Scandinavia – developing the three-city axis
Cooperation between three Scandinavian cities is not just about cities, it’s about the future green-development of the entire Mid-Scandinavia corridor linking the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic.
Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.
The SÖT transnational cooperation project is built around creating economic growth through the development of environmentally friendly transport and infrastructure, increased student mobility, connecting students with industry, and the development of Sundsvall, Östersund and Trondheim as attractive cities to visit, live and study in.
The project brings together Sundsvall on the east coast of Sweden and Östersund on the border with Norway, and Trondheim on the west coast of Norway – hence the name of the project, SÖT. The main objective of SÖT is to develop trans-regional and trans-national cooperation along this Swedish-Norwegian corridor. It is considered essential for this peripheral region of Europe, to increase its competitiveness and attractiveness.
Five key goals have been set out for this project. Firstly, the project seeks to develop and implement renewable energy solutions for transport systems, based on electricity, water, wind and bio-fuels. It also intends to establish filling-stations for environmentally friendly fuels and charging poles for electric vehicles while simultaneously developing business opportunities linked to environmentally friendly transport and infrastructure. Additionally, it aims to support the region’s universities and colleges through R&D activities and the development of technology connected to transport systems and energy production and finally, it plans to strengthen east-west cooperation.
The project has established partnerships at the regional and national levels with energy companies, universities and colleges, as well as car manufacturers. The centre piece, is the Green Highway, which allows electric cars to run from Trondheim to Sundsvall. Along its length are electricity and other renewable refuelling points, with traditional petrol stations transformed to provide different types of renewable energy refuelling points. The infrastructure for four-season outdoor testing of electric vehicles along Green Highway has also been established for the car industry.
Out of this project, different platforms for discussions have developed, linking business, the R&D community and politicians. These trans-national networks have also contributed to better cooperation between our politicians, industry and the regions’ universities and colleges.
As a result of the Green Highway’s greener, cleaner transport successes, the knock-on effect has been to highlight the region as an even more attractive place in which to live, work and visit.