Arctic Smart Rural Community
CLUSTER IN A NUTSHELL
- The objective is to prevent capital from fleeing rural areas and to demonstrate to other people that rural areas offer good possibilities for profitable business operations.
- The focus is on further processing of food and the development of decentralised renewable energy.
- Consists of mutually supportive sub-entities: the entrepreneurship, knowledge and regional development entities.
- A network of 100 entrepreneurs and 200 developers: municipalities, financiers, politicians, projects, research and
educational institutes and business advisors.
- Centralised and industry specific knowledge on food processing and multipolar energy production.
- Coordinates international development and project activities.
The current state of rural areas might seem depressing when viewed from Lapland, but in Europe Lapland is considered a treasure trove. The preconditions of rural life are dependent on the developing business activities. We live in the midst of nature’s own treasure trove. If we combine the expertise of those operating in different sectors in Lapland, we will have the knowledge and skills to develop the products and services that are already high in quality into world-class success stories. We just need to dismiss our notions of a dying countryside and trace a new smartly specialised, living rural Lapland of opportunities.
Arctic Smart Rural Community Cluster, i.e. Rural Cluster, aims to demonstrate to people by its actions the business potential of the rural area and to prevent the outflow of rural capital. One concrete example of the impacts of fleeing capital on the regional economy can be seen in Figure 1. Even if rural Lapland has enormous natural resources, we are not utilising them efficiently and sustainably enough at the moment. Rural Lapland is by no means a remote corner of the world, but is situated amidst incredible sources of raw material, which guarantee almost infinite uses by utilising the principles of circular economy.
Figure 1. Regional economic impacts of procurement.
At the moment, however, villages in Lapland purchase energy and food from outside Lapland with millions of euros annually. According to our studies, nearly 50% of the villages’ purchasing power is spent on energy and food. All these euros are fleeing the area, Lapland and even Finland, even though a major portion of energy and food could be produced locally in a sustainable and profitable manner. Luckily, we can have an impact on this by adjusting our way of thinking and operating. This way, we can keep the euros in the area to bring benefit to all residents of the area in the form of picking up of regional economy.
The objective of the Rural Cluster is to cut off the outflow of capital of rural Lapland by creating completely new business operations in the fields of food products and decentralised energy production alongside the traditional entrepreneurship activities. The operations of the Rural Cluster aim to improve the local growth of the value added of the rural raw materials in order to maintain an increasing amount of capital with the owners of raw materials.
All operations of the cluster are focused on the development of the selected business sectors. An operating method has been created for the cluster wherein the aim is to find solutions for the existing problems of entrepreneurs and to introduce new entrepreneurs to the sector. The tool for this is the knowledge development, which covers training, research and the counselling needed by entrepreneurs. We constantly need new research data and new able hands in order to make entrepreneurship profitable in Lapland.
The regional development tools serve as resources for the development of business operations and knowledge. With the help of different projects, for example, we can tackle the challenges faced by the development of entrepreneurs and knowledge, distribute information efficiently and influence our decision-makers. The operations of the different sub-areas of the Rural Cluster result in a business-driven cluster that is able to identify the bottlenecks in the business life development and resolve them with the help of an extensive cooperation network and, finally, stop the outflow of capital plaguing the rural areas as a joint effort.
The opportunities of cooperation for a company
The Arctic Smart Rural Community Cluster aims to demonstrate the business potential of the rural area and to prevent the outflow of rural capital. The purpose of the cluster is to bring together actors and to allow entrepreneurs to network and develop their business activities. The cluster coordinates both regional development and the development of know-how and entrepreneurship.
Juhan Lapin Puikula Oy is an example of a company that has started cooperating with Rural Advisory Services ProAgria Lapland, the University of Lapland and the Lapland University of Applied Sciences with the idea of product development. The cooperation began when Johannes Vallivaara, the CEO of ProAgria Lapland and the leader of the Arctic Smart Rural Community Cluster, was in contact with Juha Jankkila, the CEO of Juhan Lapin Puikula, and they decided to put their heads together.
– Lapin puikula is a potato type that has been cultivated for ages, but the professional cultivation began in 1985, says Jankkila. All Juhan Lapin Puikula products from are produced on Jankkila’s farm and under the company’s brand.
Cross-sectoral cooperation between different stakeholders has worked well. The Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland developed the packaging of the product and together with the University of Applied Sciences, designed and presented the story of the product. Further processing of the product is also planned, and will be announced later.
– I’ve been considering taking the product to international markets as well, in the future, Jankkila says.
Lapland Food House (Lapin elintarviketalo) is Lapland’s food industry’s communication website produced in the Digital Architecture Roadmap for Lapland’s Food Companies -project (Digiarkkitehtuurin tiekartta lappilaisille elintarvikealan yrityksille -hanke). The project was implemented by the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, the Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
The site provides up-to-date information to support food industry entrepreneurs. E.g. a deck of cards presents 20 different service providers that offer different kinds of services and support for entrepreneurs. The cards include services for developing know-how, regional development and internationalization in particular in the food, natural products and renewable energy sectors.
Watch the Arctic Smart Rural Cluster video (English subtitles available).