Promoting economic cooperation in the European Arctic
The Arctic Investment Platform (AIP) project promotes economic cooperation in the sparsely populated areas of the North (NSPA). NSPA consists of the seven regions of eastern and northern Finland, the four northernmost regions of Sweden and the three northernmost counties in Norway. Since January 2019, the Regional Council of Lapland has coordinated an Interreg Nord project in close collaboration with BusinessOulu, the region of Norrbotten, the region Västerbotten and Norinnova AS aims to further strengthen the administrative cooperation of NSPA.
The project will create a feasibility study, including an analysis of investment needs and potential in NSPA. In addition, a proposal for a funding model and support system to be implemented. If the study concludes that it will be possible to set up an investment platform, the project will also develop a roadmap, and present the necessary resources that need to to establish such a platform.
Improved Use of existing networks
The project was launched early this year with a workshop in Rovaniemi, where it was agreed that cooperation should focus on the investment needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMB) with growth potential. It was also agreed that future investment scase, which will be funded through the Arctic Investment platform, should be within digitalisation and Arctic natural resources.
A survey on the mapping of the needs and potential of the financial cooperation was sent to SMEs and financial institutions and investors in NSPA in June. The purpose of the survey is to obtain information on the investment needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, and on the other hand the expectations from financial institutions and investors provided the various financial instruments that exist.
The relevance of the European Arctic to the European Union has gained visibility in recent years. Meanwhile, the east and northern Finland together with the NSPA have taken concrete steps towards a more visible cooperation in Brussels. All this has contributed to the creation of great interest in the financial cooperation, both within the NSPA and beyond, including the highest level of the EUROPEAN Commission.
Close cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) was established already early in the project, which has ultimately led to a cooperation agreement in August 2019. According to the agreement EIB will provide its professional services to the project for the remainder of this year, free of charge, with the possibility to continue the contract in 2020 depending on the results of feasibility study. Already in the spring, the project has been able to harness the EIB expertise in the development of the surveys.
How will cooperation continue to evolve?
The aggregated results of the survey were sent to small and medium-sized enterprises and investors will be collected in early autumn. In connection with this, a survey of clusters, incubators and commercial gardens in NSPA will be conducted, with the aim of supplementing potential gaps or question marks in previous surveys.
A workshop aimed at financial experts to review the results of the survey, will be held in September. The regions will provide input for the preliminary results in October, through a steering meeting in Umeå and a more operational reference group meeting in Brussels.
The final report, compiled from the survey, feedback from regional representatives and experts, as well as interviews, will be completed by the end of November. Before the report is completed, the
The reference group could provide final feedback on the content and agree on a way forward in the year 2020, based on the results and the proposed roadmap.