Attractive city centre through place-innovative synergies

Results from the project

Co-creative place innovation in an arctic town

Attraktiva stadskärnor genom platsinnovation, slutrapport

Spaning om stadens utveckling, kapitel

Place Innovative Synergies for City Center Attractiveness: A Matter of Experiencing Retail and Retailing Experiences

Orienteringsbok: Platsinnovation för ett attraktivt samhälle

Malin Lindberg, professor, Luleå University of Technology

Around Sweden, efforts are being made to transform city centers into attractive meeting places, where shopping, service and experiences are mixed in innovative ways. The project develops knowledge and concepts for innovative synergies between retail and tourism, based on experiences from Piteå and Kiruna.

”Today, many city centers compete with online shopping and suburban/out-of-town shopping centers. To improve the city center’s attractiveness among residents, tourists, entrepreneurs and investors, it needs to offer unique experiences based on the specific nature of the site” says Malin Lindberg.

In Piteå and Kiruna – both of which are expanding, medium-sized towns in Norrbotten’s coast and inland – the project will study how a city center can become more attractive through so-called “place-innovative synergies” between retail and tourism, including activities, culture, restaurants and hotels. This is achieved through interviews and workshops with entrepreneurs, business promoters and municipality representatives, as well as participatory observations at industry events in Norrbotten and other parts of Sweden.

Synergies between retail and tourism
”The project’s preliminary results show that existing synergies between Piteå and Kiruna’s retail and tourism are mainly found in shopping malls, annual events and cultural heritage sites.”

In the shopping malls, synergies are created through events and themes such as dance performances and music concerts. Examples of synergy-creating events include the city festival Piteå Dansar och Ler, the football tournament Piteå Summer Games, Kiruna Snow Festival and Kiruna Book Festival. Synergies are there created through mutual marketing, package deals and bi-events. At cultural historical sites, shopping and other activities are combined based on the unique history of the site.

The project’s trend survey in innovative tourism and retail exposes several inspirational examples where innovative synergies are created through digital services in physical stores and tourism destinations as well as through innovative design of parks, house facades and other public environments.

”One conclusion is that there is great potential for more innovative synergies in the studied city centers. Therefore, workshops have been arranged, where new concepts for city center synergies have been jointly developed by entrepreneurs, business promoters and municipality representatives. One example is the concept Winter in Piteå, boosting winter experiences in the city center through an LED-light illuminated ice climbing pillar, snow cafes, winter playground, ice rinks, etc. Another example is Snow Chaos 2.0 in Kiruna, where the winter’s abundant snowfalls are harnessed in an activating activity and experience center, where the snow and ice are used in various creative ways.”

The aim of the project is to develop knowledge and concepts for attractive city centers, through place-innovative synergies between retail and tourism.

Project team
Malin Lindberg, Professor, Luleå University of Technology
Kristina Johansson, Senior lecturer, Luleå University of Technology
Helena Karlberg, CEO, Piteå Science Park
Johanna Balogh, Innovation manager, Piteå Science Park

Piteå municipality, Kiruna municipality, Destination Piteå, Företagarna Piteå, PiteåEntreprenörerna, Piteå Kvinnliga Företagare, Innovation Pite, Gallerian Piteå, Småstaden Piteå, BackCity Piteå, Kust hotell & spa, Pite Havsbad, RISE Interactive, etc.

More info is available at

The research programme Framtidens Fysiska Mötesplats is a partnership between the Swedish Retail and Wholesale Council and BFUF.


Project facts


Attractive city centre through place-innovative synergies

Research organization

Luleå University of Technology

Project Manager

Malin Lindberg


Kristina Johansson, Helena Karlberg,


2017 – 2019



Läs om projektet på svenska »

Malin Lindberg

Project Manager

Helena Karlberg

CEO, Piteå Science Park

Johanna Balogh

Innovation manager, Piteå Science Park

Kristina Johansson

Senior lecturer