2/2015

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The northern dimension

Billions in business awaits in the Arctic region

Scandinavia is unique. How else could you describe a region which holds only a total of 25 million people but still is the 10th largest economical region in the world? And while we’re at it, there’s the Arctic region – a vast area of land from Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Russian arctic coastline to approximately 700 kilometres south, all the way to Finnish Ostrobothnia and Swedish Västerbotten. The total investments to the Arctic are approximately 140 billion euros by 2025.

“Each country has its own specific needs within the region, and this makes the whole thing economically so interesting.” Martti Hahl knows this; the head of the Rovaniemi-based Barents Centre studies the northern economics daily. The Swedes have one of the largest iron ore mines in the world in Kiruna, which are in need of green mining technologies and mining engineering. The state-owned mining company provides about a billion Euros of annual profit for the state.

Then there’s Norway. The European oil giants have gathered over 830 billion Euro in an oil industry fund since the late 1960s. “Their only problem is the lack of labour. For instance, they need around 15,000 engineers at the moment, with 2,500 openings in the north.” BusinessOulu’s Marketing Director Pauliina Pikkujämsä acknowledges the opportunity: “This is an excellent chance not just to sell Oulu-based know-how to Norway, but to assist Norwegian companies to establish themselves here.” But how important is this? I mean, we’re so far in the north? And how is it done?

Minerals and energy abound

The organised collaborative development of the Arctic region, including the Russian side and the Kola peninsula, started only some 25 years ago with a joint report regarding actions in the North to better succeed economically. This was followed in the 2000s with another report, which states 5 main objectives, including business drivers and areas of collaboration. “One example of such actions is the Arctic Airlink, which is absolutely vital for collaborative business in the western Arctic area”, explains Hahl. Without the possibility of flying crossways, a Cross-Scandinavian business trip means one extra day of travel per direction, no matter how you look at it. “With Arctic Airlink, we’ve really seeing a boost in business-to-business commerce and in generating new contacts in practically every segment, from tourism to industry development”, adds Pikkujämsä.

But it very much would seem to be worth the trek. “Norway has the oil, Sweden has the minerals in Kiruna. With Russia, it’s a longer game, but still worthwhile. Altogether, the nearby regions include 25% of all the energy and minerals in the world. The problem with Russia is the usual one: the infrastructure is poor and the funding is scarce. However, with long-term commitment into aiding the North Russian infrastructure and developing cleaner industry, the partners are looking into the future and the utilisation of vast amounts of the natural gas the region holds. “Let’s not forget: VTT’s research states 120 years of oil left, but 350 years of gas”, Hahl adds. With clean energy ratings on par with wind power and transportability of 1/600 reduction in size, liquefied natural gas is a serious contender in the energy game.

With a little help from our friends

But Norway is by no means the only region in need of special labor or technology. For instance, the whole Arctic region can act as a springboard for companies. “With IoT, we’re no longer talking about opportunities but everyday actions”, states Pikkujämsä. As the mining technologies advance and harsher environments can be accessed in non-manned extraction, sensor technology and mobile communications between devices become exceedingly important. In addition, Finnish research in subzero temperatures grows in importance. The Safety and Rescue research is already adapted by the Norwegians, and now companies are extending the SAR procedure from humans to devices and materials, which enables them to monitor gas and oil from extraction to final destination. “The companies from Oulu can test drive their business in the Arctic region, initiating sales in Sweden, then expanding in growth in Norway – it’s the perfect global growth stepladder”, explains Martti Hahl.

In the meantime, BusinessOulu continues to market the companies in the Oulu region. One of the biggest pushes is the Suomi-talo in Tromso, which acts as a connection point for all Finnish companies, boosting exports from Finland and collaboration between companies in North Finland and their Swedish and Norwegian contemporaries. “We proceed in concrete manner. One example is the 2016 Gällivare housing fair, which we’re co-organizing with Finnish small housing companies – it’s an excellent opportunity to showcase Finnish companies, solutions in energy and engineering”, says Pauliina Pikkujämsä.

Barentskeskus Finland Oy

The Barents Centre is a non-profit matchmaker, operating as a coordinator for Barents-focused companies in North Finland. The centre collects economical information and data for the companies to improve their business in the Scandinavian north.

Martti Hahl
Maakuntakatu 29-31 B, 2 krs, 96200 Rovaniemi
Telephone: +358 40 5057611
firstname.lastname@barentskeskus.fi

BusinessOulu

BusinessOulu supports companies in the Oulu region from starting the company to generating growth and creating international opportunities. Additionally, BusinessOulu provides services for companies who wish to relocate or invest in Oulu.