Ashlee-Ann Pigford, Gordon Hickey & Laurens Klerkx

Over the past decade, the Canadian Arctic has seen an intensification of scientific research designed to foster innovation (i.e., the process of transforming ideas into new products, services, practices or policies). However, innovation remains generally low. This paper argues that before we can meaningfully promote innovation in the Arctic, there is a need to first identify the complex systems that support or inhibit innovation. Few, if any studies have taken a systems approach to enrich our understanding of how existing networks may or may not support innovation in the Canadian Arctic. A promising, but under-explored approach is to consider innovation ecosystems, defined as the multi-level, multi-modal, multi-nodal and multi-agent system of systems that shape the way that societies generate, exchange, and use knowledge. This paper presents innovation (eco)systems as a potentially valuable systems-based approach for policy actors to enhance innovation linkages in the Arctic. From a policy perspective, there is a need to embrace and promote more networked approaches to co-create public value and to consider the lifespan of any innovation. Potential directions for future research include: mapping the actors involved in Arctic innovation ecosystems (including intermediaries and bridging agents) at multiple scales; the role that formal and informal institutions play in shaping co-innovation; case studies to evaluate innovation processes; and an assessment of the coupled functional-structural aspects that influence innovation outcomes in the Canadian Arctic.

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Salma O. Zbeed & Andrey N. Petrov

In the last few years, Alaska’s economy suffered as world oil prices plunged to very low levels and production declined. Modern economic development theories would suggest searching for alternative ways to manage northern regions. Investment in the knowledge-based economy seems to be one of the possible options. In Alaska, there have been very few studies of its knowledge economy. The key feature of a knowledge economy is a greater reliance on human capital than on natural resources, combined with efforts to integrate innovations in every stage of the production process. Patents are considered a good representation of innovative activity. We provide evidence drawn from patent data to document geography and dynamics in Alaska’s knowledge production over thirty-five years (1976-2010). The results show that Alaska has considerable patent activity, especially in certain oil-sector-related industries, and strong clustering of innovation in major urban regions (Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs). Alaska inventors, however, tend to be independent individuals (“lone eagles”), even though corporate innovation activity has been growing. In addition, small Alaska communities sometime demonstrate high levels of knowledge production in a few niche industries, articulating the importance of individual-driven and niche-based innovation in remote regions. Overall, between 1976 and 2010 Alaska’s regional innovation system evolved from a small isolated system dominated by individual inventors focused on innovation in old, low-technology sectors to a relatively diversified (although still over-reliant on the oil sector) intra- and internationally connected system with a considerable presence of company-driven innovation, but with a strong position of individual inventors, including those from smaller communities.

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Robert P. Wheelersburg & Sean Melvin

The Arctic has been a region long characterized by knowledge transfer between northern residents and people from southern states. Over the past few decades, the transfer of Arctic traditional knowledge (“TK” here including Indigenous knowledge) has accelerated at a fast pace due to research, the exploration and exploitation of resources, and movement of peoples in and out of the region. In some cases, TK has been lifted wholesale without consideration in an asymmetrical relationship. Southern residents have their intellectual property rights (IPY) protected by national and global level laws and agreements. Conversely, due to its nature as a communal property held and passed down through the generations at the societal level, TK from Arctic Indigenous peoples is not as well protected. This paper summarizes some national and global level IPY protections such as patents that could be applied to Indigenous TK. In addition, recent efforts by Saami and Inuit at the national and global levels, respectively, are reviewed. The authors recommend that Indigenous groups use their status as permeant participants on the Arctic Council to create and implement TK IPR that is appropriate to the nature of Indigenous societies and yet provides a sufficient level of protection for future generations. Such protection is important as the impacts of the melting ice cap will increase information transfer from the Arctic.

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Aisling Murtagh & Patrick Collins

Debates exist around the role of a specific type of human capital – creative capital – in regional economic development. Creative capital dynamics are most often analysed using statistics on workers in creative occupations, but beyond this creative capital is poorly understood, particularly in the peripheral context. In this article we explore the nature of creative capital among individuals in creative occupations based in two Nordic regions. In doing this we also aim to assess the contribution of creative capital and creative industries to regional development and innovation. Our aims also require a different methodological approach. Others that have analysed creative capital have used a series of statistical indicators as their primary metrics. Here we take a predominantly qualitative approach, assessing the experience of creative professionals across two Nordic regions. The primary research is based on semi-structured, qualitative research interviews in two regions -Lapland in Finland and Västernorrland in Sweden. For the purposes of understanding broader trends in the study regions, this data is also combined with statistics on creative occupations. We find that social capital is also vital in the generation of creative capital. Based on the nature of creative capital emerging here, it appears an important ingredient supporting regional development in Nordic regions. We also conclude by questioning if higher levels of creative capital can also contribute to the increased well-being of northern societies.

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Daria Akimenko, Melanie Sarantou & Satu Miettinen

Artists and makers who live and conduct their creative practices in the geographical margins tend to face social, economic, environmental and historical challenges conditioned by the location of such regions. The condition of relative isolation may impact on the quality of artistic processes and such subjective criteria as motivation, inspiration and self-reflection of the maker. When artist communities and individuals come together in collective making processes and share knowledge through narrative practices, it may enable connectivity that spreads beyond geographical limitations and contributes to knowledge transfer and dissemination. In this case study, artistic practices such as collaborative textile art and individual making processes are used to discuss life histories and personal positions towards living and working in the Arctic. Artistic practices serve as a means to discuss and share this positioning in narrative and visual formats.

This paper considers the processes and outcomes of two workshops that took place in the cities of Rovaniemi, Finland, and Murmansk, Russia, in December 2016 with local and international artists. The paper analyses the stories and narratives shared by the artists in relation to their making processes and respective contexts. These narratives reveal how the qualities of life and work environments impact on art practices and identity construction and how creating temporal contexts for collective making and sharing may contribute to knowledge dissemination and transfer from one remote community to another. Even though the margins may be objectively defined through quantifiable means, there are also subjective, personal ways of viewing margins or the absence thereof. The research discusses and provides examples of how the creation of collaborative and individual art pieces in the localities in question communicates personal reflections on the margin as a concept, and how the capturing of personal narratives promotes a better understanding of and between different contexts.

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Luis Suter, Carrie Schaffner, Carlson Giddings, Robert Orttung & Dmitry Streletskiy

This article describes the preliminary results of an effort to produce an Arctic Urban Sustainability Index that will have applications for researchers and policymakers. The project aims to help policymakers define and implement sustainability policies by measuring progress towards sustainability, compare across cities, and trace development over time. Existing studies within the region provide little analysis specifically addressing urban development. This study, under the auspices of the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project, aims to fill this gap in Arctic research by promoting urban sustainability, with a focus on optimal city planning and management to ensure the interests of future generations. Collecting the data to prepare the Index has proven challenging across a number of dimensions and efforts to address those challenges are discussed. While the Index described here remains a work in progress, we believe the process of thinking through issues related to measuring sustainability systematically will ultimately deliver useful results for researchers and policymakers.

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