A region in industrial transition: Pilot Challenge Lab and Seed Fund North Middle Sweden

Challenge Lab and Seed Fund for North Middle Sweden (NMS) is focused on transformation for low carbon and resource efficient industry and society. This challenge aims to address industrial transition through transformative and innovative solutions to ensure a good life for its people and a sustainable and competitive future.

North Middle Sweden (NMS), comprised by the regions of Värmland, Dalarna and Gävleborg, is undergoing industrial transition with consequences for businesses, jobs and society. NMS has a long industrial heritage and has the potential to turn opportunities offered by current megatrends into regional growth, but there is a risk that these opportunities are missed. Positive industrial transition is the ability to respond to new market pressures and create new opportunities, for businesses, workers and society. Successful industrial transition not only depends on reviving economic growth but also on ensuring that growth is fairly distributed and creates opportunities for all.


In January 2018, the European Commission selected our area within its “Regions in Industrial transition” pilot. This pilot aims to identify new ways of developing a sustainable economy in European regions. The pilot is focusing on developing via innovation, so called smart specialisation, with strengthened interregional and inter-organisational collaboration.

This collaboration has developed the Industrial Transition Strategy for North Middle Sweden which is a framework for action on the challenges and opportunities in the region. A first stage of this is to develop and implement specific measures from this strategy in each member region and specific NMS activities, including testing new methods for transformation. The Challenge Lab and Seed Fund is one such measure, implementing a “high impact action” – a challenge lab on low carbon economy and resource efficiency society.

The Challenge Lab and Seed Fund aims to pilot an approach to address three industrial transition challenges:

• Low innovation capacity among Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs)*
• Lagging investments in research and innovation
• Lack of a joint strategic framework, governance and operators

Seed fund

The Challenge Lab Seed Fund aims to kick-start collaborative projects involving actors from across NMS that address shared complex systemic challenges related to low carbon and resource efficient industry and society. The Seed Fund is available as an initial support mechanism for ideas generated during the Challenge Lab. However, the Seed Fund is NOT exclusive to ideas generated under the Challenge Lab and is open to other applicants provided they meet the Seed Fund requirements below.

Seed Fund is available for financing initiatives by groups of companies and other actors from the counties in NMS (Dalarna, Gävleborg, Värmland) for RDI initiatives aimed at transformation for low-carbon and resource-efficient industry and society, up to 15,000 EURO per project. Seed Fund projects may NOT be funded by other public funds.


Seed Fund opens on March 26, 2021 and the last application date is May 17, 2021. Applications will be received on an ongoing basis and evaluated by the Challenge Lab Project Board.

Download the application form and read about the criteria and application process in the document below:

Challenge Lab Seed Fund - Application Form (doc)

Challenge Lab Seed Fund Guide (pdf)

Organizations supported by the Challenge Lab NMS Seed Fund will participate in monitoring activities and report the lessons and results in a seminar (tentatively scheduled for December 2021).

*The category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million.’ Extract of Article 2 of the annex to Recommendation 2003/361/EC See SME Guide