Networking to unleash the potential of the Baltic Sea Region

Using networks to bring innovations in the area of health and life sciences to deployment: this is the idea behind the non-profit organisation ScanBalt, which is running several projects as part of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

The basic idea of ScanBalt is to bring together actors within the sizeable source of expertise and market that is the Baltic Sea region, with its almost 130 million inhabitants. This is the message from Lars Lindsköld from the Västra Götaland Region, which is taking part in several ScanBalt projects.

"The Baltic Sea region – sometimes dubbed the 'top of Europe' – in many ways shares a common culture and history. Most of the countries in the region are relatively small economies, with small populations, but together they constitute a very exciting market. ScanBalt wants to help unleash that potential," he explains.

'Deploy or die'

A good innovation alone is not enough, Lars Lindsköld says. For it to be useful, it is often necessary to have partners involved in financing, production and sales, for example.

"ScanBalt wants to make sure innovations are deployed by acting as a bridge between relevant actors in the Baltic Sea region. Innovations only achieve a real value when they are used. Quite simply, it's deploy or die."

Flagship project

ScanBalt is funded mainly through membership fees, but it has also received funding for several projects as part of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Over the years, ScanBalt has channelled more than EUR 18 million for its members in the form of external funding from the EU.

An example is the flagship ScanBalt Health Region (SBHR) project. The aims of SBHR include bringing together the region's expertise in the area of life sciences and health, and creating a platform for trans-regional cooperation.

"Individuals working together in a group have great opportunities to contribute to the transformation of society through their involvement. Hence our premise: collaboration without influence but with participation. ScanBalt focuses on participation alongside relevant organisations, institutions and SME partners. This strategy has proved successful in achieving welfare goals around the Baltic," Lars Lindsköld says.