20.04.2023 10:12:00

ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition Opens in Arkhangelsk

The first ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition opened on 14 April as part of the ‘ArcTech: Science and Technology for Arctic Development’ Research and Training Forum. The competition was organized by Vostokgosplan with the support of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rosatom State Corporation, the Arkhangelsk Region government, and Northern (Arctic) Federal University.

The ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition kicked off as part of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council. ArcTech aims to transform scientific and technological developments into digital and engineering solutions to create comfortable living conditions for people in the Arctic and ensure that companies can successfully operate in the region.

ArcTech is the first technology competition platform that brings together science and business to develop the Arctic.

The event opened with greetings from Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Alexey Chekunkov: “Developing science and technology is one of the priority areas of work in the Arctic. The Arctic challenges — the harsh climate, permafrost, and hard-to-reach territories — require the use of unconventional approaches and solutions, as well as bold innovative ideas. The Russian government devotes enormous attention to the scientific and technological development of the Arctic zone, and businesses implementing investment projects in the Far North have expressed demand for new technologies. A unique system of preferences has been created in the region. With the help of state support, scientific research is being conducted, and the new technologies are of great practical importance in terms of developing the Northern Sea Route, which not only makes it possible to provide hard-to-reach regions with everything they need, but is also becoming an international trade transport corridor that can compete with existing sea routes. Work to create comfortable living conditions for people in polar cities is based on scientific research and innovation. I am certain that the ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition, which is being held for the first time, will enable scientists, engineers, inventors, business, and the state to find the best solutions to practical problems associated with the development of the Far North, and attract even more talent to this promising area,” Chekunkov said.

Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Arctic Senior Officials Nikolay Korchunov welcomed the ArcTech participants on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We consider the launch of the ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition a result of our targeted work to use Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council to solve the tasks set by the Russian president in the updated strategy for the development of the Arctic zone. Above all, we are talking about identifying priority areas for scientific and technological development, building up fundamental and applied scientific research, and developing and introducing technologies that are critical for the exploration and development of the Arctic. Relying on our own solutions is what will ensure the sustainable development of the Arctic region. We view the ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition as a platform that integrates science, economic operators, and industrial companies in the interests of the sustainable development of the Arctic region. We believe it is important to attract partners from friendly countries with the necessary expertise in the science and technology to take part in the competition,” Korchunov said.

“The ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition is unique in that several major corporations — Rosatom State Corporation, Sovcomflot, NOVATEK, Medsi Group, and MMC Norilsk Nickel — will jointly offer the competition participants real technological tasks on which the speed and success of Arctic development depends. During ArcTech, three competitions will be held in parallel. ArcTech Data is a competition for product and IT teams that will use datasets to come up with an MVP of digital services to develop tourism, preserve the environment, and improve the quality of life for people in the Arctic. ArcTech Engineering is a competition for engineering teams that are capable of creating solutions for key technical problems facing corporations that work in the Arctic. ArcTech Science Pitch is a competition for scientific teams that study the Arctic and are ready to find ways to apply their scientific developments with the help of technology brokers and present them to potential investors during the final of the competition. We will move in several directions at once in an effort to find solutions to urgent technological problems and to accelerate the introduction of promising scientific and technical developments to improve people’s lives and step up business development in the Arctic,” Vostokgosplan Director Mikhail Kuznetsov said.

“Domestic science plays a leading role in the study of the Arctic,” said Igor Popov, representative of Rosatom State Corporation for the development of special projects (additive technologies). “Over the past 20 years, the number of publications by Russian scientists on this issue has increased almost tenfold. At the same time, more than half of scientific research primarily comes down to three themes: mining, the use of resources, and the study of the climatic conditions of the Far North (‘man-nature’). The ratio of fundamental to applied research is approximately 4:1 in favour of general theoretical ones.”

“However, the practical interests of developing the Arctic region are in a slightly different plane. The development of engineering technologies in the Arctic remains in the peripheral focus of scientific interests and is crucial to the effective development of the Arctic region, as well as the use of modern technology and means of production in the difficult conditions of the Far North,” Popov said.

“I ask the participants in the ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition to pay closer attention to the industrial scientific and technological transformation of the Arctic region and the agenda that is being shaped by industry, energy, and transport infrastructure. Such a synergistic approach would seemingly provide practical results from the introduction of innovative technologies and become a driver for the progressive development of the Far North’s potential,” Popov said in comments about the demand among corporations operating in the Arctic.

“Our scientists already have answers to some of the problematic questions voiced by the representative of Rosatom State Corporation,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, Industry, and Science of the Arkhangelsk Region Viktor Ikonnikov said. “Since 2021, the Department of Science and Innovation has been operating within the Ministry of Economic Development, Industry, and Science of the Arkhangelsk Region, which today is supporting 136 projects and pursuing the state policy in the scientific development of the Arctic. We receive support from the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic and pay the most serious attention to the funding of research and development. For example, whereas RUB 22.1 million were allocated for scientific research in 2020, this amount increased to RUB 351.7 million in 2022. The Digital Arctic project deserves special attention, as it aims to develop the interregional Arctic IT ecosystem in order to create digital skills among the population, train personnel, and implement digital economy technology projects. Federal budget funds of RUB 527 million were invested in the creation of an IT park, and now we are developing regional projects in three key areas: the digitalization of the economy in partnership with major industrial partners, the development of IT entrepreneurship, and IT training. Together with the Russian Arctic Scientific and Educational Centre, the Northern (Arctic) Federal University is implementing more than 57 projects. And, most importantly, we are only launching projects that have an industrial partner or the prospect of practical implementation. We already have innovative products that were born out of interaction between science and business,” Ikonnikov said.

Northern (Arctic) Federal University Research Department Chair Sergey Ryabchenko provided specific examples of innovative products that his university has developed. “Energy is a critical area for the region. Northern (Arctic) Federal University has created hybrid systems of wind-solar and diesel energy, which can provide energy to remote stations. In addition, the university has developed and patented a technological solution to increase the oil recovery of existing wells, which is being successfully employed by Gazpromneft and Zarubezhneft. The technology we have created to recover fuel at boiler houses enables us to reduce harmful emissions by 30%, while the technology we have developed to compensate for differential building settlements helps to build durable buildings on soils that freeze seasonally. In partnership with SeverAlmaz, we are developing cement additives that improve its performance properties. The university is actively developing reverse engineering, as part of which we are creating design documentation based on orders of enterprises, making a 3D model, and describing the composition from which certain foreign-made parts are made. We have already implemented more than 40 sets of such design documentation, thanks to which industrial partners can now produce mechanisms thar have become unserviceable here in the country without buying them abroad. Together with the company Prometey, we have managed to create powder materials that enable us to print the necessary components for shipbuilding using additive technologies. We have a lot of ideas, opportunities for their implementation, and methods for their support as well. I propose that we use the ArcTech competition to put scientific ideas into practice,” Ryabchenko said.

Rosatom, Sovcomflot, NOVATEK, and Medsi Group presented technological tasks for the competition participants as part of the business programme of the ‘ArcTech: Science and Technology for Arctic Development’ Research and Training Forum. The Forum was attended by 170 people and more than 1,000 people took part remotely. During five pitch sessions, 56 organizations (scientific and education centres, research institutes, universities, and companies) presented scientific and technological developments in such areas as ‘Development of Energy in the Arctic’, ‘Arctic Transport and Infrastructure’, ‘Geophysics, Exploration, and Industry of the Arctic’, ‘Environmental Safety and Monitoring of Climate Change’, and ‘The Human Potential of the Arctic’.

Applications to take part in the ArcTech Arctic Technology Competition may be submitted on the website of the ArcTech Platform for technological competitions (arctech.center) until 8 June 2023.

On 14 June, the teams selected for the competition will be announced. The final round of the ArcTech Data competition will take place on 11 August 2023, while the results of the ArcTech Engineering and ArcTech Scientific Pitch competitions will be announced on 24 November 2023.

The competition partners are the National Technology Transfer Association, the Innovation Development Fund of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Tomsk State University, and the Association of Innovation and Technology Brokers.