Reinforcing cluster collaboration in East and North Finland
The regions of East and North Finland (ENF) have long traditions in cooperation. The area as a whole is one of EU´s Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA) which have also been viewed as a special target area of territorial cohesion in the regional and structural policies of the EU. A new phase in the ENF collaboration was launched in early 2018 when the area was chosen as one of European Commission´s pilot areas to develop new approaches based on smart specialisation. The pilot was called Regions in Industrial Transition or as we like to call it, ELMO
The first phase of the ELMO collaboration produced the East and North Finland in industrial transition -smart specialisation strategy 2019-2023 that leads the way to identifying regional strengths and competences. The cross-cutting competencies that ENF regions possess specialised expertise and technologies in are, clean technologies and low-carbon solutions, industrial circular economy, ICT and digitalisation and innovative technologies and production processes.
The industries of the ENF area are strongly focused on the utilisation of natural resources and conditions. For this reason, sustainable development is of vital importance for the future of the industries in East and North Finland. The utilisation of industrial side-flows promotes the resource-efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. The ENF area is already a pioneer in the development of solutions for an industrial circular economy, which is one of the most significant growth sectors in the area.
Developing joint cluster activities
The development of joint cluster activities was identified as a fourth development priority during the strategy process. A cluster mapping was carried out in the ENF area during 2019 in the priority areas of the strategy in order to identify the existing competencies and networks in the regions. As a result of the mapping, five thematic areas for clusters were identified in the process that East and North Finland has existing clusters and extensive knowledge in.
A series of networking events and training were designed and implemented during 2020 to facilitate cluster development but also to enable cross-regional cluster networking. Enhancing better utilisation of the RDI services offered by innovation platforms in the regions was also set as a common goal. In East and North Finland, the construction of innovation platforms has been systematically financed in recent years. The basis has been to create new businesses and to support SMEs in producing new or improved products, processes and services. To support innovation activities and to increase the awareness of the platform in East and North Finland, a search engine was established in 2020 that includes almost 50 innovation platforms from the area in the priority areas of the joint smart specialisation strategy. Boosting the visibility of innovation platforms as well as improving the collaboration between the service providers will ensure that the regions can better meet with the development needs of the business sector in the regions.
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