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Student collaboration creates value for rural areas

Published: 15 January 2016

Hundred students in economics at Luleå University of Technology have collaborated with Jokkmokk in order to develop the municipality.

– The students' task is to develop a business idea and a business plan in which they exploit the ongoing and planned development in the municipality of Jokkmokk, says Håkan Person who is responsible for the course.

The course has previously been carried out in cooperation with the municipalities of Kiruna, Pajala, Överkalix, Övertorneå, Boden, Haparanda, Luleå and Sorsele. And just like last year it is up to the students themselves to identify development areas they consider as important to focus on.

Sees great potential in the hospitality industry

Jokkmokk municipality covers both national parks and world heritage Laponia and can both offer the polar night and the midnight sun. The hospitality industry in the municipality has developed strongly in recent years. This is something that many of the 20 student groups have chosen to build on.

– The students have presented ideas about the hospitality industry that existing entrepreneurs could apply in order to create added value for the visitors, says Per-Olof Lindroth, CEO of Destination Jokkmokk.

– The students contribute with new perspectives and their hunger to apply their financial knowledge is shown in their presentations. It is great fun, says Linnea Sigurdson, market developer and communicator at Destination Jokkmokk.

Inspiration is the biggest win

Ulf Hägglund, CEO of Strukturum, sees an on-going collaboration with Luleå University of Technology as strategically important to be able to better help local companies develop their products and processes and to expand their market.

– This partnership provides us with a useful injection of ideas and we avoid home-blindness that can sometimes be an obstacle to development, says Ulf Hägglund and continues:

– I also think that it is easy to become overly detail-focused when companies should be started, for example, having to spend a lot of time solving financing. Obviously, it is also important, but successful and profitable ventures starts basically with smart ideas, visions and aspirations rather than calculations. The ideas create momentum.

– In a small community like Jokkmokk, we are after all not so many that continuously work with business and development issues. Chances are pretty high that the ideas are not enough or that the energy runs out. Therefore it is very important to get support from outside, for example, now the students, which can act as a catalyst and view opportunities from a different perspective. We need it, concludes Ulf Hägglund.