Fablab Upernavik

    Fablab Upernavik

    Faithful to its commitment to responsible tourism, PONANT supports the Inuit communities of the Upernavik district, located in the North-East of Greenland, in order to enable them to diversify their resources by reviving local know-how.


    PONANT’s support for the FabLab takes three forms:

    • A financial donation to support the creation of the FabLab.
    • The sale of the sculptures on board its ships.
    • An additional €10 subsidy for each digital travel booklet if guests choose to receive this booklet only rather than the “paper” booklet”.

    “At PONANT, we are committed to environmental preservation on a daily basis, from the design of our ships to shore visits. Our support for the local communities in the Upernavik district therefore has perfect affinity with our priorities,” emphasises Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of PONANT.


    The Inuit communities of the Upernavik district live in perfect harmony with their environment. In the past, this was demonstrated every day via hunting and fishing, but also via the creation of small amulets. Easily transportable, they were shaped out of narwhal ivory, musk ox horn, bone, stone and driftwood.

    Subject to strict hunting quotas, these communities need to diversify their resources. To deal with this situation, the EDANA research laboratory of the Haute Ecole Arc (University of Applied Science) in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the Museum of Ethnography of Neuchâtel and Nicolas Dubreuil, Head of Expeditions at PONANT, initiated the “Upernavik FabLab”, the first 3D-printing laboratory in Greenland.

    The goal of this FabLab is to make 3D copies of certain Inuit amulets found in European museum collections. The pieces reproduced by the Inuit sculptors of the Upernavik district will then be sold in museums and on board the company’s ships, thus providing the artisans with a lasting source of income.


    “This FabLab project in Upernavik and what ensues will be of benefit to technical schools, small local businesses, indeed to the entire population of Upernavik, which will open up to the world,” explains Philippe Geslin, Doctor in Social Anthropology & Ethnology and Professor at the HE-Arc Engineering school in Neuchâtel.

    “The elders who can no longer hunt on the pack ice are going to obtain a complementary income thanks to the sculptures. And the younger ones will have access to new technologies, innovation and exchanges around the world via the web,” confirm, in unison, Ole and Knud, two young Greenlanders who came to Neuchâtel for 3D printing training in September 2014.

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