The aim and objectives of the project “RIT 2021” have emerged through the first RIT project which was carried out in 2015 to 2018.
The space actors in Upper Norrland has since many years 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. These actors were by tradition either clients or contractors in the collaborations that were carried out, and very few projects had until then (2015) been about joint R&D projects. In addition, there was no regional development strategy in place for the space industry, just a strategy connected to the activities in the space town of Kiruna.
Preliminary studies and a number of meetings with partners within Space Kiruna during 2014/2015 showed that the collaboration between the space actors, local SMEs and actors from other industries needed to increase in order to stimulate growth within the space business. It also showed that the regional innovation climate for space-related activities could develop, and that there was a great deal of interest and clear synergies linked to an increased level of collaboration.
The opinion at the time was that there should be parallel efforts to strengthen the regional innovation system and integrate it into the collaboration mentioned above. During the RIT project the actors of the space industry therefor focused on increasing their expertise within research and innovation collaboration between the academic sector, the business sector and actors within the innovation support system. Several activities were successfully initiated and are now in need of being further established.
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 new jobs in the European economy, and the business climate in Upper Norrland must therefore be reinforced. One important piece of the puzzle is innovative capacity.
The RIT project has showed that there is a great 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 had not already been done in a broader sense, despite space-related activities being conducted in the region since 1957, indicates that there is a need of special efforts to get things moving in the right direction. For this reason, Luleå University of Technology (LTU) made the decision in 2015 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 space industry. LTU Business, the business development company connected to LTU, was pointed out as a collaborative partner and manned RIT, and now RIT 2021, with the project manager.
Read more about the RIT project at this site (old.ritspace.com)