Arctic Hub sets out to build a bridge between research and society

The newly established international research hub in Nuuk aims to make arctic knowledge more accessible.

 

By Uffe Wilken, Polarfronten

 

The idea of establishing a hub in Greenland that can coordinate and facilitate international and local research has been under way for a few years. On November 1, 2020, the hub finally became a reality thanks to financial aid from the Government of Greenland and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in Copenhagen. PhD Anna-Sofie Skjervedal was hired as Head of Secretariat and tells us a bit about the hub and its visions for the coming years.

 

– What is the function and focus of the hub?

Our core function is to serve as the locally based platform for arctic research stakeholders. We’ll be the link between the local research environment and international research users, businesses, the civil service, educational institutions, and the local community. Our ambitions are very high since a wide range of stakeholders work in this field. The hub is still in its infancy, so we’ve had to figure out how to prioritize our efforts. But we’ve decided to begin by creating a better overview over current research being conducted in and around Greenland, and to share with others some of the important research currently under way. We believe that the most valuable knowledge is the knowledge that is passed on and activated. Furthermore, we also focus on creating cooperation within the Kingdom and to ease the process of conducting research across national borders.

 

– Why establish a research hub in Nuuk?

For years, Greenland has wished to get a better overview of the research that is being conducted in the country. At the same time, there’s a trend in research communities to focus more on how the knowledge created in a place can also be anchored to that very same place. If you fail to accomplish that, a lot of knowledge will be lost because it will be unavailable and unused.

The whole idea behind the Arctic Hub is to ensure that the valuable knowledge researchers produce does not get squandered. As most people have realized by now, we’re living in a time full of urgent calls for new solutions. And we believe that the research being conducted in and around Greenland holds many of the answers that we need. That’s why we regard it as our most important task to ensure that all this knowledge is made accessible.

– What are the short- and long-term goals of the hub?

Overall, we must ensure that Greenland and the rest of the Kingdom can put the knowledge that is being produced here in the Arctic to better use. And that the results can be distributed to and used in society. Right now, our work follows two paths: sharing knowledge and bridge-building. We’re faced with a major communication task in creating an overview. We’ll solve it by making sure that the research conducted in Greenland is made more visible and accessible to civil society – to everyone from students to entrepreneurs to the civil service. This fall, we’ll host events where we’ll equip local researchers with the skills they need to get better at communicating their research to the population at eye-level. We hope this will strengthen the link between research and the civil society.

 

When it comes to bridge-building, we must strive to become the facilitating unit that creates a close connection between the different stakeholders, for example, by combining research with education, research with industry, and research with authorities. This past September, we gathered the maritime industry with maritime researchers for a workshop where the two groups joined together to look into how research-based tools can be used for innovation, development and in a security perspective. The main idea behind this event was to create a space where people across disciplines could discuss how to make the best use of the available knowledge. It serves as an example of how we approach our role as a bridge-builder between research and society.

– What is your greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge facing the hub right now is that we can’t cover all our stakeholders’ needs and wishes. There are many, and they are diverse. We’re starting right here, and we’ll start building from here. With the great interest we see in the Arctic and Greenland, I don’t expect the tasks facing the hub to subside.

 

In our short lifespan – we haven’t even launched our website and social media yet – we’ve already seen an overwhelming amount of interest. We receive daily inquiries from people in South Korea, Australia, England, and the US who are curious about the Arctic and want to connect with us. We see clear needs and believe that the Arctic Hub can meet those needs through bridge-building and communication.

This article is part of a theme issue of Polarfronten about Arctic Hub. The issue has been made as a collaboration between Arctic Hub and Polarfronten.

About Arctic Hub

Arctic Hub is financed by both Denmark (3.1 million DKK per year) and Greenland (0.75 million DKK per year) through the Danish Finance Act.

The Board of Directors of Arctic Hub
Ulrik S. Korsholm Chairman of the board, Executive, DMI (Danish Meteorological Institute)
Karsten Peter Jensen Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Education, Culture, Sports and Church
Lise-Lotte Terp CEO, Arctic Consensus
Inoqut Kristensen Investment adviser og analyst, Greenland Venture
Frej Sorento Dichmann Deputy Head of Division, Ministry of Higher Education and Science
Inge Høst Seiding Head of institute, Institute of Culture, Language & History at Ilisimatusarfik
Torben Røjle Christensen Scientific leader, Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring and Zackenberg Research Station E-mail: torben.christensen@bios.au.dk
Astrid Maria Spring Öberg Consultant - Grønlands Erhverv