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Smart Specialisation in Sparsely Populated European Arctic Regions

This report explores applications of smart specialisation in sparsely populated European Arctic Regions. The paper provides an overview of the specific context of Arctic regions and examples of how smart specialisation has been implemented there with aim to discover how smart specialisation and concerted action can support addressing challenges such as remote location, lack of critical mass, lack of connectivity between actors, and dependence on few dominant industries.
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The purpose of this report is to explore how smart specialisation (S3) has been applied in Nordic sparsely populated regions, with focus on the European Arctic. The report gives an overview of the specific context of Arctic regions and of their specialisations, and reviews how smart specialisation has supported regions in addressing Arctic challenges. It also identifies the need for joint-action efforts and outlines good-practise cases where collaborative efforts have been made to tackle common challenges or to benefit from interregional opportunities.

Smart specialisation has found very relevant applications in European Arctic regions and implementation of smart specialisation policy tools is well advanced. In some cases, the Arctic regions are pioneering advanced, collaborative approaches and developing joint investment solutions applying an S3 approach. This report emphasises that already today there are very successful cases of local, cross-regional, and cross-border collaboration that succeed in turning the Arctic context into a competitive advantage, and many new innovations and projects continue to emerge. As is demonstrated in the case-studies, smart specialisation can serve very well in mobilising regional and local actors in the European Arctic. In sparsely populated areas, interregional cooperation plays an important role for critical mass formation. The important message of the cases presented in the report is that collaboration on joint opportunities is the only way to create sustainable and long-term smart specialisation solutions in the unique European Arctic context.