The special situation for the timber industry in Västerbotten County with its dominant structure of micro-companies, often as the last outpost in the countryside, requires extraordinary efforts if the industry is not only to survive but also to expand, yet the timber industry in the county with its 2600 employees is in fact a basic industry on a level with the mining industry.
The timber industry in Norrbotten County has a somewhat different structure; with fewer manufacturing companies, but more manufacturers of small houses and house modules. The manufacturing industry has nevertheless, through a number of companies reported an interest in cooperation, and there are now already two network-established companies within SSC Skellefteå Snickericentral. Luleå University of Technology is also represented in both the counties. An increased cooperation between the companies in these counties will also promote ”within-region” supplier growth and benefit the development of the iron-ore fields.
To challenge the accelerating urbanisation by strengthening and developing entrepreneurialism in micro-companies, finding solutions for competence-development and generation-renewal, achieving a more academic climate, and creating conditions for innovative solutions and capital input are all key issues which have been raised not only in the region’s development strategy (RUS) but also in the timber industry’s strategic documents
An important precondition for realising the stated ambitions is the well developed electronic pathways in the region. This infrastructure facilitates distance learning at all levels with high quality and high efficiency, creating good conditions for e-commerce marketing and opening the way for efficiency improvement and cost-reduction through intradisciplinary solutions for calculation, sales, planning and preparation.
This programme is an attempt, through active cooperation between the timber industries in the region, Träbransch Norr AB, Luleå University of Technology, the Technical Research Institute of Sweden (SP), the Municipal Authorities in the region and the Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture Industries (TMF), to create a model for bringing the micro and small enterprises in the timber industries of Västerbotten and Norrbotten Counties into a visionary entrepreneurial activity with living business plans in a 5-7 year perspective. The work to realise this ambition is described in Swedish in the programme manifesto Utmana Urbaniseringen (Challenge urbanisation).
Challenge urbanisation combines three visionary steps towards vitalising and expanding the strong basic industry in the countryside:
Stage 1. The management groups in successful rural companies – the innovation project Challenge Urbanisation during the autumn of 2016
Stage 2. Competence development and maintenance – T2 Trä & Teknik College, an educational arena which will open its doors in the autumn of 2017
Stage 3. Academic research programme in small enterprises – SkeWood 2
A clear result is that, if Challenge Urbanisation succeeds, it can be applied in other industrial branches and other regions to increase the competitive strength of the basic industries’ small-scale actors.
Project leader Magnus Fredriksson LTU, assistant: Dick Sandberg LTU
Contact: Magnus Fredriksson LTU