Policy Area Innovation


With 85 million inhabitants the Baltic Sea region makes up 17 percent of the EU’s total population. Part of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), Policy Area Innovation strives to promote a globally competitive position within research and innovation for sustainable economic growth in the Baltic Sea Region.

Three overall objectives guide this macro-regional cooperation: “Save the Sea”, “Connect the Region” and “Increase Prosperity”.
Operating on a macro-regional scale, the role of policy area innovation is to:

• Enable shared learning through knowledge-transfer activities
• Create and strengthen networks across the Baltic sea region
• Align resources and regulations e.g. through co-ordination of funding sources
• Facilitate the joining up of forces in common programs and investments

The Nordic Council of Ministers is assigned with the responsibility of coordinating the policy area together with Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in Estonia and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Poland.

PA INNO has enhanced the BSR’s profile, visibility and attractiveness as a partner of choice for international innovation cooperation within and beyond the BSR, as well as a location for innovation-focused and industry-driven investment.

Esa Kokkonen, Policy Area Coordinator, EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region - Policy Area Innovation

Innovation Drivers


Solutions to address common challenges facing the Baltic Sea Region will depend on the efficient use of natural resources and circular economy. There may not be a ready market for a solution that emerges from a challenge-driven innovation; a market may need to be created, which will often involve public sector intervention.

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Macro-regional collaboration, such as by facilitation of policy area innovation, can help overcome some of the lock-in effects of knowledge-driven innovation systems at the regional, national, and industry specific levels.

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Market-driven innovation – maintaining competitiveness by being innovative - is not limited to old or existing industries. In high-cost countries, such as those around the Baltic Sea, it is often a matter of “Innovate or Die!”

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Upcoming Events

Strategy Guide 2016 - 2020

Innovation is of key importance to the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). As a driving force of increased prosperity, it is highly relevant to realising the potential of all of the 13 policy areas and 4 horizontal actions established by the EU Strategy of the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). Putting the EUSBSR into action, the Policy Area Innovation Strategy Guide, 2016 – 2020 sets out member states’ priorities for the coming years with respect to innovation policy and interventions. The strategy guide identifies three cross-cutting themes that activities under policy area innovation should focus on: Digitalization, SME internationalization and talent management and entrepreneurship.

Themes & Tools


The way we respond to digitalisation - the fundamental process for change in society and business - will make a huge difference to innovation. The Baltic Sea Region has the potential to become the first digitally Integrated market.

Transnational Digital Collaboration

SME internationalisation

SMEs in the Baltic Sea Region are already deeply involved in global markets and are Thus at the forefront of providing innovative solutions for the challenges facing global communities.

Clustering and SME Development

Talent Management & Entrepreneurship

Talented people are at the heart of innovation processes. Any strategic action in the BSR will rely on the entrepreneurial skills of people in the innovation systems - from within academia, business and innovation organisations.

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Smart Specialisation Strategies

Smart specialisation is a strategic tool introduced by the European Commission into European regional policy. The role of policy area innovation is to promote the processes of smart specialisation so that they are taken to the macro-regional level.

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Test beds and innovation infrastructure

Innovation often requires large-scale Investments in research infrastructures. Due to the relatively small size of the Baltic Sea Region, regional collaboration is neccesary to further enhance the value that these Investments bring to the region.

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Clustering & other innovation support structures

Many Baltic Sea Region clusters have emerged out of one or more of the three different driving forcers of innovation identified above (Market- knowledge - challenge). However, further advancement of Baltic Sea Region clusters is needed to support the innovation process within SMEs.

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The SUBMARINER Network promotes innovative approaches to the sustainable use of marine resources and offers a cooperation platform to related actors and initiatives in the Baltic Sea Region.

Lead: The Ministry of Economic Affairs Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) together with the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management and the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk as co-leaders.

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ScanBalt® fmba is Northern Europe's Leading Accelerator for Inter-regional Cooperation envisioning the region as a Global Hotspot for Health and Bio Economy. ScanBalt creates value by promoting innovation and business, fostering inter-regional collaboration, reducing barriers, enhancing visibility and attracting resources.

Lead: ScanBalt® fmba

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Baltic Science Link is a network between leading research facilities of photon and neutron sources and their users. The project aims to support and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the Baltic Sea Region. Apart from the research facilities, the network also includes scientific institutes, universities and regional organizations that serve as service and promoting units

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BSR Digi co-lab: Transnational Digital Collaboration in the BSR is a set of projects which are relevant and directly connected to priorities of Digitalisation, described in the PA Innovation Strategy Guide 2016-2020. Two funded sub-projects are in loop of flagship, e.g. DIGINNO (Digital Innovation Network) and IoB (Internet of Business).

Lead: The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, contact: Reet.Reismaa@mkm.ee

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Reet Reismaa
Policy Area Coordinator Innovation
Estonia Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications
+372 5911 2647
Tomasz Jalukowicz
Policy Area Coordinator Innovation
Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education
+48 22 52 92 293
Esa Kokkonen
Policy Area Coordinator Innovation
The Baltic Institute of Finland
+358 50 516 9111