Facts not opinions
The Fehmarn Belt axis: a knowledge region emerges
There is a long tradition of collaboration along the Fehmarn Belt axis; in other words, between the Hamburg metropolitan region and the Øresund region. As early as in 1863, the Danish government drew up plans for the shortest transport link between Hamburg and Copenhagen, these becoming concrete 100 years later with the construction of the Fehmarn Sound Bridge.
This so-called Vogelfluglinie (bird flight line) transport corridor was then extended in 2000 when the Øresund Bridge went into operation as a land link between Denmark and Sweden. This helped boost the social and economic integration of the Copenhagen metropolitan area, Sweden’s third-largest city Malmö and the science hub Lund.
Based on these experiences, the Danish government seized the initiative in 2008 and promoted the signing of a treaty between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany for the construction of a fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt. This treaty was then ratified in 2009.
Facts about regional development along the Fehmarn Belt axis
The Fehmarnbelt Business Council (FBBC) has been overseeing the project since the beginning. It is the FBBC’s objective to make the most of the opportunities generated by the new infrastructure and to identify and tackle any challenges early on. This can make continued social and economic integration all along the Fehmarn Belt axis a success.
In order for the FBBC to achieve its objective, the areas of action required for the region to continue to grow together must be identified and the appropriate projects need to be implemented. And the debate regarding the pros and cons of a Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link, the opportunities for regional development and the past results of German–Danish collaboration is to be made more objective and be backed up on the basis of quantifiable facts.
The FBBC therefore decided in 2017 to measure the effects (= results) of integration so far along the Fehmarn Belt axis in order to provide answers to the question as to how well-integrated the region is. The Fehmarn Belt Index, or FBx for short, is used to gauge this.
It is the FBBC’s objective to make the most of the opportunities generated by the new infrastructure and to identify and tackle any challenges early on.
The Fehmarn Belt Index (FBx) at a glance
To objectively answer the question as to how integrated the region along the Fehmarn Belt axis is, the FBBC sets great store by a comprehensive understanding of the term integration. It comprises not only economic, but also scientific, social and transport integration. As such, the FBx measures integration in four areas:
- Integration of the labour market
- Economic integration
- Scientific integration
- Transport integration
The FBx is a composite index comprising four sub-indices and its general structure is comparable with that of the Øresund Integration Index (Öresundskomiteen, 2013). This measured the development of integration in the Øresund region over a 15-year period.
Analysis of an index makes sense when developments can be observed over an extended period. In the case of the FBx, its early development means it can be used to measure how the Fehmarn Belt region grows together both before and after the fixed link is completed. The year 2008 was chosen as the reference year for the FBx as this includes the financial and economic crisis of 2007/08.
FBx Index for science, technology and innovation at a glance
The area of science, technology and innovation (STI for short) is de facto of particular importance regarding the perception of regional integration along the Fehmarn Belt axis:
Regional scientists point out that (improved) cross-border cooperation in the area of STI is de facto of relevance to future developments (Lundquist and Trippl, 2009). This has already been addressed as an issue within the context of the Øresund link, with the even greater development (and its measurement) of a region driven by innovation being hindered by the lack of a measuring instrument (Nauwelaers et al., 2013).
The need to focus on the topic of STI is likewise underscored by measurement of the perception of integration. In a representative study of attitudes and expectations regarding the fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt (IPSOS, 2017), 26 per cent of those surveyed (n = 1,000 in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, top two boxes) stated that they anticipated ‘improved cooperation in the area of research’. This was the lowest expectation among the 14 possible statements.
In view of this, the FBBC decided to afford the topic of STI along the Fehmarn Belt axis extra weight and make regional integration in this area (more) quantifiable. This is achieved with the FBx sub-index ‘Science, technology and innovation’.
This comprises three underlying indices that reflect the activities in the area of innovation and scientific cooperation between the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region. These comprise:
- Joint registration of patents from applicants based in the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region (other patent applicants based outside of the region may also be involved)
- Joint publication of the results of scientific research produced by authors based in the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region (other authors based outside of the region may also be involved)
- Joint execution of EU-funded research and development projects with coordinators and/or participants based in the German and Danish parts of the Fehmarn Belt region (other coordinators and/or participants based outside of the region may also be involved)
The three indices form the input side of innovation in the region together with ‘R & D projects’ and ‘Scientific publications’, and the output side together with ‘Patent applications’ (Carvalho, Carvalho and Nunes, 2015). The corrected underlying indices ‘R & D projects’ and ‘Scientific publications’ each account for 40 per cent of calculation of the FBx STI Index, with the corrected underlying index ‘Patent applications’ accounting for the remaining 20 per cent. Regarding the different weighting of the sub-indices, please refer to the detailed remarks of the OECD (Freudenberg, 2003).
The data used to calculate the three underlying indices and the corresponding benchmark indices is sourced from the OECD (patents by regions), Web of Science (scientific publications) and the European Commission (cross-border research and development projects).
Taking these measurement notes into account, the FBx STI Index indicates a positive development over time, with the index having almost doubled between the reference year of 2008 (= 100) and 2017 (= 194). The ‘Science, technology and innovation’ category can therefore be considered a driver of regional integration overall. There was a particularly positive development on the input side, while there appears to still be potential for development on the output side.
Figure 1 – The FBx STI Index (as at November 2020)
As of 30.03.2021