Arctic Smart Rural Community
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.
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.