The Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is a meeting place for stakeholders working together for a more sustainable and prosperous Baltic Sea region. Peyman Khodabakhsh and Darijus Valiucko from atene KOM joined the forum to share, with the stakeholders in the BSR, the CORA solutions for connecting and digitalising regions. The session “Digitalising and connecting the neighbourhood: solutions for the BSR” was organised jointly by the CBSS Secretariat (Daria Akhutina), City of Turku (Mikko Lohikoski), Centrum Balticum and atene KOM.
The speakers introduced and analysed digitalisation trends. In this context, Peyman Khodabakhsh explained the CORA approach and set the picture for the discussion during the session: one needs “digital infrastructure”, “digital skills” & “digital services” to prepare the regions for the digital world after 2020. The local authorities need and appreciate support in creating the local digital ecosystems. Other experts from around the Baltic Sea Region provided their insights and experiences to this topic: Lars Ahlbäck, CEO of Tilaajavastuu (an online platform for electronic services), addressed the topic of “digital services” by presenting the joint transnational platform for data sharing and building trust in the real estate and construction sector. Jury Vorotnitsky, Chairman of the Board for Digitalization Transformation of the Belarusian State University, looked into the “digital skills”, where development of master programmes in the field of complex integrated systems’ design prepares so much needed future skilled personnel. Svetlana Kochkaeva, Manager in the Center of science and technology foresight at ITMO University in St.Petersburg, draw attention to the macro perspective and explained, that one has to be aware of different possible futures. It seems the strategic collaboration on global challenges will play a role if we are to maintain the successful development of the region.
To illustrate how the knowledge and examples can be implemented locally, a case of City of Turku was examined. Juhani Ailio, Centrum Balticum, noted the expected population growth (more than 5% by 2030), “aging” of the inhabitants (over 24% of population is expected to be older than 65), decreasing unemployment, comparably good broadband infrastructure at affordable prices as well as growing demand for skilled labour. Based on these, the speakers made their recommendations to the developers of the Turku region, that could be summed up into: widening the platform and improving the environment for innovations and “smart” development, enabling the data flow between departments and authorities in the public administration and encouraging global thinking, “crazy ideas” and local acting.
The participants and speakers will include the experience from the session into their work on current and next projects, and meet again at the next annual forum in Gdansk in June 2019 to check how the ideas and approaches worked out.