The very first Nordic Match get-together during Helsinki Design Week in 2018 focused on the establishment of a creative exchange platform. The participants were prominent social designers and innovative entrepreneurs, known not only for their socially-rooted projects, but also as highly successful professionals. Michelle Lim from Sweden is a networking specialist; Björn Steinar Blumenthal from Iceland is a product designer and artist focusing on environmental impact; Sixten Kai Nielsen from Denmark is part of the team behind Human Hotel, a network for more sustainable accommodation on a human-to-human basis; Onny Eikhaug is programme leader of Design Centre Norway and has profiled large projects where design methodology has promoted social engagement and participation in urban development; and Arto Sivonen from Helsinki is CEO of the creative agency Måndag, which engages exclusively in value-based, socially responsible projects in its promotional campaigns. Nordic Culture Point was represented by Annukka Vähäsöyrinki and myself, both event producers.
So what did this very diverse group come up with?
Well, they devised a platform where anyone and everyone in the Nordic Region can put forward topics to be addressed: “What do we not discuss in the Nordics, which we should be dealing with?”. Once the topic for each Nordic Match week has been defined – there will be two each year – a local partner is found, which will work with the group of participants and offer up its expertise in return for their ongoing work. Nordic Match week in Helsinki (perhaps this model can be replicated and used in other Nordic cities in the future) is an intense exchange of ideas and knowledge, a bit like a hackathon.
However, making time to explore the city and get to know one another is a crucial ingredient of every Nordic Match week. It’s often in the breaks of a work process that new ideas are born and that networking friendships are established. Something that Michelle, Onny, Björn Steinar, Sixten, and Arto all agreed on? was that everyone who takes part does so because they benefit from it, personally and professionally, while sharing their knowledge with others and with society.
Here’s what our first guests had to say:
Like trust, equality and inclusion are values fundamental to our Nordic model of social governance. To involve the diversity of citizens in our mutual efforts towards a better Nordic society is at the core of what we’re trying to do here: to unlock and benefit from our region’s creative potential through Nordic Match.
Björn Steinar Blumenthal:
I believe in the power of collaboration over individual effort. That applies to the whole of the Nordic Region, too. There’s a lot to be gained from one another.
Nordic Match could create a structure, channels, and platforms to explore the potential of Nordic cities, not as competing entities, but as partners.
Sixten Kai Nielsen:
I’m interested in setting up frameworks for human-to-human interaction and experimentation. Nordic Match is all about that.
When a diverse group of people meet as our full selves we can unleash and amplify our creative potential.
Nordic Match, which is now launching its platform for applicants and proposals, is built on the foundations laid by the pilot last year. If you’d like to be part of shaping and developing this new platform, make sure you apply as a participant, host, or follower!
Senior Advisor, Nordic Culture Point