EIT chairman visits Finland to witness new regional participation in Climate-KIC first hand

The chairman of the EIT Governing Board, Peter Olesen, has visited the Helenski-Usuimaa region this month (February 2015) to learn more about its participation in Climate-KIC through a new EIT outreach scheme, and the plans for further integration.

The EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) aims to increase the innovation capacity in areas and regions across Europe that do not already directly benefit from the EIT and its Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs). Climate-KIC takes part in the scheme by working with additional European regions through its existing regional centres.

Peter Olesen, Chairman of the EIT Governing Board
Peter Olesen, Chairman of the EIT Governing Board

The Helenski-Usuimaa region has been working with Climate-KIC’s regional centre in Hessen, Germany, since November 2014 resulting in a range of successful participation in Climate-KIC by Finnish start-up entrepreneurs, sustainability professionals and partner organisations.

Olli-Pekka Hatanpää, Regional Planning Manager of the Helsinki-Uusimaa region said: “We are very pleased with our activities in 2014 and have experienced mutual interest and similarities in a lot of fields. We would love to build on that in the future as the Climate-KIC network offers possibilities with its different composition of partners and more hands on approach, which we cannot find in other business networks.”

The Helsinki-Uusimaa region on the south coast of Finland is home to around 1.6 million, which is more than a quarter of the country’s total population.

Start-ups and Pioneers

Eight start-ups from Helsinki-Uusimaa participated in the Climate-KIC Accelerator. Start-ups from various fields and backgrounds participated, including climate change related consultancy, packaging solutions, car sharing, real estate management, mobility, solar energy and liquefied natural gas technology. 

The first part of their participation was carried out as part of a three day bootcamp in Hessen in August 2014. The second part of the programme was realised through a event called “Slush”, which took place in Helsinki in November 2014, where three start-ups from Hessen also participated.

Start-ups had the possibility to extend their network and gain international contacts. During the Slush event, start-ups were introduced to investors and made new contacts with international insight which might help them with entering new markets in future.

The Pioneers into Practice programme proved to be of great interest as well, with ten participants from Helsinki-Uusimaa joining the programme. Their overall experience was positive, making new and valuable contacts across Europe. Some said that their stay in Hessen had changed their future professional ambitions.

Exchanges

Last year’s activities also led to fruitful exchanges among regional partners in Finland and Germany, and to identification of common priorities and related sets of themes. Exchange visits were used to get to know the respective regions.

In September and November of 2014, groups of experts from both regions made reciprocal visits to understand theme-related characteristics of the respective partner region, these were complemented by lectures from regional practitioners and scientists.

2015 ambitions

Olesen was told that this year’s activities will concentrate more on developing concepts for joint action, aligned with regional challenges and exploiting local or European funding opportunities.

Exchange visits will be organised and include focused workshops with selected partners that allow for a deeper knowledge exchange and offer an easier working environment leading to the actual design and drafting of joint initiatives.

Climate-KIC’s Nordic centre has initiated discussions with Aalto University and the City of Helsinki for them to become partners in 2015 to strengthen the Climate-KIC community in Finland. They are looking forward to collaborating in the regional setting too and a pilot project is already starting in February with Uusimaa, Helsinki.

They will also engage through their entrepreneurship activity, Climate Launchpad which is planned to take place in Helsinki and other educational cooperation with EIT ICT Labs Helsinki.

Regional Innovation Scheme

Aim of the EIT’s Regional Innovation Scheme is to develop innovation capacity at regional level by integrating the public authorities, business and research sectors to support the low-carbon economy..

Climate-KIC discussed the scheme in the European Parliament during a debate on how the EU can benefit from more impact of its low-carbon programmes through more coordination on the local levels.

The participating regions are the West Midlands (UK), Hessen (Germany), Valencia (Spain), Emilia Romagna (Italy), Lower Silesia (Poland) and Central Hungary, who have paired up in two-region partnerships with Cork/Dublin (Ireland), Helsinki/Uusimaa (Finland), North Portugal and Lisbon, Slovenia and Timis (Romania).