Innovation in Circumpolar Regions: New Challenges for Smart Specialization



smart specialization, regional innovation, circumpolar, Arctic


The Northern Review 45 (2017): 11–32

Smart Specialization has emerged as a novel policy approach for stimulating regional innovation in the European Union. It advocates that regions should focus their innovation support on those activities where they possess a regional comparative advantage, in order to develop sufficient critical mass to be globally competitive. The approach is not without its critics, both conceptually and in its practical implementation. This article explores the extent to which a smart specialization approach might be appropriate in remote circumpolar regions, and what lessons the concept can itself learn from such regions. Drawing on examples from three regions—Arjeplog (Sweden), Svalbard (Norway), and the Yukon (Canada)—the article suggests that the smart specialization approach has much to offer but that the approach would be strengthened through incorporating the particularities of innovation in the Circumpolar North.

Author Biography

Adrian Healy, Cardiff University

Cardiff School of Geography and Planning






Innovation in the Circumpolar North