To meet our goals, we adopted specific approaches:
- We identified potential solution providers through collaboration with clusters from all seven North Sea Region countries. That way, the cities could expand the pool of possible suppliers and leverage their innovation capacity.
- Reverse pitching was a tool that public agencies used to find suitable solutions to their challenges. By pitching their challenges towards several SMEs and start-ups, reverse pitching also opens for cooperation between suppliers in delivering the best solutions.
- Our concept of Living Labs is an active method for bringing challenge owners and solution providers together and pushing innovative solutions forward in a way not done before.
The core objective of Northern Connections was to engage more enterprises in working and innovating together across borders. We did this by addressing competition barriers and strengthening transnational cooperation between clusters, cities and regions.
By working together on very specific joint tasks we established trust, overcame barriers and achieved a strong partnership that co-developed and co-implemented pilot Living Labs while refining the concept together as we went along.
Northern Connections has been a journey of getting to know how other cities and regions work with internationalisation to push innovation in SMEs. It has been a learning process to understand and accept that the cluster landscape is different in each country, that we have different political challenges, and that we approach SMEs differently.
Because of these differences, the continuous development and testing of concepts and methods throughout the project have provided hands-on results that inspire public sector buyers across the North Sea Region.