New podcast series about Northern Norway and the Arctic Race of Norway
July 22 nd 2021 - 07:00
In a new podcast series by Arctic Race of Norway and Innovation Norway, several key people discuss the future possibilities for Northern Norway. In addition, we hear more about how the idea of a professional bike race in northern Norway came about, and a look back at highlights from previous races.
A sporting success
The former top cyclist and current Tour de France expert for TV2, Mads Kaggestad, leads three episodes where he puts the spotlight on the actual bike race, people's lives and all the stories from the participants. World Champion Thor Hushovd was involved in the work of establishing the Arctic Race of Norway from 2011 and won the first edition in 2013. He especially remembers the magical atmosphere from the first edition.
“I remember the pride I felt when I saw all the people who had turned up at the team presentation to welcome the riders in Bodø. It emphasized that the whole Northern Norway wanted to contribute to making this huge”, says Hushovd.
Another great cycling profile, Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert, participated in 2016. He believes there are several reasons why the Arctic Race of Norway has been a success.
“The race is well organized, and there are beautiful surroundings. I remember that all the riders returned with big smiles, and the following year the team selection was even harder”, says Gilbert to Kaggestad, Dybdal and Hushovd.
From the very beginning, the Arctic Race of Norway has had an ambition to be more than a bicycle race. Director of Innovation Norway Arctic, Linda Beate Randal, praises the Arctic Race of Norway for gathering various voices to discuss opportunities for developing a sustainable future for Northern Norway.
“You make us sit down and talk to each other, and that is in many ways where it begins. The UN's sustainability goals are the greatest business opportunities of our time, and if we manage to work together, we will go a long way.”
In the podcasts, business leaders, media leaders and researchers discuss, among other things, business opportunities, cooperation, and lines of conflict within the region.
“There is no doubt that we have all the opportunities in the world in the region, but we must become better at working together. Contributing to this was one of the goals behind starting the Arctic Race of Norway”, says Knut-Eirik Dybdal, CEO of Arctic Race of Norway.
He highlights the choice to collaborate with the world's best cycling races organizer as one of the success factors for the Arctic Race of Norway.
“Through the collaboration with ASO, which organizes the Tour de France, we have gained access to a very valuable competence. When an international top cyclist like Philippe Gilbert draws out his impressions from the Arctic Race of Norway, the surroundings and people's lives are of course important. But just as important is the quality of the event itself, the safety of the riders, and that the race is well planned”, says Dybdal.
Must endure debate
Conflict lines, cooperation and the building of a common Northern Norwegian affiliation are discussed by several Northern Norwegian media leaders in the podcast episode about the role of the media. Despite a sometime tough exchange of words, there was agreement in the panel that one must not be afraid of debate, even in heated issues with different interests in the region.
“We have a North-Norwegian audience, and we should not be afraid that there is a debate going on. There are disagreements between, for example, Bodø and Tromsø on a number of topics and it is healthy that it is discussed”, says Political Editor Skjalg Fjellheim in Nordlys.
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has submitted a report about the High North to the Norwegian Parliament. The report proposes several measures to develop Northern Norway, which she describes as an extremely rich and creative region.
“There are enormous opportunities, both exploited and unexploited in Northern Norway. One of the most important things we can do is to develop new jobs in the private sector, and we will, among other things, establish an investment fund that will contribute to this”, she says in the conversation with Dybdal and Fjellheim.
Sparebank 1 Nord-Norge takes the pulse of Northern Norway through their Business Survey. In the episode about the knowledge base, Bank Manager for Business, Mona Slåtto Olsen, says there are several positive development features.
“In the last 10-12 years before the pandemic struck, northern Norway has had higher value creation than the rest of the country. The region is also not hit by the pandemic as hard as the rest of the country”, says Slåtto Olsen.
Merethe Nygård Kristiansen, CEO of Akvaplan-niva, was a member of a committee set up by the government to study the importance of private business for vibrant and sustainable local communities. She underlines one major challenge.
“Northern Norway needs more people, and especially people with the right skills”, says Nygård Kristiansen.
Lots of possibilities
The episode about the business community's opportunities focuses, among other things, on the need to highlight the fact that Northern Norway is participating in an international competition for investments and jobs. A good example is the establishment of a new battery factory in Rana that will lead to 2,000 new jobs.
“We will succeed in recruiting employees not only locally, but also from the south and from abroad. I think we need to become better at increasing our ambitions. We can learn from Arctic Race of Norway. When they started up, they entered partnerships with those who are the best at cycling in the whole world”, says Ole Kolstad, director of Rana Utvikling.
The importance of working together and exploiting synergies of cluster collaboration between geographical areas and different industries is emphasized by Equinor, Telenor and Innovation Norway in the podcast. Coverage director Bjørn Amundsen in Telenor says they listen to the needs of various businesses when they make investment decisions in northern Norway.
“The Arctic Race of Norway has led us to invest tens of millions of NOK in improving the coverage along the trails. These are lasting values for Northern Norway”, says Amundsen.
With only nine percent of Norway's population and many local companies with a relatively small size in relation to the national industrial companies, Dybdal urged everyone to become even better at working together, finding synergies and work in teams. He got an immediate response from Equinor.
“We have established a cluster collaboration called Energy in the North, where we have over 25 companies, universities, and research institutes. Here we look at the possibilities for green energy in a value chain. It is a collaboration where we do not know today where we will end up in the end, but we are in the process of thinking together about different topics and thinking of Northern Norway together”, says Toril Inga Røe Utvik, head of the High North department at Equinor.