New award opportunity for start-up companies in the Arctic | Polarjournal
Economic development in the Arctic is also evident in Greenland’s capital Nuuk, not least thanks to new innovative ideas from start-up companies. However, such companies need financial support. Image: Falck, Wikicommons CC BY-SA 3.0

Business development environments in Arctic regions are not easy, especially for young entrepreneurs. While there are often good ideas for a business, financial support for such start-ups is lacking. The Belgian International Polar Foundation, together with the Trân Family Foundation, would like to change this and award a project or person with financial support.

The two foundations plan to present the Laurence Trân Arctic Future Award again this year and are calling on young entrepreneurs and companies in all Scandinavian countries beyond the Arctic Circle, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Alaska to submit and present their project ideas. The prize is dedicated in memory of Laurence Trân Van Thinh, the late daughter of the French EU ambassador Paul Trân Van Thinh, and is endowed with 7,500 euros. It will be awarded to the winning project at the “Arctic Futures Symposium” organized by the International Polar Foundation in Brussels at the end of November. More information on how to register is available at the end of this article via a link to the Arctic Futures website.

Last year, the prize was awarded for the first time. Back then, the winning project came from Containing Green SE in Luleå, Sweden, which has developed a new and efficient method for growing vegetables and herbs in Arctic regions, thus contributing to increasing food security. Image: Arctic Futures

The submitted projects will be evaluated by a jury consisting of various experts and must meet a number of selection criteria. The selection committee is headed by Mads Frederiksen, Executive Director of the Arctic Economic Council. He believes that Arctic regions need young entrepreneurs to shape a more sustainable future there. “We need more role models to inspire other entrepreneurs in a region where mainly larger industries dominate,” Frederiksen explains. “The Arctic is not only at the top of the world, it is also top of minds for many policymakers, so now it is even more important to foster and showcase sustainable innovation in the North.” The Trân Family Foundation, which sponsors the award, also shares Mads Frederiksen’s assessment. “We’re proud to help the next generation of innovators develop business ideas that will bring added value to the Arctic communities where they operate,” says foundation representative Paul Trân Van Thinh.

The award winner is given the opportunity to present the project to a large audience at the symposium and thus expand their business network in addition to receiving financial support. Last year, the Swedish start-up Containing Green SE from Luleå was able to convince the jury of experts with its project. The company is focusing on the sustainable growing of vegetables and herbs, using waste heat from data centers and other industrial facilities to create indoor gardens using a new type of farming process. In doing so, they are providing an important contribution to the sustainable self-sufficiency of Arctic communities. The award has been a great support for the team, says Andreas Eklund, spokesman for the company. “As a direct outcome of the contribution, it has encouraged us and provided the means to expand our production to a larger scale. The expansion will allow us to further explore waste heat cultivation techniques as a core foundation of our company and allow us to produce five times more locally-grown vegetables and herbs compared to our previous capacity.”

The projects submitted should be sustainable, innovative and, above all, local. Last year’s winner, Containing Green SE, met all five of the selection committee’s criteria. Image: Containing Green SE

The selection criteria mentioned above, which distinguish the winning project, are based on the principles of sustainability, innovation and regionality. The project should help to support the local community in which it is located (operationally and/or geographically) in terms of sustainability and self-sufficiency, but also innovation. These principles have now become central to other awards as well, as many experts see them as the key to success in the Arctic. Therefore, such projects are to be promoted more strongly. “We need more young entrepreneurs in the Arctic, and this award supports that goal,” said Mads Frederiksen. “Last year’s winner is a role model of what can be done when combining the Arctic’s natural resources with technology and adding talented young people who can execute an idea.”

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Link for more information at Arctic Futures

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