Innovative Norden trending in the US
To get from one place to another at the Nordic National Museum in Seattle, you have to cross glass walkways located six metres above the floor. The footbridges symbolise the fateful step made by many Nordic immigrants some 200 years ago to try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic. Today, it’s not Nordic immigrants, but innovative Nordic solutions that are crossing the Atlantic. The occasion is the Nordic Museum’s annual Nordic Innovation Summit, which has just taken place. It’s here that companies from five Nordic countries have presented their latest initiatives for the benefit of the global green transition.
A competitive Nordic Region
Since 2018, the Nordic Council of Ministers has funded The Innovation Summit through the Neighbours in the West programme. It provides an opportunity to profile the Nordic Region, promote Nordic green solutions in the North American market and thereby contribute to Vision 2030 and aspirations for a competitive and green Nordic Region. This year, Iceland holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers and Iceland’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir participated as one of the main speakers at the summit, where she emphasised the competitive opportunities this provides for everyone:
“The Innovation Summit creates new connections and strengthens the Nordic Region as a whole in relation to the US to provide opportunities for business co-operation for the benefit of both parties,” said Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir.
Commercial success and green solutions go hand in hand
The tagline of this year’s summit is Sustaining Sustainability, with the starting point being that a long-term significant ESG impact should not be in conflict with commercial success, but rather a fundamental driving force behind it. A large number of examples of this were raised by Nordic companies at the summit. One of them came from Sweden’s H2 Green Steel, which manufactures steel while reducing carbon emissions from the process by 95 percent. Henrik Henriksson, CEO of H2 Green Steel, explains that the Sweden-based company now feels it’s the right time to scale up and expand into the North American market, which this summit provides access to.
“In terms of our expansion, we’re looking at Washington State because of resources such as renewable hydropower, which is important to us, as well as other skills, knowledge and infrastructure,” says Henriksson.
In terms of our expansion, we’re looking at Washington State because of resources such as renewable hydropower, which is important to us, as well as other skills, knowledge and infrastructure.
A platform that benefits all
The Nordic Museum, which is hosting the summit, considers that it has a natural role as a platform for Nordic and North American companies to come together. According to Eric Nelson, CEO of the Nordic Museum, the museum exists to convey what is essentially Nordic – both past and present – as well as to build bridges between Nordic and North American partners. In this instance, the topic is innovation and sustainability within the business community, and both sides have a lot to gain. Eric points out that what the Nordic Region often brings to the table is innovation, equality and transparency. Meanwhile North American partners can offer insight into a large and complex market, as well as methods for scaling up. And all of this can be done within the green framework, as he points out:
“You can be very successful as a company and at the same time be sustainable,” says Eric Nelson, CEO of the Nordic Museum
The National Nordic Museum was founded in 1979 and is the only institution of its size in the US that presents the history and culture of the entire Nordic Region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland, and the Sápmi cultural region) and the heritage of Nordic immigrants to the US. Located on Seattle’s waterfront in an iconic building with a distinctly Nordic design, the institution is both a museum and a gathering place for the community. Since 2018, the Nordic Council of Ministers has funded the National Nordic Museum and the Innovation Summit.