Background 

The aim and objectives of the project have emerged through the EU project Innovation i Rymd- och Gruvstad (Innovation in a space and mining town), which was carried out in 2014. Preliminary studies and a number of meetings with partners within Space Kiruna have shown that the collaboration between these actors, local SMEs and actors from other industries is weak. It also showed that the regional innovation climate for space-related activities can develop, and that there is a great deal of interest and clear synergies linked to an increased level of collaboration.

The space actors in Upper Norrland have long been firmly established in the global space arena, and they are successful in the industry as well as the academic sector, excelling in areas spanning from natural sciences to high technology. The same actor can often be both a client and a contractor in the collaborations that are carried out, and few projects have been about joint development efforts. In addition there is no regional development strategy for the space industry. There should be parallel efforts to strengthen the regional innovation system and integrate it into the collaboration in question. The actors of the space industry need to increase their expertise within research and innovation collaboration between the academic sector, the business sector and actors within the innovation support system.

In a globally connected economy with increased competition, innovative development is expected to lead to increased sustainable growth, with new products and services, more viable companies and more job opportunities in Europe and Sweden as well as in Upper Norrland. Going forward, SMEs are expected to provide the majority of jobs in the European economy, and the business climate in Upper Norrland must therefore be reinforced, and one important piece of the puzzle is innovative capacity. There is potential within the space industry to broaden the regional entrepreneurship and connect this to existing space activities as well as to national and international clients. The fact that this has not already been done, despite space-related activities being conducted in the region since 1957, indicates that something is missing. For this reason, Luleå University of Technology has made the decision to broaden its role within the space sector in Kiruna by reinforcing its education and research initiatives, and by including a closer collaboration with the business sector. LTU Business therefor became an easy choice as collaborative partner in this project.

Kiruna is “Sweden’s space centre”, and the key to consolidating and developing this centre is collaboration focusing on cross-pollination through knowledge and technology dissemination between different parties/industries as well as increased expertise to strengthen the attractiveness and competitiveness of the region.

Situation and collaboration

The situation analysis that was conducted ahead of this project has been carried out over 2014 within the framework of the project Innovation i Rymd- och Gruvstad (Innovation in a space and mining town). Initially, information was gathered to harmonise the aim of the project with the development strategy of Space Kiruna, the regional development and innovation strategies (RUS and RIS), the national innovation strategy and the EU innovation programme Europa 2020. In addition, the following four preliminary studies, which have contributed to the project’s aims and objectives, have been conducted:

Please contact us in the project team if you have questions related to the background.