The Öresund Bridge stands as an analog monument of cross border collaboration and trade. A new Nordic initiative seeks to break down digital barriers and bridge a common digital market.
Running a cross-border business in the Nordics is not as easy as it could and should be. Non-native companies often have to figure out differences in registration and other business-related procedures which make things difficult and slow. But things are about to change.
Nordic Innovation, an institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers, is in collaboration with partners launching an initiative that will develop the region into a single Nordic digital market. The goal is to build digital bridges across the countries by means of creating common Smart Government, eID and Data Driven Innovation in the future.
“We have the potential of becoming a digital pioneering region. These solutions and others like them will create a more efficient interface between Nordic citizens, business and the public sector,” – says Frederik Waitz, communications advisor at Nordic Innovation.
A recent report “Nordic Digital Ecosystem” is used as core of project’s strategy, describing opportunities for Nordic digital collaboration.
The digital Nordic reality
According to the report, basic building blocks for common digital landscape are already in place. Nordic countries are interested in working together and learning from each other. There is also a high level of trust in the society towards public services. The major obstacle, however, is the lack of political attention to the Nordic digital collaboration. Each country is prioritizing its own digitalization strategies. Creating open access to state data is also proven to be difficult. As a result, Nordics are divided into five separate markets, which is unnecessary limiting.
Even the Öresund region, one of the best examples of cross-border integration, has little to show when it comes to shared digital state services. And this is something relevant for both tech startups as well as business in other areas.
“One of the biggest unnecessary issues in cross-border e-commerce, for example, is the registration of companies and branches in the new countries. These systems have little in common and have very poor support for non-native companies. Most Swedish e-commerce companies launching in Denmark have to use expensive consultants or lawyers just to register the company, which is ludicrous,” – says Dan Nilsson, e-commerce expert at ecomony.com and co-founder of the E-commerce Park of Sweden.
The Nordic digital opportunity
Imagine having shared smart government solutions, common eIDs and the same standards for public e-tenders and e-invoicing in all 5 countries. This will create a vast space for opportunities, giving companies easier access to a much larger market – the entire Nordic region. So no matter in which Nordic country you set up your business, it will be equally easy to run it in any other Nordic state.
The process of digitalization is an opportunity in itself. The Nordic Digital Ecosystem report highlights a few business cases that are possible through collaboration between governments and private parties. For example, Norway has established a conceptual architecture model for government ICT which includes the use of common components such as eID, Secure Digital Postbox, the Business Register, the Contact and Reservation etc. Notably, several of the newer common components, like the eID and the digital postbox solutions are provided from the state through partnerships with private actors.
A future Nordic digital society
The Nordic Digital Ecosystem report has not only given the highlights of the current situation but it has also helped to set a direction for digitalization strategy of the entire region. Nordic Innovation, who is leading the process, is currently working on creating a 2025 vision of a Nordic digital society, showcasing future digital opportunities for Nordic businesses and citizens. They launched a new website where it is easy to follow their progress – www.enternordic.info
With technology and support of major private and public stakeholders in place, digital bridges and a common digital Nordic market are not the matter of distant future anymore.