On the first week of October 2019 Inno4Sports partners gathered in Lapland for the third Interregional Exchange event and Knowledge Capitalisation Seminar.
On the first week of October 2019 Inno4Sports partners gathered in Lapland for the third Interregional Exchange event and Knowledge Capitalisation Seminar. The theme for this time was the role and functioning of governance systems, and how to make relevant policy instruments and programmes to better support the needs and challenges of the Sports sector. In order to get the best view of Lapland’s sport activities, which are strongly based on nature and tourism, the first two days of the meeting were held in Pyhä Ski Resort. The third day of the meeting contained study visits in Rovaniemi.
Arctic Sport Network
The first day focused on contextual understanding of Lapland’s sport ecosystem. Partners in Lapland are in process of building the Arctic Sport Network, which brings together actors from public administration, educational organisations, businesses and civil sector. Arctic Sport promotes the objectives based on Lapland Sport Strategy, regional strategy and smart specialisation. Lapland’s sport ecosystem is strongly based on tourism activities and nature sports, and there is strong expertise especially in winter sports and maintaining snow facilities. However, traditional sports should not be overlooked since Lapland’s largest sport club is a football club and the other 350 sports clubs represent variety of sports.
The participants found the Arctic Sport Network model interesting, however the question is, how replicable is the model in other regions? Lapland’s small size and organisational structure makes quadruple helix cooperation easy, but it needs more research to implement similar model in other regions.
Sustainability and co-creation in developing sports tourism
The two days in Pyhä had a strong focus on sports tourism, and the participants found most useful the sustainability aspects of sport. In Pyhä we heard two presentations from local businesses, one from Jusu Toivonen, the manager of Pyhätunturi Ski Resort and one from Artturi Kröger the co-founder of Bliss Adventure. Sustainable development is in the core of the activities for both businesses, especially when doing business next to Pyhä-Luosto National Park. For example, Pyhä Ski Resort has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% since 2000 and become carbon neutral by compensating their emissions. In addition the other three aspects of sustainability were taken into account in all doing: respecting the local culture and livelihoods, employing local people and paying taxes to local municipality Pelkosenniemi are few of the choices behind the business activities.
Pelkosenniemi municipality is the smallest one in Lapland with less than 1000 inhabitants. There is strong collaboration and co-creation activities between the local actors. For example, Bliss Adventure was the first business to offer mountain bike tours inside the national park after being granted a permission from Metsähallitus, the organisation managing the national parks. Later, mountain biking routes have been opened making the park open for other cyclists as well.
Local ERDF-funds and investment supports have helped the businesses to develop their activities and infrastructure. Pyhä Ski Resort is also taking part in Horizon 2020 project Blue-Action through its sister company Ruka Ski Resort.
Education and research organisations supporting sport expertise
Heikki Hannola introduced Lapland University of Applied Sciences, one of five organisations in Finland providing higher education in sports and therefore an important player in sports development. An important part of education is the Dual Career model, which helps athletes to combine training and studies. In addition to education, Lapland UAS has a role in regional development and it collaborates with local businesses in research, development and innovation activities. Another organisation, University of Lapland, also provides expertise to local actors. Samuel Ahola, project manager from Faculty of Arts and Design, introduced us to service design and its possibilities in developing sport services.
The third day of the meeting was held in Rovaniemi where we had the chance to visit Santasport Lapland Sports Academy and to hear an introduction to. The sports academy combines educational organisations in the region and gives training services for local athletes, residents and visitors coming from all over the world. In Rovaniemi we also heard about the sport actions of City of Rovaniemi, which is developing Ounasvaara area for the use of local residents, professional athletes and tourists. City of Kemi has developed a model, where schools hire personal trainers to motivate pupils to expercise. The visit ended in Lappset Ltd, one of Lapland’s most known businesses. Lappset sells equipment for playgrounds, parks and outdoor gyms worldwide.
First steps taken for the action plans
The meeting also included sharing of By the end of November 2020 the project partners are expected to provide an action plan for improving regional activities to support business activities in sport. We were happy to find out that all partners have started the formation of action plans together with local stakeholders and the that they have learnt good practises from other partner regions to be implemented in their own region. Managing Authorities of regional development programmes were also invited to the event to bring their views how Inno4Sports could influence the programmes.
There is still a need to elaborate how to include sport in the regional development priorities in order to release its full potential? The formation of action plans will continue and the first drafts of action plans are to be presented in the next meeting in Lodz.
Strengthening the group spirit
In addition to the seminars, the participants had the possibility to have first hand experience of Lapland’s nature sports and sports tourism. We spent one afternoon trekking in the Pyhä-Luosto national park and learning about its recreational possibilities. The most adventurous participants also spent a night outdoors. The recreational activities were guided by students from Lapland University of Applied Sciences, who also arranged morning exercises to get participants awake and energised. The more informal activities were a chance to get to know other partners better, which will surely make collaboration easier in the future.
The project will continue with Staff Exchange Weeks, which will also support making of the action plans. The next project meeting will be held in Lodz on April 2020.