ASBIC ArcticCircle2018 webPhoto Caption: Panellists at the 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík, Iceland.

As access to Arctic regions increases, we have seen a concurrent increase in interests of small businesses and large industry of the potential opportunities to explore new opportunities or expand in the North. Scientific studies are often essential precursors to reduce risk associated with investments on the frontiers of new opportunities. Additionally, new technology developed for applications in the harsh, remote regions of the Arctic have enabled private enterprise to push profitable ventures far beyond what once appeared to be the limit of secure investments. In this way, science can facilitate business, but business can also facilitate science, whether through financing, data, or collaboration.

Panelists at the recent Arctic Circle Assembly discussed these topics at a session titled “The Cooperation of Arctic Science with Business and Industry.” They highlighted examples of how Arctic science has facilitated industry and how Arctic business has enabled Arctic science, and also identified both best practices and lessons-learned to model behaviors and to lay ground for future cooperation. 

  • To cooperate successfully, industry and academia need to respect each others‘ constraints and requirements with regard to publishing, intellectural property, and timelines. Collaborators need to build good chemistry between each other and be dedicated to the collaboration.
  • Foreign investment can drive forward scientific endeavors, but it is important that local partners think about reciprocity. What are the impacts on the short term AND the long term?
  • Extend this cooperation to academic, industry, and government. The place of climate change is overwhelming. All three need the capacities and insights of the other two.
  • Mentoring, and recognizing the importance of the youth in the future of the Arctic is key.
  • Shipping provides a great example of cooperation. Timesharing on icebreakers, for example, is set to expand with the ARICE project. This would be a great example of putting things into practice. Researchers had a lot of interest, but sometimes they just don‘t have the money.
  • Thinking about innovation and collaboration – will require innovation and grit to do it.
  • How can researchers help industry reduce the risk that is inherent in working in the Arctic? Cleaner technologies, operational datasets, communication technologies, and working on scenario-building to be able to think of possible futures and needs.
  • Why stay in academia rather than do research under industry umbrella? At early stages, it is high risk and academia helps keep options open for research directions. There is a mix in terms of resources and frameworks. We shouldn‘t imagine that research in universities is separate from teaching. The more integrated, the better training they are providing.
  • To transfer academic to industry – do you have to have the particular product first? That‘s why we have incubators. To be able to develop ideas, and use scientists to help answer questions especially of small companies who are asking questions. Clusters guide each other to the right collaborators, whether in industry or research.
  • What is the role of social sciences in this cooperation? Social science IS real science. When it comes to the Arctic, there are crucial issues in rural and Indigenous communties in particular, for example exposure to climate change risks more so that others. Also, governance issues are important to figure out, and that can also be the purview of social sciences. A holistic approach is important.
  • What can we do to enhance innovation in the Arctic? Communities are the ones who have an idea of what they need and want. Think about local community benefits for exploration. Think about current incentive structures. Create future leaders. It is about getting ROI and furthering the big issues.


Sincere thanks to our panelists for contributing their time and thoughts to our conversation:

  • Jeanette Hammer Andersen, Professor, UiT the Arctic University of Norway & Board Member, BioTech North
  • Stacy Ettinger, Partner, K&L Gates
  • John Holdren, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Co-Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, & Co-Director of the Arctic Innovation Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • Tero Vauraste, Chair, Arctic Economic Council & President and CEO, Arctia Group
  • Janet Weiss, President, Alaska, BP Exploration Alaska Inc
  • Moderator: Larry Hinzman, IASC President

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