Facts & Figures

The Baltic Sea Region (BSR) consists of the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), northern Germany, northern Poland and Northwestern Russia. Within the group of countries there are strong traditions of collaboration within the different subgroups and after the end of the cold war there has been a growing interest in restarting collaboration and integration of activities around the Baltic Sea. The ambition of the BSR Stars project is to enhance this collaboration and make the region a stronghold for innovation, building on common factors such as open societies, highly educated people with international perspectives, advanced universities, leading private companies and advanced innovation clusters.

As an outcome of their historical trajectories the countries differ in size, prosperity, and economic dynamism. Where the Nordic countries and Germany are often recognized in different surveys as leading innovation countries, and where the Eastern countries are often seen as lagging, but growing. Due to the differences between the countries there is a potential for complementarities in capabilities, at the same time it has been observed that there is a lack of community and common vision between the countries that prevents them from fully benefiting from combining these complementarities. The BSR Stars programme will create communication channels and platforms for collaboration to grow the awareness of the joint possibilities.

On a global scale it is quite a small region, both population wise and as a share of global GDP. The BSR has approximately 57.5 million inhabitants and a labor force of 27.5 million people in 2009, down 635.000 persons from 2008. Despite this negative trend, the region had registered 1.5 million more employed than a decade ago. The region’s annual GDP (PPP adjusted) is approximately €1,200 billion, which is around 11% of the EU-27 economy or more or less the size of the Italian economy. Of the Region’s total GDP the Nordic countries stand for 58% of the total, Northern Germany and Northwestern Russia for 14% each and the Baltic countries 7% and Northern Poland 5.5%. In these times of crisis it is important to note though that of the BSR countries, the only one with positive growth in 2009 was Poland. Norway had a moderate decline. The GDP of the Baltic countries fell with 15%-20%, and the rest of the BSR contracted with 5% to10%.

The Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS) separates the countries of the European Union and seven other European countries in to four performance groups with relation to innovation, based on 24 indicators. These four groups are the Innovation leaders, Innovation followers, Moderate innovators and Modest innovators. The four Innovation leaders of the IUS, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden are also parts of the BSR. Estonia is Innovation follower, but is also part of the group of growth leaders, indicating that they may rise to the top group. Poland is Moderate Innovator and Latvia and Lithuania are Moderate innovators. Of the non-EU countries, Iceland is an innovation follower and Norway a Moderate innovator. At the same time the BSR countries differ with respect to relative strengths and weaknesses implying that there are many possible complementarities.

Denmark has its strengths in the research systems, in linkages & entrepreneurship and Intellectual assets, but with relative weaknesses in Finance, Innovators and Outputs.

Finland’s strengths are in Human resources, Finance and Linkages & entrepreneurship. Relative weaknesses are in Intellectual assets, Innovators and Outputs.

Germany is strong in Intellectual assets, Innovators and Outputs. Relative weaknesses are in Human resources, Finance and support and Linkages & entrepreneurship.

Sweden’s strengths are in Human resources, the research system and Finance. Relative weaknesses are in Firm investments, Innovators and Outputs.

Estonia has its strengths in Human resources, Firm investments and Linkages & entrepreneurship. Relative weaknesses are the research systems, Intellectual assets and Outputs.

Iceland’s strengths are in the research systems, Finance, Firm investments and Linkages & entrepreneurship. Relative weaknesses are in Intellectual assets and Outputs.

Norway is strong in Human resources, the research systems, Finance and Linkages & entrepreneurship. Relative weaknesses are in Firm investments, Intellectual assets, Innovators and Outputs.

Poland’s strengths are in Human resources and Outputs. Relative weaknesses are in the research systems, Linkages & entrepreneurship and Intellectual assets.

Latvia’s relative strengths are in Human resources and Finance. Relative weaknesses are the research systems, Linkages & entrepreneurship and Innovators.

Lithuania’s relative strengths are in Human resources and Finance. Relative weaknesses are in the research systems, Intellectual assets, Innovators and Outputs.