Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster - The forerunner in the sustainable utilisation of natural resources

Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster  is an interregional cluster focusing on the sustainable utilisation of the arctic natural resources. The cluster is focusing on the development of the ecosystem for the SMEs providing industrial services for utilisation of by-products and residues of steel, forest, energy, mining and wood product industries. The cluster is combination of over 100 SMEs, LSEs, development organisations, universities and research institutions. The cluster is led by Digipolis –Technology Park.

Kemi-Tornio is the world’s northernmost concentration of bio, metal, mining and energy industries. The innovation area of Kemi-Tornio is unique in its size, since all the companies operating in the area are located within a diameter of 25 km.

The Kemi–Tornio region with a total population of 60,000 people, represents only about 1% of the total population of Finland. The Kemi-Tornio process industry, however, is an important cornerstone of the Finnish economy. The region represents an industrial system with a large number of mines and metal producers, pulp and paper mills, cardboard factories and also fertilizer and fine chemicals producers.

Kemi-Tornio circular economy platform

The region has a long tradition of utilising the circular economy. Arctic Industry and Circular Economy Cluster connects process- and mining industry companies, SMEs serving industry, universities, research institutions, funding and regional authorities to a same co-operation network. Common goal for Lapland is to be a forerunner in sustainable utilisation of natural resources and sustainable industry and circular economy activities. The work in progress for sustainable industrial refining has been notified on national, Nordic and EU levels. Systematic cluster development started in 2014, when Lapland was chosen as one of the model regions of European cluster initiative with six other regions. Lapland has been able to innovatively benefit from natural strengths of the region for cluster development.

By 2020, the Industrial circular economy in the Kemi-Tornio region has become an international showcase with innovative solutions to develop eco-innovation parks.  The industrial symbiosis at the Kemi Tornio region is one of the forerunners in the Finnish circular economy.

The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra started cooperation with Digipolis company in Kemi in 2016 to promote education and know-how of industrial circular economy in national scale. Sitra named spreading of good practices, largely based on the experience by the Kemi-Tornio Industrial Circular Economy Innovation Platform as one of the key projects of the Finnish circular economy road map development.

Sitra and Digipolis started a joint project where the Centre for Industrial Circular Economy was established in 2017. The project focuses on describing the model for industrial symbiosis on an operative level to national and international actors, with a strong emphasis on cooperation with other eco-innovation parks in Finland and internationally. The founding members of the Centre were Digipolis, the City of Kemi and the Lapland University of Applied Sciences.

The Centre assists companies to develop their business and products in circular economy e.g. by providing specialist guidance, applying for financing, bringing together businesses and creating networks and consortiums, and assisting in creating pilots and scaling up operations. The Steering Group of The Centre includes a broad-based group or experts ranging from big industry to public sector authorities. An essential part of the activities of the Centre for Circular Economy is coordination of the network of Eco-Industrial Parks in Finland.

Kemi-Tornio industrial circular economy: Key achievements 2016-2020

  • New industry pilots of industrial circular economy
  • More than 200 key stakeholders reached by eco-innovation park network
  • New operating model 2.0 of eco-innovation parks
  • Major development in industrial circular economy education
  • High international visibility (including e.g. significant role in Sitra’s World Circular Economy Forums in Helsinki 2019 and Yokohama, Japan, in 2018)

Key success factors​

  • long-term tradition of industry cooperation with the CE principles
  • systematic development work of Digipolis
  • the role of Sitra
  • high ambition level to become internationally leading actor   
  • broad-based private-public setting, including steering group
  • industry in focus –  concrete pilots
  • Nordic cooperation playing an important role!

For more information

Tuomas Pussila
Programme Manager
+358 50 461 1236