IC² Hosts Delegations from Northern Sweden and the Texas/New Mexico Permian Basin to Explore Energy Transition

Leaders from Northern Sweden and the Texas/New Mexico Permian Basin compare notes.


How do economies historically focused on extractive industries pivot to new, clean, green industries?  And how can that shift mitigate the impact of the boom-and-bust cycles that currently plague local economies?

To collaboratively address these questions, the IC² Institute hosted an inter-regional, international workshop engaging key leaders from Northern Sweden and the Texas / New Mexico Permian Basin. Attendees shared their experiences and best practices around workforce development, innovation, attraction and retention of talent, and community well-being.

Both regions’ economies have been built on extractive industries — metals mining in Northern Sweden, oil and gas in the Permian Basin. But this is rapidly changing, at least in Northern Sweden, which is attracting significant investment in clean hydrogen, fossil-free steel production, green electricity, and electrification of aviation.  The Permian Basin could be looking at a similar future due to accelerated investment in advanced energy technologies such as hydrogen, geothermal, and carbon capture.

For both regions, the transition away from an economy centered on a boom/bust industry holds promise for the communities’ overall well-being. The boom/bust cycle — with its spikes in employment and earnings and wild fluctuations in the demand for infrastructure and goods and services — can make a  community vulnerable and unable to respond effectively to community needs.

Swedish workshop participants included leaders from Lulea Technical University and its Arctic Business Incubator, the Swedish Space Corporation, as well as startups and industry leaders in the green manufacturing and space-technology spaces. The Permian Basin group included thought leaders from The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Texas Permian Basin; New Mexico State University; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; as well as leading entrepreneurs and representatives from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Each workshop participant was tasked with creating a value proposition — a compelling case of value highlighting key assets and offerings in their region capable of drawing talent, technology and new industry players. In addition to the value proposition exercise, participants attended SXSW sessions, met with leaders in the Austin’s clean-tech sector, engaged with early technology fund managers, and participated in startup ecosystem and pitch events.

The similarities between the regions — separated by thousands of miles, governmental philosophy, latitude, weather, culture, and history — surprised the participants. It also prompted many conversations; hopefully these conversations will spawn future collaborations.

The Center for European Studies (CES) at The University of Texas co-sponsored the workshop, which was scheduled to coincide with  Austin’s SXSW Conference. This was the fourth in a series of IC²/ CES events connecting European and U.S. innovators during SXSW. IC² Deputy Executive Director Gregory Pogue and Bureau of Business Research Director Bruce Kellison coordinated the workshop.

Read the full report:  Re-Visioning Traditional Economies, Innovating for the Future.



Posted on

May 1, 2024