EU regional policy is a major part of the EU budget and aims to balance regional disparities and creating cohesion in the region. The funds finance projects in Sweden through 8 regional structural fund programs where Norrbotten and Västerbotten jointly constitutes a program area called Övre Norrland. Västernorrland and Jämtland Härjedalen jointly constitutes a program area called Mellersta Norrland.
All European Regions are eligible for funding allocated to regional development, but the bulk of the funds goes to less developed regions, foremost found among the more recent member states. North Sweden is, however, an exception and receives a proportionally large amount of project funding compared to other developed regions with strong innovation system. Northern Sweden receives approximately EUR 2 billion from the Regional Development Fund and the Social Fund, of these SEK 1 billion is an extra allocation intended to help overcome the special condition caused by the sparsely population geography. The funds are administered in Sweden by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, which organizes calls and accepts the applications, but it is regional representatives who set priorities and control which projects are to be financed.
EU-funded regional development projects
The funds finance development projects based on the region's own priorities but with certain priorities from the EU. Some examples on projects with funding from the European Regional Development Fund, ERDF, from the region follow below.
One of the single largest investments from the ERDF in the region during this program period was the Swedish Lapland project, which was awarded approximately 7.5 million euros for the development of the region's tourism industry. The project develops small, often one-man businesses, capacity to develop business models, marketing and international competitiveness.
RIT Space for innovation and growth
RIT is a regional development project with the aim of creating sustainable growth in Norrbotten and strengthening Sweden as a space nation. The project contributes to the space industry in the region strengthening its ability to cooperate between academia, business and actors in the innovation system. The project has been granted funds in two installments of a total of SEK 45 million.
Krenova - promoting creative business
The project Krenova supports the development of new and existing entrepreneurship in cultural and creative industries in Northern Sweden. Krenova conducts seminars and an extensive incubator business where creators are offered an office space, equipment and business advice. The project has received SEK 4.5 million from the ERDF and will continue until 2022.
Loket is a project that strives for contributing to sustainable growth in companies that are part of clusters, and to ensure Norrbotten's competitiveness. The goal is to create good conditions to build strong clusters within the county's priority industries. The project has received SEK 3.4 million from the ERDF and will continue until May 2023.