Northern Connections

Output from Political Conference

25 January 2019 - Published by Anne Katrine Arentsen
Northern Connections held its first political conference in Oslo back in November 2018. This will give you an overview over the purpose of the conference - and what it has added to the other partners in the project.

Kristin Anderssen, who is a Special Advisor at the City of Oslo and a partner in Northern Connections, expresses that it as a great pleasure to host Northern Connections first political conference back in November 2018, which was held in the Oslo at the City Hall. The main output of the political conference was to build capacity and transnational relations to sustainable energy clusters and furthermore, to provide demand-led innovation support. This creates the foundation for involving more SMEs and startups in innovation.

Develop broader political backing using Northern Connections to create coherence between political ambitions and cluster potential for innovation support. Today, Oslo has an innovation ecosystem that is producing valuable knowledge jobs for the future. An ecosystem is consisting of five crucial elements: entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, academia and the public sector. According to Professor Torger Reve’s research, all five factors need to be present in order to build robust entrepreneurial ecosystems, and that’s what we have in Oslo now.

Why should Cities support clusters?
Cities should support clusters, because it is the future. Why do we care so much about new jobs, about entrepreneurs meeting investors, about the public sector working with corporates, and about connecting the academic sector with all of the above? This is due to two reasons: “Real job growth” and “collaboration-as-a-method”, says Kristin Anderssen, Special Advisor at Oslo Municipality and Partner in Northern Connections.

According to research from BI Norwegian Business School young firms contribute 2 out of 3 jobs in the private sector. Small young firms, those with less than 10 employees, stand for the bulk of net new jobs. When small young firms become growth firms, with more than 50 employees, they are almost universally found in cities with a Cluster Capacity. Oslo has both. This is happening at the same time as most of the established corporations are downsizing their employee count. Not because they are doing worse - business is fine. It’s because they become more efficient, more productive. An ecosystem that is actively supporting the creation of new jobs.

Output from representatives 
Another partner that attended was Cecil Meiklejohn, who is the leader of Falkirk Council and their representative at the political conference. Cecil Meiklejohn was keen to emphasise and underline Falkirk Council’s support to the Northern Connections project and give broader political backing to using Northern Connections to create understanding to transnational Partner political ambitions and cluster innovation support. Engagement with the political representatives from Norway and Denmark as well as senior representatives from the Northern Connections Project Lead in Denmark and other Partner countries, gave opportunity to confirm Falkirk Council’s political support to the project and develop transnational opportunities at a broader political level. It directly facilitated and gave opportunity to positive dialogue on common themes around low carbon innovation challenges within the context of the Council’s economic strategy and ongoing work with both UK and Scottish Governments around investment and innovation opportunities.

Peter Reid from Falkirk Council's, who is the representative partner in the Northern Connections project, said the following about their participation at the political conference:"The objective in Falkirk attending was, as one of the key Scottish Partners, to directly politically support, participate and contribute to the project objective of building capacity and transnational relations with partners. It also enabled an update on understanding progress in the development of Northern Connections policy support to sustainable energy clusters and demand-led innovation. Furthermore, Transnational collaboration opportunities are an important area of the Council’s economic strategy."

Lastly, Kristin Anderssen describes that this political conference gave the best framework for the Living Lab Økern Sentrum on the November 27th at SALT and Stratos in Oslo. The Living Lab Event in Oslo was organised by Oslo Renewable Environmental and Energy Cluster (OREEC), who also work with the Northern Connections project. 

Read more about the event HERE - and watch the video from the conference HERE