterize prominent innovation districts are already in place, although not transparently understood and utilised. The formal education level is high, R & D spending extensive (about 7% of GRP), highly ranked universities and a teaching hospital, key institutions (SGU, Läkemedelsverket, Livsmedelsverket etc.), good international communications via Arlanda Airport, strong industry clusters (especially life science, knowledge intensive engineering, cleantech and information technology), attractive urban environment and geographic proximity within the county, and location in relation to a large Stockholm market.
The level of innovation is confirmed by Reglabs Innovation Index, where the county of Uppsala is in the top together with Stockholm. European Innovation Scoreboard 2013 ranks Sweden as the most innovation leading country in EU. Thus the county of Uppsala already possesses many of the components that constitute an attractive knowledge and innovation region. The challenge is to refine the assets and realise the county’s total potential for the benefit of industry, citizens and welfare, as well as defining a distinctive regional offer and achieving a brand position in an international context.
To allow for this, the RIK project will provide a proper analysis of the present, shape a sustainable innovation strategy and pave the way for a well-planned implementation.