Felix is the Opportunity Manager at Greater Stavanger.
How to reposition a region and earn a new reputation? Involve stakeholders, build a smart city, clean energy cluster and get the story out there.
Enter the Stavanger Smart Region, a collaboration platform for the municipalities, academia, research institutes, and private companies. From gaining lighthouse status with the Horizon 2020 EU project in 2014, many smart city projects and initiatives have followed. First they created the Nordic Edge Expo, a smart city conference was created along with a smart city office with four employees and a smart city roadmap with broad political anchoring.
Then in 2017, the region became the home for the official Norwegian Innovation Cluster on Smarter cities and communities. The cluster consists of 11 core companies and 50 partners and aims to be a driving force for developing smarter cities and communities. Thirdly, there is the Norwegian Energy Solutions which is an energy cluster with the overarching purpose of developing new low emission and sustainable energy solutions.
Also, there are technology and competence transfer projects between the oil and gas industry and the health sector, making technology transfers a reality.
What is interesting, is that the common factor of all of these initiatives is the political anchoring and involvement of key stakeholders from the very beginning. In other words, the branding process starts at home – with the municipalities, at your university, private companies, and with the politicians. With this in place, Greater Stavanger took the message out to the citizens, the country and the world.
What can others learn? The transformation from being the oil and gas capital of Europe to also being recognised as a leading smart region is not the result of big marketing campaigns, but rather many small and big initiatives and projects combined with strong political anchoring and stakeholder involvement. Several Norwegian cities are looking to Stavanger for guidance and inspiration for their smart city work and strategies and the innovation tourism is rapidly growing.
Svanhild will talk about how the restructuring of economic growth towards sustainability can have reputational benefits for a region.