Globalised Economy in Värmland
Detailed description of the Good Practice
One of the most basic elements in traditional economic geography is the understanding of economic activities’ location as becoming increasingly footloose. A growing awareness of the importance of the local and regional levels has however emerged within the so-called ‘new’ economic geography approach. One major topic here is the importance of social networks.
The notion that company and industry-specific knowledge and skills should be utilised in regional growth programmes is a central idea in the discussions of regional innovation systems. This is also a central idea in the Regional Development Programme of Värmland.
Objectives of the Good Practice
to use company and industry-specific knowledge and skills in regional growth programmes
Participants of the Good Practice
industrial enterprises of the region
universities of the region
Target group of the Good Practice
industrial enterprises of the region
More Details of the Good Practice
The industrial background of the region is of importance here in order to better understand the strategy of the programme. During the high point of the paper and pulp industry in the 1950s and early 1960s, large parts of Värmland were divided in terms of ownership between two large forest fiefdoms, namely, Uddeholm and Billerud. Apart from a few large paper and pulp industries (primarily Skoghall), Uddeholm’s base was the iron and steel industry. Billerud was first and foremost orientated towards the paper and pulp industry (primarily the Gruvöns Bruk mill), but it also owned a number of large sawmills. A significant difference also existed in ownership terms between western and eastern Värmland. A relatively high percentage of private forest owners in the west combined agriculture and forestry, whereas eastern Värmland was dominated by company-owned forests.
In skills terms, industrial development based on forest-based resources has given rise to an extensive store of knowledge on processes and products. The growth of this expertise was nourished by the close relationships between firms and industries in the region. The exchange of personnel between companies in close proximity to one another additionally facilitated learning processes and skills, creating a fertile environment for innovation. Company research and development departments have also gradually undergone a process of concentration.
The interaction between company research resources and university research has taken on greater importance in development work. Research and development at Karlstad University in particular has proved vital for the forest industry of the region. The advent of a civil engineering programme orientated towards chemical technology and research on paper coating are examples of the key role played by the university. There are several research directions within the “Forest, Environment and Materials” knowledge profile at Karlstad University that are relevant to the investigation of innovation systems. A strategic research field entitled: “The Properties and Function of Packaging” was also recently established at the university. In addition, regional companies often also possess significant in-house research resources.
Värmland’s clusters, the Paper Province, the Packaging Arena, Steel and Manufacturing, have without doubt been highly successful. They have each emerged from the traditional regional industries and today consist of companies in the paper and pulp and steel industries respectively. The purpose of these clusters is to promote skills development, marketing, project development and regional growth processes.
The fact that Värmland is home to a unique expertise endowment in the forest industry sector is obvious.The most significant impact here can however be observed in the computer and telecoms sector, where new products and models targeted at an affluent group of consumers are launched one after the other. The paper and pulp industry in Värmland has also tried to find ways to develop the value chain from forest and paper to various types of special products. As a result the whole region is now being promoted as “The Packaging Arena”.
Documentation and documents
Tlf: +46 (0)8 463 54 00
Fax: +46 (0)8 463 54 01
Data sources and references
http://www.nordregio.se/?vis=artikkel&fid=8542&id=1410200918002228126 (Accessed 21, October, 2009)