In Lapland, Arctic Smartness concept is the leading initiative for implementing smart specialisation. The implementation of Arctic Smartness is based on regional cooperation, and it works like an ecosystem, where the actors share common goals to develop Lapland. Arctic Smartness Clusters act as engines for the regional development. Networks support the activities of the clusters and projects act as instruments for carrying out individual activities.
Lapland is by its nature an international region
Arcticness is a natural part of everyday life in Lapland. The people living in Lapland have adapted themselves and their activities to their environment and surrounding nature with a goal of becoming high level experts in Finland and in the EU on sustainable development of the northernmost regions.
The Arctic is one of the cleanest and best-preserved places on earth but facing yet many dynamic and complex changes. Worldwide interest towards Arctic natural resources and the impact of climate change place Arctic countries and areas to a new position. Balancing with sustainable development sets new challenges for the Arctic.
In addition to challenges, global changes bring great potential. Lapland, as the northernmost region of Finland and European Union, is in the middle of these universal changes and opportunities. Sustainable development is the foundation of growth in Lapland. Looking for the the best balance in the utilisation of natural resources leads to continuous economic and social benefits for the current generations and the ones to come. Smart and arctic knowledge, sustainable utilisation of natural resources and strong communities are the evolving competitive advantages of Lapland.
The objective of international cooperation is to increase the produced added value for everyday life in Lapland and support regional growth.
Foundation of smart specialisation in Lapland
Lapland was one of the first regions in Finland to adapt smart specialisation (S3). The systematic approach and strong strategic focus has led to recognition by the European Commission in good practice of governance. The vision of Lapland’s smart specialisation is to enjoy a leading position in sustainable utilisation and commercialisation of Arctic natural resources and conditions. Lapland is a melting pot of industries and it is one of Finland’s fastest growing regions with its backbones in forestry, mining, metallurgy and tourism.
The Arctic Smartness brand
Smart specialisation has been put into practice on grass-roots level in Lapland under the Arctic Smartness brand. Through the five chosen Arctic Smartness clusters, Lapland is looking beyond the boundaries of traditional ways of doing things to get the best use of the regional expertise and strategic partnerships over the borders. All of the five clusters are implementing new local and European initiatives and projects creating a breeding ground for growth in the regional economy.
“Lapland’s Arctic Smartness concept gives a shining example of how regions may successfully enhance their development activities and utilisation of EU resources. Dedication, cooperation across different sectors and strong common vision are the key ingredients.”
– Kari Aalto, Director, East and North Finland EU Office
Lapland is a unique arctic region that strives to be the most innovative and business-driven sparsely populated area in the EU and Circumpolar Arctic by 2022. The Future aims are high, but the actions taken to reach this goal are concrete and remain close to the actors.
Necessary boost to regional development in Lapland has been discovered through international cooperation and by bringing regional actors together. During the past few years, Lapland has achieved an internationally significant status and acknowledgement for its innovativeness and efficient cluster activities. A concrete concept based on smart specialisation (S3) has facilitated connecting different regional development actors from universities to research institutes and development companies. Smart specialisation has generated new ways of collaboration across organisational boundaries and national borders, and the potential of this collaboration seems to have no limits.
Arctic Smartness is an approach to regional development established by actors in Lapland, and it functions as an ‘umbrella’ for all projects implementing smart specialisation in Lapland. “Lapland’s Arctic Smartness concept gives a shining example of how regions may successfully enhance their development activities and utilisation of EU resources. Dedication, cooperation across different sectors and strong common vision are the key ingredients”, says Kari Aalto, the director of East and North Finland EU Office.
Arctic Smartness activities provide stakeholders in Lapland continuous opportunities to participate different networks, both nationally and internationally. This will open up possibilities for new innovation, skills and funding, and furthermore, increase local know-how in regional development. At the same time, the actors must ensure that smart specialisation is put into practice to raise awareness about Lapland’s economy by producing feasible material and information about the statistics in the region.
The future of Lapland looks smartly excellent. “Via Arctic Smartness activities, we offer SMEs in Lapland a healthy and stable breeding ground for growth and development. With tightened cooperation between regional actors and entrepreneurs, we will become even more powerful in international networks and markets as well”, says Kristiina Jokelainen, Director of international relations in the Regional Council of Lapland.