Today in Stockholm, politicians, businesses and civil society are gathering to mark the 18th annual Baltic Development Forum (BDF) Summit and 7th Strategy Forum for the EUSBSR. Since 1999, the BDF Summit has sought to foster cross-sectorial dialogue and find common ground in a rapidly-evolving world.
Nowhere is this rapid evolution more noticeable than in the ICT sphere. The Baltic Sea Region has established itself firmly as one of the world’s leading technological hubs, with the right skills, governance and entrepreneurial spirit needed to flourish in our digital era. To track the region’s digital progress and highlight areas of future potential, the Baltic Development Forum, together with Microsoft, have set up a think-tank – “Top of Digital Europe” – aimed at facilitating cross-border digital dialogue in the Baltic Sea Region’.
Today, Top of Digital Europe is launching its “State of the Digital Region 2016” report – an overview of how Baltic and Nordic countries have been performing within the digital economy. This second annual edition of the report re-affirms that the countries in the region are front-runners in many aspects of the digital economy. But it also confirms that the countries need to step up if the region is to stay in the lead as a global ICT hub.
The paper also looks closely at the role of cities and city networks fostering digital growth, since increased urbanization and digitization are increasingly intertwined. Cities are the connecting dots of the digital market, with the startups they tend to foster lighting the fire of digital growth across many sectors. However, these urban hubs often lie far apart, separated by national borders and the Baltic Sea itself. To boost cross-border digital collaboration and create an integrated digital market in the region, we need to encourage tech-savvy cities to partner within each more closely. Creating a formidable tech network “cluster” of cities would promote innovation, entrepreneurship and growth through the flow of information, ideas and human capital between urban economies.
Read the full report here.
The report was presented by the authors, Joakim Wernberg, PhD student at Lund University and Senior Policy Analyst at the Chamber of Industry & Commerce in Southern Sweden, and Martin Andersson, Professor at Blekinge Institute of Technology and Lund University. The launch was followed by a panel discussing the report’s key observations on the region’s digital performance and the potential for transnational digital collaboration. The panel also discussed how cities can be drivers for a digital single market in the Baltic Sea Region by offering attractive environments for digital startups and by supporting and connecting digital ecosystems.
Panelists were: Jan Tore Sanner, Minister of Local Government & Modernisation, Norway, Damon Knight, Chief Architect, Microsoft, Niko Kyynäräinen, CEO, Turku Science Park Ltd, Finland and Rokas Tamošiūnas, partner Robos Capital, Lithuania. The debate was moderated by Monika Zamachowska.
Watch the video from the launch here.