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Hedmark-Dalarna (Norway-Sweden)

Hedmark County (Norway) and Dalarna County (Sweden) are both rural, with the border being remote from regional centres. The total population of less than half a million inhabitants spans across almost 58 800 km2, with an economic output of USD 22 billion. Efforts to support collaboration at the border focus on the sector of tourism that both share, and which would be facilitated by the construction of one airport to serve both sides. As most science and technology-related assets are located far from the border, the region does not seem to have the relevant conditions for a broad cross-border regional innovation policy since urban centres are perhaps better served by looking towards other locations rather than this border. On the border, efforts for innovation in other forms, such as in marketing and organisational methods in tourism, are more relevant.

This chapter is an excerpt of Nauwelaers, C., K. Maguire and G. Ajmone Marsan (2013), “The case of Hedmark-Dalarna (Norway-Sweden) - Regions and Innovation: Collaborating Across Borders”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2013/18, OECD Publishing, Paris,



Hedmark (Norway) and Dalama (Sweden) are two bordering rural counties. The area is characterised by unspoilt natural areas, several small municipalities and towns, and no major urban hubs (470 000 inhabitants in total).

Cross-border collaboration between Hedmark and Dalarna has a short history. Compared to other cross-border areas in the European Union, their collaboration is quite recent (less than a decade). Collaboration efforts began in the 1990s, on a limited scale, between the municipalities at the border and focused on tourism. For example, the closest Swedish border municipalities, Alvdalen and Malung/Salen, have a longer history of co-operation with Hedmark, dating back to 1995, through EU Territorial Co-operation funding (Interreg 2A programme). It was only in 2008 that broader cross-border regional co-operation began. The TRUST (“Growth and Regional Development in Scandinavia Together”) project broadened the scope beyond the border municipalities and had the specific goal to strengthen the institutional linkages between the two counties. The period between 2008-12 was the real starting phase of Hedmark-Dalarna cross-border collaboration, and ended with the creation of the Border Committee in 2012, providing a structural basis for this collaboration. Cross-border co-operation has so far been focused on practical border issues rather than on innovation activities.

The young Border Committee is in search of a vision. Local actors identify a mutual interest in building critical mass and improving accessibility to the ski destination along the border. The question for the cross-border area is whether the current joint co-operation opportunity around tourism provides the basis for broader co-operation to promote knowledge-intensive products and services.

Figure 5.1. The Hedmark-Dalarna cross-border area

Note: This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries.

Source: Hedmark-Dalarna Border Committee (2013).

Table 5.1. Socio-economic overview: Hedmark-Dalarna





Surface (km2)

57 796

27 398

30 398

Population (2012)

469 356

192 791

276 565

Population density (inhabitants/kmP)




Main cities


Falun and Borlange

Unemployment rate (2011)



Employment rate (2011 Norway; 2010 Sweden)



|Share of national GDP (2009)



Source: Hedmark-Dalama Border Committee.

Table 5.2. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for cross-border innovation policy:




  • - Cultural and linguistic proximity
  • - A common specialisation in tourism activities and some potential in forestry-related industries
  • - Attractive and pristine natural areas
  • - Presence of knowledge and support institutions oriented towards regional specialisations
  • - Cluster policies to develop new knowledge-based niches of activities
  • - Long distances and lack of infrastructure, limiting accessibility between regional centres
  • - Minimal potential for joint knowledge-based activities at the border
  • - Imbalance in wage levels and currencies that impede cross-border collaboration
  • - Depopulation and aging due to outmigration of youth
  • - Limited presence of dynamic and knowledge-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises
  • - Cross-border co-operation limited to public actors with weak involvement of private stakeholders (apart from the tourism industry)
  • - Weak cross-border cluster co-operation



  • - Growth of the nearby Oslo region
  • - Unique global brand for tourism based on sports, health and green assets
  • - Openness to cross-border co-operation with more knowledge-intensive areas in Inner Scandinavia (such as Akerhus and Varmland counties)
  • - Competitiveness of traditional industries in high-wage countries
  • - International (and national) competition in tourism destinations; rivalry of respective national tourism promotion
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