The Swedish government’s Environmental Technology Strategy was launched in 2011 with the aim of promoting entrepreneurship in the field of environmental technology, primarily through the use of industrial policy instruments such as selective support to firms within the environmental technology sector.
The strategy encompasses 24 different assignments to a total of twelve organisations, including Sweden’s Innovation Agency, Business Sweden (The Swedish Trade and Invest Council) the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, the Swedish Energy Agency and Almi. The aims of the assignments can be placed in three main categories – research and development, growth on the domestic market, and export and internationalisation.
One of the government’s aims for the strategy was to promote co-operation and collaboration among the many organisations involved in promoting environmental technology. The Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis, Growth Analysis, has reviewed whether and to what extent the strategy has brought about increased co-operation both within and between the organisations concerned. This study is based upon an analysis of interviews with the different organisations.
The main conclusion from this study is that the Environmental Technology Strategy has contributed till increased co-operation in a number of individual cases – both within as well as between the organisations concerned. We do not however find convincing evidence that this has had any major impact on the systemic level.
The strategy does not define a common problem or need to be targeted within the system for promoting environmental technology. We cannot see that the strategy was put together to address specific identified weaknesses within the system for promoting environmental technology. It is in fact rather a collection of separate, discrete assignments addressed to, or devised together with, the implementing organisations. The assignments are essentially a series of separate, time-bound projects. For these reasons, many of our respondents are of the opinion that the strategy is not actually a strategy, but rather a collection of assignments.
The organisations responsible for the assignments that were launched first report that they have had a sense of being part or a bigger picture and this sense was reinforced by meetings with the other organisations when the strategy was first launched. Organisations that received assignments later generally lack a sense of being part of a broader picture or strategy.
Despite these limitations, we have in our analysis identified several areas where the Environmental Technology Strategy has contributed to increased cooperation between organisations.
1. Despite the fact that many of the organisations report that they had forms of co-operation that predate the strategy, many of the assignments have led to co-operation with new divisions or sections within the organisations. In some cases this co-operation has been with divisions or sections that are otherwise not involved in the strategy.
2. In the case of some of the organisations concerned, the assignments within the strategy have led to different divisions working with environmental technology at the same time. This has led to new types of internal co-operation.
3. The need for co-operation has been greatest for assignments that are within the same category (R&D, growth on the domestic market, export/internationalisation). This has been most apparent for the export-related assignments, where many respondents initially saw problematic overlap in their roles and mandates.
4. The co-operation that has been built up under the strategy has in many cases been informal in nature and dependent on individuals, rather than institutionalised, which increases its vulnerability. A possible explanation is the assignments’ short time frame or project form.
The Environmental Technology Strategy is only a limited part of the total efforts to promote Swedish environmental technology, both as regards the total number or organisations concerned as well as the amount of financing allocated to the assignments as compared with the organisations’ total budgets. As a result it is difficult to achieve an ambition of systemic change through the strategy.
Co-operation between organisations promoting environmental technologies within the Environmental Technology Strategy