Arctic Industry and Circular Economy cluster


  • Ecosystem of the Arctic Industry is an operational environment and unique innovation platform.
  • The process industry, which is largely concentrated in the Kemi-Tornio region, actively searches for new, eco-innovative ways to modernise its processes
  • Management of by-product processes of industries and process optimisation in the Kemi-Tornio region is a prioritised issue.
  • The annual volume of by-products and residues of Kemi-Tornio large scale industries amounts to 1,7 million tonnes.
  • Rovaniemi is the administrative centre of Lapland and an important regional centre of public governance for mining in Finland.
  • Mining industry is active throughout Lapland.
  • With the long traditions in Lapland the coexistence between industries using natural resources has been amicable.

Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster connects process- and mining industry companies, SMEs serving industry, universities, research institutions, funding and regional authorities to a same co-operation network. Common goal for Lapland is to be a frontrunner in sustainable utilization of natural resources and sustainable industry and circular economy activities. The work in progress for sustainable industrial refining has been notified on national, Nordic and EU levels. Systematic cluster development started in 2014, when Lapland was chosen as one of the model regions of European cluster initiative with six other regions.

Lapland has been able to innovatively benefit from natural strengths of the region for cluster development. Selection for showcase, has led to strong, still ongoing, cooperation with European Secretariat of Cluster Analysis (ESCA).

With the establishment of this cluster hosted by the regionally operating development agency Digipolis Oy, the Region of Lapland has taken a very important step in contributing to the development and strengthening of the circular economy related activities.

Sitra (Finnish Innovation Fund) published the national circular economy road map (2016) for years 2016-2025, which collates the best national pilots, ideas and practices in the field of circular economy. Sitra has set the goal for finding the best models and apply them throughout Finland. One of the key initiatives of the road map is Kemi-Tornio circular economy innovation platform, where the idea is to create tools for companies through open, cross-sectoral and network based co-operation to improve the utilisation of industrial production and society based side streams. In June 2017 Sitra decided to establish a national Bio and Circular Economy Centre in Kemi. Centre is natural cause for ambitious and determined work in the region. Bio and Circular Economy Centre gathers together the experts, who response to business initiated circular economy challenges based on network model built during past years.

Active partnerships in the EU projects

In Lapland, resource efficiency and smart utilisation of raw materials in addition to increasing self-sufficiency are targets that are creating competitive advantage for industries in Finland and European Union. Mining and metallurgy have an important role when pursuing these targets, which has led to systematic development of industrial circular economy activities in Lapland.

During 2013 Lapland started an active communication with European commission and other international stakeholders. As a result, and most developed example, The Regional Council of Lapland took a leading position on initiative of building a network of mining regions in the EU and invited other interested regions and partners on board. The network was launched together with European commission DG GROW unit of Raw Materials and Resource Efficiency. Process was supported by East & North Finland EU Office, ERRIN (European Regions Research and Innovation Network) and European Committee of the Regions. Based on mining regions network, Regional Council of Lapland is coordinating REMIX Interreg Europe project, which includes nine other regions.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest European Union Research and Innovation programme ever, organised over the years 2014 to 2020. Its goal is to ensure EU produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together. Arctic Industry and
Circular Economy Cluster partners, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) have formed successful partnerships under the Horizon 2020 programme.

The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) is an active partner in the Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster especially in terms of the mining industry sub-cluster. In the Horizon 2020 call for projects in 2017, the cluster cooperation resulted in two new projects that will be implemented in 2017–2020. The MIREU (Mining and Metallurgy Regions of EU) project will produce a European network of regions with economic interest in mineral raw material production. In addition to GTK as the MIREU coordinator, the Regional Council of Lapland and the University of Lapland are included in the consortium as core project partners. GTK also participates in the other Horizon 2020 project MINLAND, which concentrates on land-use issues associated with mining industry.

With the support and contacts provided by the Arctic Smartness clusters, another active arctic Industry partner Natural Resources Instute Finland (Luke) achieved partnership in a Horizon 2020 project ROSEWOOD (European Network of Regions on Sustainable Wood Mobilization) in 2017 – the first one for the institute in Finnish Lapland. “The two-year experience with the Arctic Smartness society has thoroughly changed my work and also my attitude towards regional cooperation and internationalisation”, says Dr. Kari Mäkitalo, Senior Scientist from Natural Resources Institute Finland.

All these European partnership projects will benefit from the strong and ongoing Arctic Smartness cooperation in Lapland.

Cluster Manager Tuomas Pussila
+358 50 461 1236

“The two-year experience with the Arctic Smartness society has thoroughly changed my work and also my attitude towards the regional cooperation and internationalisation.”

– Dr. Kari Mäkitalo, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Rovaniemi

Case example of cooperation

The Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster brings together processing and mining companies, SMEs, universities, research institutes, funders and regional authorities. The common goal is to be a frontrunner in the sustainable utilisation of natural resources and in sustainable industry and circular economy activities.  Pohjaset Oy is one of the companies that utilises the cluster network.

Pohjaset Oy

Pohjaset Oy is a family-owned business that has been operating for more than 60 years. It employs 120 people. The operating area of the Pohjaset Group covers a large part of Finland and northern Sweden. The Group consists of three companies: Pohjaset Oy, Pohjaset Recycling Oy and Pohjaset Kiinteistöpalvelut Oy, and the business is divided into bioenergy services, recycling services and logistics services.

The company aims to promote sustainable development and the circular economy by offering customised services. Operational management, safety, competence development and continuous improvement create the basis for long-term partnership-based customer relationships.

Pohjaset Oy cooperates with various stakeholders, both based on business needs and with the perspective of developing the broader operational environment.

– We strive to be active in many areas, and for all parties to benefit from the cooperation, says Kari Poikela, Development Director of Pohjaset Oy.

Pohjaset Oy has an active role in various clusters. In addition to the Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster, Pohjaset Oy belongs to one of the industry clusters in Finnish Lapland; the Automotive and Logistics cluster, with Raimo Pohjanen (the Sales Director of Pohjaset Oy) acting as the vice-chairman of the cluster. Pohjaset Oy is aiming to actively advance the development of different clusters.

Pohjaset Oy cooperates with Digipolis – Kemi technology park and the Circular Economy Centre on concrete circular economy development projects. Poikela is the chairman of the steering group for the Industrial Circular Economy Knowledge Platform (TKO) project, funded by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and led by Digipolis. The project develops the circular economy operating environment.

Pohjaset Oy also cooperates with educational institutes and universities. The cooperation enhances the competence of the personnel and accelerates the RDI activities of the company. Pohjaset Oy carries out development work in learning environments together with the Lapland Vocational College and offers students the opportunity to get on site to see the work in practice. Operational models are developed together by considering the needs of both parties. E.g. a video was produced together on operating safely and efficiently in a loading situation. The same video serves students and Pohjaset Oy staff as orientation and training material, and also others as a safety guide. The company offers thesis assignments and internships for students, which means that students have better working life skills when entering the workforce.

Pohjaset Oy has carried out various projects with the Lapland University of Applied Sciences. E.g. they have facilitated a workshop together as a part of the company’s strategy process, and piloted a training program for supervisors. Potential candidates for the program have been recruited to increase their management capacity. Possible technologies for different needs have also been tested together, developing and deepening the collaboration even further.

These examples showcase the importance of networking. Cooperation is mutually beneficial, because it generates qualified experts into the workforce. With the help of training, the supervisors become better leaders, and they gain understanding of new technologies on the market and how they can be utilised.

– It is important for educational institutions and other organisations to build trust between actors, to listen and be able to adapt to companies’ needs. You need to know the people and certain nodes of the network to be able to share and receive information, Poikela emphasises.