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North Norway goes West

In November 2019, California and Alaska received several relatively unaccustomed visitors: an AlaskaNor delegation from North Norway

2019-03-2816:46 Andreas Raspotnik

On Saturday, 16 November, a North Norwegian delegation embarked on a journey to explore potential commonalities between Alaska and North Norway in the broader field of blue economy, with the purpose to cultivate new business and entrepreneurial collaboration.

Through a series of curated events, organized in partnership with the Alaska Resource Development Council, the World Trade Center Anchorage, the Alaska World Affairs Council, and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce we had the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the Alaska economy and developing business opportunities;
  • Build relationships with Alaskan business leaders, international investors, and new potential partners;
  • Lean new strategies from financiers, and business accelerators.

But our week-long excursion did not directly bring us to Alaska but started in California, and its technological capital: San Francisco.

Organised by the Norwegian Consulate General, our AlaskaNor delegation spent a full day (18 November) in the broader Bay Area and met with leading companies and institutions in the blue economy sector. This included Google's Earth Engine department, Makani Technologies, the Nordic Innovation House, and the Bits & Watts Initiative @ Stanford University. Our Californian blue economy experienced was concluded with a panel discussion at the Norwegian General’s Residence that specifically focused on how to finance and raise funding for innovations in the blue economy. In that regard the AiiM Partners Fund and its aim to invests in companies that solve complex social and environmental issues could be of particular relevance for future collaborations between stakeholders in Alaska and North Norway.

Yet, one of our AlaskaNor partners - Kjell Stokvik - already travelled directly to Anchorage, Alaska from North Norway and presented on challenges concerning Arctic logistics and maritime transportation on Tuesday, 19 November at the Alaska Infrastructure Development Luncheon V, organised by the World Trade Center Anchorage.

The rest of the delegation headed to Anchorage the same day (yes it also takes almost a full day to travel from California to Alaska) and eventually gathered on Wednesday (20 November) at the 40th Annual Alaska Resources Conferences @ Dena'Ina Center in Anchorage, organised by the Resource Development Council for Alaska. Every year, the RDC brings together leaders across Alaska’s natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, fisheries, tourism, and timber. And this year, even a Norwegian delegation from Nordland and Troms. Find the conference's agenda, including videos and slides from all speakers here.

In the evening, we discussed potential investment opportunities in Alaska and North Norway during a panel debate organised by the Norwegian Honorary Consul for Alaska, Lise Falskow and the Alaska World Affairs Council. Together with Matt Ganley from the Bering Straits Native Corporation, Mead Treadwell, CEO of Qilak LNG and former Lt. Governor of Alaska, and Isacc Vanderburg of Launch Alaska, our project partner Anu Fredrikson highlighted the need of more investments for innovative development in and for the Arctic.

Our second day in Alaska - 21 November - kicked off with the first AlaskaNor Business Roundtable Discussion, held at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. We were joined by representatives various industries as well as from the Chamber itself, the World Trade Center Anchorage (WTCA), the State of Alaska and the University of Alaska, Anchorage. While Terje Stæbek presented on economic developments in Nordland, WTCA's Greg Wolff gave valuable insights on Alaska's economic situation and export markets.

After the discussion, we headed back to the RDC conference, where both Anu Fredrikson and Andreas Raspotnik presented their thoughts on pan-Arctic business development and ocean economies in Alaska and North Norway, respectively.

Interested in their presentations? You can watch them...

Yet, our day of talking AlaskaNor was not over. After the conference, Trine Jonassen was moderating our Editor's Talk: A Popular Outlook to AlaskaNOR’s Future. Here, Arne O. Holm and Andrew Jensen - Managing Editor of the Alaska Journal of Commerce - discussed the blue economy potential of our two Arctic regions from a journalists' perspective. You can also read upon Arne's thoughts in his AlaskaNor-dedicated editorial at High North News from 22 November 2019.

In the evening, we all got together at the Residence of Lise Falskow, met with the current Lt. Governor of Alaska, Kevin Meyer, and a large group of Alaskans to let the evening draw away and discuss future paths of collaboration.

Yet, before heading back to Norway we gathered at two more events on 22 November. First, at the AlaskaNor Innovation Breakfast with presentation by Karin Berentsen and Elena Zhurova, as well as Piper Foster Wilder from 60 Hertz - this year's High North Young Entrepreneur award winner - and Bradley Pizzimenti from Gennaker Systems. Second, we also organised an Academic Exchange between the High North Center for Business and Governance and research staff from the Institute of Social and Economic Research. The goal is to foster collaboration between Nord University and the University of Alaska, Anchorage, especially with regard to Nord's Business Index North project.

With most of our delegation getting ready to head back to North Norway after the Academic Exchange, one intensive blue week of knowledge gathering, networking and presenting was eventually over. It was a successful week, a week that needs to be repeated, a week that needs to see even more participants from North Norway to explore the market potential of Alaska and collaboration opportunity between our two Arctic regions.

And, almost forgot. Some of us also had some time for cultural education after an entire week on blue economy when visiting Anchorage Museum on Friday evening. But guess what, we met some Norwegians (again) - the artist collective NORDTING/The Northern Assembly.

Our North Norwegian Delegation consisted of:

  • High North Center: Frode Mellemvik, Trine Jonassen, Andreas Raspotnik and Elena Zhurova
  • Arct AS: Karin Berentsen
  • Arctic Economic Council: Anu Fredrikson
  • Bodø Municipality: Odd Henriksen and Stephan Andre Skjelvan
  • Center for High North Logistics: Kjell Stokvik
  • High North News: Arne O. Holm
  • Nordland County: Terje Gustavsen and Terje Stabæk
  • Ytterstad Fiskeriselskap: Marius Ytterstad

Interested in bringing Alaskans to North Norway in 2021?

Based on the feedback we received in Alaska, the AlaskaNor project aims to bring an Alaskan delegation to North Norway in March/April 2021 around the annual High North Dialogue held in Bodø. If interesting in joining (and co-financing) such an endavour in 2021 or wanting to know more about our first AlaskaNor Network Trip to California and Alaska, please reach out to Project Manager Andreas Raspotnik via andreas.raspotnik@nord.no

Trine Jonassen
Ian Laing and Andreas Raspotnik meeting at the 40th Annual Alaska Resources Conference
Elena Zhurova
Arne O. Holm and Andrew Jensen discussing the future relationship of Alaska and North Norway
Trine Jonassen
Andreas Raspotnik presenting on ocean economies in Alaska and North Norway at the 40th Annual Alaska Resources Conference
Trine Jonassen
Anu Fredrikson providing insights on Pan-Arctic business development
Trine Jonassen
Participants of the First AlaskaNor Network Trip visiting Google's Headquarter in Mountain View, California
Trine Jonassen
Discussing potential investment opportunities in Alaska and North Norway
Trine Jonassen
Frode Mellemvik (right), Director of the High North Center for Business and Governance, meeting the Lt. Governor of Alaska, Kevin Meyer
Trine Jonassen
AlaskaNor partners posing: Brian Holst (Juneau Economic Development Council), Ian Laing (Institute of the North) and Andreas Raspotnik (High North Center for Business and Governance)
Trine Jonassen
Elena Zhurova presenting the High North Center for Business and Governance
Trine Jonassen
Project partner Karin Berentsen (Arct AS) introducing the Arctic Regulatory Compliance Tool
Trine Jonassen
Working hard at the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto, California
Trine Jonassen
Frode Mellemvik (left) and Andreas Raspotnik (right) meeting with Liang Min Managing Director, Bits & Watts Initiative
Trine Jonassen
Karin Berentsen (left) and Stephan Andre Skjelvan (right) discussing the blue economy with Mead Treadwell
Trine Jonassen
Terje Stæbek highlighting Nordland's green and blue economic potential