Regional Development, Community Resilience, Blue Economy, Reorientation/ Innovation/ Path Creation
3_Exploring synergies across sectors
We are interested in finding other researchers and institutions with interest in regional development in sparsely populated areas or communities with socioeconomic difficulties and demographic challenges. We want to explore new pathways for the fisheries sector and old industrial areas with a socioeconomic mono-dependency that are somewhat path dependent. The Westfjords of Iceland have been characterized and shaped by the fishing industry throughout the 20th century. During the past two decades however, some sort of reorientation has taken place with varying degrees of success. The Blue Bio-economy in tandem with aquaculture and innovation seems to be a promising new avenue towards some sort of smart specialization. After decades of economic and demographic struggle, the Westfjords have experienced socioeconomic progress recently and the population loss came to an end. Reasons for that are predominantly small-scale initiatives of which many have been initiated by local actors. In addition our University Centre (established in 2005) contributed to the innovative and educational level of the region. Some SMEs have made use of the local knowledge and fisheries and gradually shifted the focus from traditional extractive fisheries to research and development. Some local actors established innovation and start-up centers and reanimated abandoned industrial and commercial sites.
The University Centre of the Westfjords (UW) is is a small higher educational organization and the University Centre building is home to more than 50 people in research, teaching and services in various organizations and companies. UW operates two international master’s programs: Coastal Communities and Regional Development as well as Coastal and Marine Management. In addition we offer a flexible Master in Marine Innovation in co-operation with the Innovation Centre of Iceland and the University of Akureyri which aims to promote innovation in the Westfjords. The University Centre is a young and flexible organization and is a member of international partnerships, for instance through the University of the Arctic, and has participated in projects of the Nordic Council and the European Union. Employees strive to serve the educational and research needs of the Westfjords to the fullest and to provide students and researchers outside the region, who wish to connect with the small but fascinating research environment in the Westfjords, with an excellent service.