New Nordic report: Finland and Denmark lead the way in innovation

16.02.18 | News
Slush 2016
Matts Lindqvist
State of the Nordic Region – a new report from the Nordic Council of Ministers – analyses key data from the Nordic countries, comparing them across borders and regions. The figures show that the Nordic Region remains strong on innovation, with Finland and Denmark leading the way.

Driven mainly by Finland, Denmark and Sweden, the Nordic Region remains a European and global leader in innovation.

Finland tops the EU eco-innovation index at 137, compared to the European average of 100. Denmark is the runner up at 126 and Sweden scores 115, putting three Nordic countries right at the top.

European competition

The data also shows that other countries are also performing well and starting to approach the strength of the Nordic Region, including previous poor performers like Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Greece and Portugal. Conversely, the Nordic Region has put further distance between itself and previous tough competitors for green solutions such as Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

All of the Nordic countries come in above the average of index 100 in 2010 on the European Innovation Scoreboard, the European Commission's official scale for national innovation performance based on 18 variables.

Sweden is top on 143, Denmark is on 138, Finland 131 and Norway has made an impressive jump from 100 last year to 117 now.

Regional investments in research

One of the key factors explaining Nordic innovation strength may be the prioritisation of research in the Region, a sphere in which the report shows clear growth. The trends in regional investment in research and development 2007–2015 show marked increases in key areas.

Unfortunately, investment is down in large parts of Finland, by as much as 6% in some places. By comparison, investment in research in regions like South- and Mid-Jutland in Denmark, Stockholm, Malmö, Greater Oslo, southern Norway and the whole of the North of Norway is up by 6%.

Nordic knowledge transfer

State of the Nordic Region is published every two years and is part of a general attempt by the Council of Ministers to provide decision makers with greater knowledge and insight.

It highlights our successes and sheds light on the challenges we face in key areas of society. This is Nordic co-operation at its best.

“State of the Nordic Region compiles knowledge and information that provides a holistic perspective on developments in the Region and helps decision-makers to draw up new policies. It highlights our successes and sheds light on the challenges we face in key areas of society. This is Nordic co-operation at its very best,” says Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten.


State of the Nordic Region is a unique collection of data on economics, demographics, employment, education, and much more, illustrated with specially designed national maps. Published every other year by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the report ‘takes the temperature’, as it were, of the regions and local authorities. It includes a Regional Potential Index showing how dynamic the 74 different areas that make up the Nordic Region are based on traditional, comparable, statistical parameters. The index was designed by Nordregio, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ research centre for regional development and planning.

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