Anitra Arkko-Saukkonen, Anzelika Krastina & Satu Miettinen

Arctic companies are located in rural and sparsely populated areas where long distances are a common feature. Innovations and development collaboration could offer Arctic companies the possibility to widen their potential business. Digitalisation can enable companies to expand their operations and collaborations in a sustainable way. The University of Applied Sciences should take responsibility for the mutual research, development and innovation activities of companies and students, where integration of collaborative work can benefit development of companies and simultaneously provide learning opportunities for students. Such integration responds to changes in society in terms of education and regional development.

In the area of design research, we present how Creative Steps 2.0 has been redeveloped into an authentic learning environment where Arctic creative business is matched with another business and where students provide innovation and development assistance for companies in cross-border collaboration. We looked at the functionality of an authentic learning environment and the benefits for companies. Authentic learning is the framework for the study and has a strong impact on strengthening working life skills. In the development phase, companies brought perspectives to support the development of the authentic learning environment through co-design. The data were collected with a mixed methods approach and analysed with a formative and content analysis.

Participation brought the benefits from perspectives, creating a network and ideas that could later be used. However, the final concept was not notable, and companies were critical of the outcomes. The importance of the international network was the most significant factor among the companies.

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