Halfway update from the project BSR Stars S3

date 28.02.2018

The BSR Stars S3 project will be finalised in April 2019, which means that we have passed the halfway mark of the project. Therefore, we would like to share the main project achievements so far.

The BSR Stars S3 project enhances smart specialization within bio-, circular and digital economy in the Baltic Sea Region through piloting methods and tools that enable cross-sectoral cooperation between companies, researchers and the public sector within the focus fields. The project is led by the Baltic Institute of Finland. Other partners are Nordic Council of Ministers, Baltic Development Forum, Nordregio, the regions of Tampere, Värmland, Sor Trondelag and Vilnius as well as business development organisations representing the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) from Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania.

Main achievements so far by the project BSR Stars S3

A number of activities and events has been carried out since June 2016. In summary, the following are the main achievements by the project so far:

  • Bio- and circular economy matchmaking events in Vilnius and Tampere (MITA, Lithuanian Innovation Agency, Council of Tampere Region and the Baltic Institute of Finland)
  • Workshop on Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy in Regions and Countries in the Baltic Sea Region (Nordic Council of Ministers and Nordregio)
  • “The Baltic Sea Region: A Global Digital Test Hub” report (Baltic Development Forum)
  • BSR Bioeconomy Innovation Vouchers (Nordic Council of Ministers)
  • S3 Accelerator Camp (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)
  • Ecosystem Tool (Council of Tampere Region)
  • Study Tour Kalundsborg and Helsingborg (Nordic Council of Ministers and Nordregio)
  • Study Tour Karlstad (Nordregio)
  • Sounding Board on Smart Specialisation Strategies (Nordic Council of Ministers)
  • Policy Brief of Inclusive Digitalisation (Nordregio)

Public-research-business bio- and circular economy matchmaking events with 50-150 participants have been organized in Vilnius and Tampere. The matchmaking event is a regional method to enable new cooperation between research and business as well as to identify the regional strengths and various actors of the regional bio- and circular economy ecosystem. The new partnerships and ideas created during the matchmaking are facilitated after the events through transnational coaching and regional support activities. Transnational business coaching has been provided by Danish experts for Lithuanian companies.

Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) and Nordregio arranged a workshop on Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy in Regions and Countries in the Baltic Sea RegionThe meeting was successful in sharing experiences from the participants on opportunities and challenges linked to the development of industrial symbiosis in the Baltic Sea Region

A report called “The Baltic Sea Region: A Global Digital Test Hub” was published by the Baltic Development Forum in September 2017. The report gives a snapshot of digital test and demonstration infrastructures and facilities in the Baltic Sea Region, suggesting that transnational access for SME’s to these centers of excellence can stimulate innovation and smart specialisation.

NCM launched an open call for SMEs in the BSR for the piloting of transnational innovation voucher system in Autumn 2017. Altogether 5 vouchers, with a value up to 5000 EUR, will be granted for SMEs in 2018. With the voucher, a SME can utilize R&D services of another BSR country for justified product testing and development.

S3 Accelerator Camps were organized in Spring and Autumn 2017 in Vilnius for the partner regions to develop solutions to bio- and circular economy challenges in transnational teams. The Accelerator Camp forms transnational teams from the regions and utilizes business acceleration methods to solve regional challenges, such as how to develop a bio-economy cluster in the region engaging SMEs cross-sectorally or how to create a joint waste market in the BSR.

The Council of Tampere Region has elaborated a prototype of a real-time innovation ecosystem visualization tool that is being piloted in the field of bio- and circular economy. This is a new kind of tool to support the regional innovation management and identification of stakeholders and their linkages. The tool is disseminated to other regions and the concept provides a new approach to S3 implemenation in the regions.

So far, two Study Tours have been arranged. The first was a Study Tour to Kalundborg, Denmark and Helsingborg, Sweden in May 2017 on the topic of Industrial Symbiosis with business and municipal perspectives. Taking part in the Study Tour was  around 30 bio- and circular economy experts from around the Baltic Sea Region. The second was a Study Tour to Karlstad, Värmland in November 2017. Värmland displays great opportunities and achievements in promoting regional development in circular- and bioeconomy. Regional champions such as the Paper Province cluster in forestry industry buttresses Värmlands regional strenghths, an provides opportunitues in the several connected and corresponding businesses.

BSR Stars S3 has created a Sounding Board on Smart Specialisation Strategies in the Baltic Sea Region. The first Sounding Board was held on the 14th of September 2017 in Stockholm. The event was arranged in collaboration between NCM and Nordregio.

Furthermore, the BSR Stars S3 project has been disseminated at several events. The project participated in the first World Circular Economy Forum organized by Sitra in Helsinki in June 2017. In connection with the EUSBSR 8th Annual Forum in Berlin,  NCM (in collaboration with Policy Area Innovation, Policy Area Bioeconomy, Baltic Development Forum and Nordregio), hosted two inter-connected seminars sessions on Inclusive Digitalisation. Nordregio later published a Policy Brief on Inclusive Digitalisation in the Baltic Sea Region.

There is a strong need for better coordination of and common approaches to smart specialization in the Baltic Sea Region. BSR Stars S3 project is a good example of concrete macroregional S3 implementation. The project focuses on bio-, circular and digital fields through concrete cases and by tackling common challenges. Through cooperation between BSR Stars S3 and other BSR Stars projects on S3, a large number of BSR subregions will move towards joint approaches in S3 implementation in the BSR.

Esa Kokkonen, the Baltic Institute of Finland

Circular economy is a global challenge and a strong business opportunity for the BSR that calls for transnational cooperation. We need exchange of experiences on regional models for more focused funding and policy support for circular economy.

Johanna Leino, The Baltic Institute of Finland

Esa Kokkonen                                                                        Johanna Leino

Baltic Institute Finland                                                             Baltic Insitute Finland