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250 participants from 20+ countries joined us at the Nordic Place Branding Conference last week in Helsinki. We were hosted by our partners City of Helsinki, Business Finland, and Nordic Talks, under the Good Places for a Good Life umbrella theme.
The scene was set from the get-go when our moderator, Morten King-Grubert, stated that on paper, let’s face it, most of the participants are straight-up competitors. But when one digs deeper, we are much more than that. We are part of a larger community of Nordic and European peers, who share similar challenges. How do we convince politicians and stakeholders to prioritize efforts? How do we develop state of the art services and solutions, while understanding trends and industry developments?
The conference covered a very wide range of topics, from place branding to talent attraction, placemaking, tourism, and investment attraction. There were too many speakers to name them all here (but you can find then all here!) however it’s safe to say that there was something for everyone.
Many were impressed by the case of Startup Madeira, which has turned a touristic island into an entrepreneurship hub, and a destination for digital nomads. Others were big fans of leading cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen sharing their impressive journey in economic development. Meanwhile Iceland showcasing campaigns using humor and empathy had everyone in laughter and in awe of their creativity. The entire room was moved by the story of Salla municipality ‘In the Middle of Nowhere’ in Finnish Lapland, with its campaign denouncing the effects of climate change.
Morten waving from the stage
Hearing from global talents currently living in the Nordics during the “Why Nordics” panel debate created a great opportunity to zoom in on what really is the Nordic way that stands out? How Nordic places utilize this unique DNA in place development and place promotion, serving to inspire others across Europe and beyond to collaborate in United Nations sustainability goals.
The key purpose of this conference was not for participants to ‘just’ hear the speakers, but to have the opportunity to share knowledge and inspiration, to meet potential new partners and strengthen old ties, and simply see colleagues from across Europe (and beyond) face-to-face again during the various break outs, workshops, and side events.
This leads us also to some of the parting words from the main stage: ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’ as delivered by Winston Churchill. Now it is time for the participants to move from inspiration to reflection and action working together across borders and sub-industries of economic development to become the good places for a good life that the world needs right now.
The Future Place Leadership team behind the Nordic Place Branding Conference