NPA 2020 Annual Event - Innovation for smart and resilient communities

Date Location Organiser
23 Sep 2020 Online + Oulu, Finland Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

With a completely new format, this year's annual conference will explore different regional innovation systems and how they contribute to greener and smarter solutions for more resilient communities in the Northern Periphery and Arctic regions.

The 2020 annual event will be held on 23rd September 2020, from 12:00 until 17:00 Copenhagen time (test signal from 11:30), virtually from the city of Oulu Finland. The format of the event will be entirely online due to the restrictions in place in most European countries in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Registrations are closed.

Download the Programme.


Taking stock of 7 years of cooperation in innovation

NPA regions are characterized by the presence of innovative clusters and good private-public-research cooperation experiences, with universities strongly integrated in the regional innovation system. In addition, some regions have a specific Arctic expertise in connection to cold climate and threats coming from climate change . Over the past 7 years, the NPA programme has supported nearly 60 projects of which 8 dedicated to “increasing innovation and transfer of new technology to SMEs”. This conference will be an occasion to showcase the Programme’s achievements in this topic, with a particular focus on the theme of innovation transfer for smarter and greener communities.


Leading by example: Oulu and the NPA projects

The conference will explore the successful experiences of Oulu; see first hand why Oulu has claimed the third place in Europe for venture capital per capita invested in local companies. Stories from the NPA projects will add a transnational perspective, demonstrating how cooperation reinforces the regional innovation potential by creating networks that increase and expand access to an international pool of knowledge and expertise.

Invited speakers: Dr Arto Maaninen, Vice-Rector for Cooperation at the University of Oulu; Prof Matti Muhos,  Director Kerttu Saalasti Institute; Mr Juha Ala-Mursula, Director Business Oulu and Oulu Innovation Alliance OIA; Dr Margaret Quinn, NPA project EMERGREEN; Dr Egidija Rainosalo, NPA project SYMBIOMA.


Towards smart, green and resilient communities

Ultimately, innovation contributes to building greener and stronger communities, making them less vulnerable to economic fluctuations or natural hazards, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference will also provide an opportunity to exchange lessons learned from the past that can be useful in response to this pandemic; especially in remote and rural areas.

Looking ahead to the NPA 2021-2027, progress towards the new programme will be also presented at the conference.

Invited speakers: Kirsti Mijnhijmer, Head of Secretariat of the NPA; Dr Anna Lundgren, Nordregio.


  1. Towards resilient communities: how can communities become more aware and better prepared to react to shocks such as those coming from climate change, economic or health crisis? Lessons from the NOKIA case and the current COVID-19 health crisis.

    Chair: Prof  Joan Condell, Ulster University
    Speakers: Prof Ragnheiður I Þórarinsdóttir, The Agricultural Universit of Iceland, NPA project COAST; Prof. Peter Sköld, Executive director, Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University;

  2. Smart specialisation strategies: implementing smart specialisation across the NPA, from the Atlantic to the Arctic.
    Chair: Ms Lesley Gray, Desk Officer for the Nordics, Scottish Government
    Speakers: Mr David Minton, Director, Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Ireland; Mr. Ilari Havukainen, Project Manager, East and North Finland in Industrial Transition, Regional Council of Lapland, Finland.

  3. Innovation in the bio-based industry: NPA projects innovating in the use of biological resources, the cases of sea weed, barley and…food wastes. What kind of innovation is desirable to increase business opportunities in the bio-based industry? What are the path/avenues to pursue for increasing sustainable business ideas based on natural resources? What are the trends or where are potential markets opportunities for the NPA?

    Chair: Mr Rob Clarke, Head of Policy, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
    Speakers: Mr Andrew MacKenzie, Lewis Castle College, UHI, NPA project SW-GROW; Dr Peter Martin, Director, Agronomy Institute, Orkney College UHI, NPA project CEREAL; Ms Berta Danielsdottir (DISRUPTAQUA) CEO, Iceland Ocean Cluster, Iceland.

  4. A greener NPA: what can transnational cooperation do for a greener NPA? Where can NPA projects impact the most and how? 

    Chair: Ms Linda Stewart, Director of European and International Development, University of the Highlands and Islands
    Speakers: Mr Nicholas Gubbins, Chief Executive, Community Energy Scotland; Ms Marta Rongved Dixon, (NPA project ASCENT) Senior adviser tourism, Section for natural resources, agriculture and tourism, Vestland County Council, Norway; Dr Neil James, (NPA Projects CIRCULAR OCEAN and BLUE CIRCULAR ECONOMY) Researh Fellow, Environmental Research Institute, UHI Scotland.


Practical information

The event will take place online from 11:30 until 17:00 CEST. The NPA Annual Conference will be broadcast live on the Interreg NPA YouTube channel.

Questions to the speakers can be posted on Facebook and Twitter using the event hashtag #NPA2020Oulu, or sent via email to secretariat{at} Please use the event hashtag in the email subject in order to allow the moderator to spot your question faster.

The breakout sessions will take place on Zoom, a link will be sent once registered. Registration is required if you intend to participate to any breakout session, these sessions will not go live on YouTube.

 Follow the hashtag: #NPA2020Oulu