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Strong innovation ecosystem is the backbone of competitiveness of Helsinki Smart Region

Helsinki-Uusimaa rose to the top of the European Union in a publication comparing the innovation environments in European countries and regions in 2019. This acknowledgement shows that our innovation ecosystem is already rather strong. Yet, to stay ahead in the global race, EU, member states and their regions need to continue investing and developing the right policies for innovation to flourish. Also, in the Helsinki-Uusimaa Region we continuously need to improve conditions for our innovation actors.

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To keep our position and to strengthen our smart specialisation innovation ecosystem the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council run a 2,5-year project called RIS Boost. The project started in 2019 with the aim of increasing the competitiveness of the regional stakeholders, improving the functioning of the ecosystem and to create visibility in the international networks. The Council wanted also to enhance the know-how of the Helsinki-Uusimaa region’s smart specialisation spearheads and their interfaces. 

Innovation are the backbone of future jobs and growth. In our region the focus is on innovation that creates sustainable, smart, equal, and inclusive growth. The global megatrends of climate change, demographic change, urbanisation, and digitalisation are present in Helsinki-Uusimaa, but also solutions to meet the challenges are created here. In our region we have the capital city of Helsinki with over 650,000 inhabitants, but also very small municipalities with around 2,000 inhabitants. This creates a unique opportunity to test and pilot sustainable, smart, and digital solutions for different sized cities and municipalities. 

Targeted actions with stakeholders  

One of the first things that was done during the project was to analyse the international activities and networks of our regional stakeholders. The report showed that our stakeholders are working together with far wider group of countries and regions than previously thought of.  

“Our actors are already active in European projects. The goal of the RIS project has been to activate them even more and to get new stakeholders to participate in European projects”, says Project Manager Emma-Leena Kemppainen.  

After the reports were published, the lessons learnt were analysed and different capacity building webinars were planned. The webinars covered topics such as co-creation methods for project planning, participation in online events and European funding programs. The webinars proved to be useful and popular – there were high number of participants in all of them and the feedback was very popular.   

RIS priorities were crystallised together  

Entrepreneurial discovery process is an important process to interact with and include regional innovation ecosystem actors in identifying new and potential innovation activities. It is also an integral part of the regional smart specialisation strategies.  

“RIS Boost project implemented EDP in practice in series of workshops, which were organised to crystallise the RIS priorities of the new RIS strategy for Helsinki-Uusimaa”, explains Emma-Leena Kemppainen and continues: “The new strategy, published in April 2020, has an umbrella theme of resource wisdom and three strategic priorities. We organised four workshops, one for each priority and one that brought together all topics. We used latest digital tools to collect the thoughts and ideas from the stakeholders and to allow active discussion.”  

Stakeholders came up with various project ideas and possibilities for cooperation. The project collected these views for the council, so that in the implementation of the RIS strategy these can be considered.  

Stronger ecosystem and increased cabacity 

Highly developed regions like Helsinki-Uusimaa thrives on innovation. Our smart specialisation strategy promotes the economic development of our region with the help of the latest information and new innovative solutions. The strategy is successful when closely connected actors innovate together. That is why the regional innovation ecosystem, and its actors play a central role. With the help of RIS Boost we have created awareness of our strategy and opportunities it offers, have supported the competence building with our webinars and have created visibility for our actors. The project achieved its goals.  

The RIS Boost project received funding from the Finnish Structural Funds’ program Sustainable Growth and Jobs 2014–2020

The project also published a first guidebook in Finnish about the S3 platforms, read more here.

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For further information, please contact:

Senior Advisor Emma-Leena Kemppainen

emma-leena.kemppainen@uudenmaanliitto.fi

Senior Advisor Venla Virkamäki

venla.virkamaki@uudenmaanliitto.fi