The Future Airport City

A research project for regional business development at OSL Gardermoen Airport

The Future Airport City is a research project that aims to explore the potential for future-oriented, sustainable and smart solutions for business, real estate and infrastructure development in the Gardermoen region. In this project, Ullensaker municipality will initiate a strategic and research-based innovation process in collaboration with relevant actors around the airport.

The project group consists of the following organisations:

  • Ullensaker municipality (Project Owner)

  • Oslo Airport City (Real Estate Developer)

  • Oslo Logistikkpark Gardermoen (Real Estate Developer)

  • Nannestad municipality (Partner Municipality)

  • Multiconsult (Research Partner)

Smart specialisation, based on comparative regional advantages

The challenges that Ullensaker municipality has gone through during the Covid19 crisis, with a complete halt in activities at the airport, show that the regional labor market is strongly dependent on the airport. In this research project Ullensaker municipality will implement an innovation process that aims to attract new business variety to the airport area. Research activities will address how real estate and infrastructure development around OSL-Gardermoen can contribute to triggering a smooth restructuring process that makes the region less vulnerable.


By smart, we mean to develop activities that build on the airport's comparative advantages. If the region succeeds in exploiting the potential created by the airport (airport city), the region will be able to become an even stronger economic locomotive. With enhanced economic variety at an international level OSL-Gardermoen Airport city will be able to attract innovative companies strengthening the labor market in the region. In this research project, Ullensaker municipality joins forces with two real-estate developers (Oslo Airport City and Oslo Logistikkpark Gardemoen) to explore the scope for developing urban and local qualities that can attract new variation in the local business community. Nannestad municipality is a partner in the project. Multiconsult will lead the research work in the project.

Airport Urbanism - a regional innovation system

In the research project ‘The future Airport City’, we will carry out research and network activities that can mainly be gathered under the umbrella ‘Airport Urbanism’ - a concept that is well known in international innovation literature. Oslo Airport City and Oslo Logistikkpark Gardermoen are two real-estate developers with particular ambitions for the Gardermoen Business Park, the area next to the airport. The research and innovation activities will have a special focus on following topics:

  • Which type of new business variety could be attracted that contribute to higher value creation and a more robust labor market around OSL-Gardermoen Airport?

  • How will real estate developers be able to position themselves strategically to meet future developments?

  • How can innovative urban and local development contribute to attracting new business variety?

  • What infrastructural prerequisites must be in place to support the establishment of new business and new urban and local qualities?

  • How can the municipality unite the local interests and anchor the strategic restructuring processes in its activities?

  • How to reconcile ambitions for business growth related to the airport's activities with regard to economic, social and environmental sustainability?

The research in the project has a theoretical basis in what is referred to as 'regional innovation systems' and economic geography. ‘Airport Urbanism’ refers to a research tradition that deals with regional innovation systems located around airports. There are unique comparative advantages associated with the infrastructure and activities at an airport. In the literature, Airport, Airport City and Airport Region are referred to as three geographical units that offer unique comparative advantages for business, real estate and infrastructure development. More specifically, this means that the Gardermo-region is a unique innovation system in the Norwegian context.

Five work packages and one Living Lab

The research and innovation activities will be carried out in the form of five work packages. A collaboration forum (LivingLab) is created for project partners and interested parties to meet for joint learning processes across the work packages.

  • Work package 1 – ‘Knowledge transfer’ will draw on experiences from other international airport cities. An international literature study will be conducted. This work package will be led by Dr. Tim Moonen from ‘The Business of Cities’ in London.

  • Work packages 2-5 – are outlined as specific business cases. This research will take place as in-depth analyzes (case studies) of the seafood industry, logistics and industry 4.0 manufacturing. Business case 3 will explore the opportunities for the development of a 'business and innovation district' attracting new knowledge intensive business variety. .

  • Work Package 6 - Livinglab, a collaboration arena is established for all project participants and interested parties in the region. Here we will put new knowledge and insights from the other work packages into practice. 


This research project will lead to new ideas for future business and real estate development around OSL-Gardermoen Airport.