Projects of Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions (2021-2024)

In the upcoming years, the thematic group will explore the post-pandemic regional development patterns within the fields of labour mobility, remote working, green transition and regional leadership. On this page, one can find an overview of the current thematic group's projects (2021-2024) and projects conducted during the previous group's projects (2017-2020) on resilience, innovative capacity, and skills provision.

Re-start competence mobility

In this area, we will have a Nordic focus when exploring how cross-border competence mobility post the Covid-19 crisis can be enhanced, both in cross-border regions but also long-distance cross-border competence mobility. What is the role of internal migration, and what is the role of commuting? Which competence sectors and which regions have the largest commuting? Is this also where we see the largest potentials? What are the obstacles? What are the enablers? This area relates to the Nordic vision of being the most integrated region in the world, and collaboration with other actors such as Info Norden and the Free Movement Council is foreseen.

Regional implications of remote work

In the previous period, we explored the concept of resilience and how regions in the Nordic work with strategies for resilience. In this period we go into depth and focus on how changing dynamics in the labour markets (e.g., digitalisation and working from home) affect municipalities and regions, and how this links to planning for resilience in the municipalities. To what extent is the accelerated trend towards remote working transforming Nordic labour markets in the short term? What are the regional development implications of a more permanent shift towards remote working in the medium to long-term? How are Nordic actors in different types of regions responding to the potentials and risks associated with this trend? What policy responses might be effective in getting the most out of this trend for Nordic regional development?

Green innovation: Systems perspective and mission-oriented policies (GRINGO I and II)

Green innovation refers to innovations that contribute to implementing the so-called ‘green agenda’, ‘green transition’, or the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ambition within the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024 is to investigate how Green Innovation plays out in the Nordic countries and to identify the policy learnings for future innovation policy development at national and sub-national levels. This work is conducted in two phases: GRINGO I and GRINGO II projects. 

Nordic regional leadership

The project aims to better understand what regional leadership looks like within a Nordic context. The concept of regional leadership is about examining how sub-national level institutions and stakeholders collaborate together to drive regional growth, solve local challenges and maximize opportunities.

Socially sustainable rural tourism

Recent Nordregio studies show that all Nordic countries aim for sustainable tourism development in their national strategies. Many ongoing Nordic tourism studies focus especially on economic and environmental aspects of sustainable tourism. This research however aims to look further into the concept of sustainable tourism development from a sociocultural perspective. The project will examine what the Nordic countries consider social and cultural effects in tourism development to be, and look into which possible indicators are used to measure the social dimension of sustainability in the ongoing quest of the Nordic countries for sustainable tourism development.

Early career mobility in the Nordic region

Recent Nordregio studies show a difference in migration intensities and patterns between adults in their 20s and 30s. The aim of the project is to understand the migration drivers from university towns and urban areas in the Nordic region, targeting adults in their early careers. The project will put an emphasis on urban-to-rural migration, addressing cross-cutting themes such as gender and the green transition.

Arena for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions

The Arena is a space of dialogue and co-creation within the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions (TGC). This space is designed to establish bridges between the thematic group work and other researchers and other actors in policy and practice fields, as well as to provide input to the ongoing regional development studies.

Projects of Innovative Regions in the Nordics (2017-2020)

Innovative and Resilient Regions Thematic Group conducts various activities within the prioritized projects. An important goal of the projects is to engage with relevant stakeholders, target groups and consider gender equality as well as environmental aspects. The inclusion and participation of young people and immigrants are also one of the goals. The major findings of different projects will be disseminated via publications, events, and networks of researchers, politicians and other groups of interest.

Click on the titles and you will find more about each project on

Linking innovation and resilience: Synergy effects for regional development

This project aims to find commonalities and synergy effects of the in-depth studies on regional economic and social resilience, smart specialization, digitalization, as well as the so-called “skills project”, all part of the activities under the ongoing Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development.

The synergy project will focus on these interlinkages as well as the horizontal perspectives, such as gender, green transition, youth, and arctic aspects, as highlighted by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Skills Policies – Building Capacities for Innovative and Resilient Nordic Regions

Many countries and regions are affected by a situation of unemployment in parallel to a shortage of skills in certain economic and labor markets, often referred to as the qualification mismatch problem. This situation is also relevant in the Nordic regions. Skills flexibility and lifelong learning are hot topics on the current political agenda and are important elements for the regional capacity of being resilient to economic and social shocks.

A Nordic study on skills is motivated by the important role that skills play in the innovation and economic growth, but also in the employment and the well-being of citizens in the Nordic regions. Skills analysis and prognosis, together with policies and strategies are important instruments in order to take measures to provide adequate human capital and skills, competence mismatch and shortcomings in the labor markets.

The focus of the study is on how regional actors work with skills in order to achieve national and regional goals: how they work to cope with the cross-sectoral and multilevel challenges that are part of the complex area of skills, and what are the enabling and hampering factors to strengthen skills in the Nordic regions.

Digitalization in rural and sparsely populated areas – joint Nordic-Baltic learning

The Nordic‐Baltic Region is at the forefront of digitalization in Europe. Despite the overall positive development, the impact of digitalization on economy and society is unequal: rural and sparsely populated areas often lagging behind with respect to the availability of digital infrastructure and the adoption of digital technologies.

This project investigates how to facilitate the uptake of digital technologies and innovations by SMEs in rural and sparsely populated areas. It explores the challenges and potential opportunities facing rural regions and their enterprises in the context of digitalization and identifies good examples of measures and policies to support the digital transformation of rural businesses.

The ultimate aim of the project is to inspire Nordic and Baltic regions, their rural communities and rural enterprises to make the most out of digital opportunities and provide insights that will assist policymakers in creating an enabling environment for this work.

Roadshow 2019-2020

Dissemination of the learnings from the in-depth studies undertaken by Nordregio on behalf of the Nordic Thematic Group on Innovative and Resilient Regions is an important part of the purpose of the working group. Sharing our insights and policy recommendations is a pertinent exercise for ensuring transregional and transnational learning opportunities.

The Roadshow 2019-2020 refers to the activities and the format through which we will be sharing our key findings; traveling throughout the Nordic regions and beyond to present and discuss the findings with national, regional and local stakeholders.

The potential of Smart Specialisation for enhancing innovation and resilience in Nordic regions

Drafting Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (S3) has become an ex-ante condition to access the EU Structural Funds for the 2014-2020 program period. This implies that for the first time, the fundamental goals of territorial cohesion through EU regional policy has become "welded" with the objectives of innovation and competition.

Specialization in the form of prioritization of regional strengths and opportunities as well as multi-actor collaboration have been promoted and applied in many Nordic regions. However, there is still a lack of understanding of the added-value of S3 implementation in the Nordic context.

The current study builds on the priorities identified by the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions: public support mechanisms, mobilization and (re)organization of relevant innovation actors within regional innovation systems, "Nordic model" of smart specialization and its added-value, green transition.

The discussion paper of the project provides a knowledge and policy overview of smart specialization in the Nordic Region. It gives a systematic overview of how and to what extent the Nordic regions have adopted and adapted the concept of smart specialization in their respective regional innovation strategies.

Digitalization as a tool for sustainable Nordic regional development

Digital technologies have the potential to dramatically transform our lives. Despite this, research providing direct insight into regional governance in the digital age is limited. So, this project seeks to address this gap, exploring the priorities, challenges and opportunities regions face when working with digitalization.

The project explores digitalization in the context of priorities such as green transition, the supply of skills and capital, and regional strategies for sustainable growth.

The discussion paper of the project explores digitalization in Nordic regions. It develops a common understanding of it in the context of sustainable Nordic regional development and gives an overview of digitalization policies at the EU and Nordic national levels.

Regional Economic and Social Resilience

The growing concern over natural disasters and the fresh memory of the 2008-2010 financial crisis has lifted regional resilience high on the agenda at all levels of policy-making. The EU Commission has emphasized the need for helping citizens, organizations, and regions to adapt to the profound transformations that our social and economic systems are undergoing due to globalization, decarbonization and the emergence of digital technologies.

Regional resilience has become a hot topic for policy-making, with assistance regarding social and economic transformation at the core of the debate. The Regional Economic and Social Resilience project focuses on identifying what shocks the Nordic regions are particularly vulnerable to and how to strengthen resilience, both to anticipate and react to these disturbances.

So, the project is being built on economic and social resilience, identify a Nordic model/approach to resilience, focus on both anticipating and reacting to shocks and identify components of regional resilience. The remainder of the research will include regional case studies from all Nordic countries. The data collected will be analyzed and combined with the findings of the literature and policy review to develop responses to the project´s questions.