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Science Meets Regions in Helsinki-Uusimaa

During spring 2022, the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council launched a programme Science Meets Regions in Helsinki-Uusimaa. The Council strives to develop the region and its wellbeing in a new way, both nationally and internationally. The programme arranged in cooperation with the Joint Research Center of the European Commission aims to promote the spearheading of the objectives in the current Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Programme by decision-making based on various data.  

To find a solution to the structural challenges of our region, we need broad collaboration and new partnerships.

Our research, development and innovations produce solutions to be utilized to meet many challenges in synergy with political, legislative and cultural changes.

Top ranking programme with many events – aiming at innovations

The launching of the Science Meets Regions Programme in the Helsinki Music Centre on 4 April 2022 brought EU actors and decision-makers of Helsinki-Uusimaa together with representatives of science, art, business, the public and private sector. The programme went on with three innovation camps, with themes from the spearheading of the objectives in the Regional Programme for 2030. The programme culminated with the final seminar in the late autumn. Thoughts and actions around the spearheads were put together.  

The long-term objectives of the programme are innovations combining scientific and artistic, that is experience-based, data from various fields.

We have invited regional businesses, scientific communities and municipalities to achieve climate neutrality, attract investments and create jobs together. We have approached comprehensive issues by bringing different actors together, to find new innovative solutions.

In May 2022 we invited regional businesses, scientific and art communities, as well as municipalities to join us in the Science Meets Regions policy-maker conference. The opening conference offered some cross-cutting of the three spearheads of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Programme, as well as of the themes for all three innovation camps: To increase the research and development expenditure of Helsinki-Uusimaa to 5 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), to be a climate neutral region in 2030, and to achieve an employment rate of 80 per cent in Helsinki-Uusimaa by the end of 2030.   

– The Science Meets Regions Programme has indeed some ambitious goals, but less is no longer enough. We do not only need economic and technical innovations, but cultural innovations, as well. We have to find out how we can discuss what kind of a world we truly wish to live in and get both some hope and will for a turning point, Mr Kaarlo Hildén, Rector at University of the Arts Helsinki, said when opening the seminar.  

Comprehensive issues and ambitious goals are being approached from many different angles by doing things differently, in a new way. We bring together scientists, artists and companies.  

Helsinki-Uusimaa has set a goal to increase the research and development expenditure of the region to 5 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product GDP, to be able to support green and digital transition, to find solutions to increase health and wellbeing, along with regional vitality. Together with our regional actors, we were looking for new ways to reach our goal during the first Science Meets Regions innovation camp.  

The observation of the patience and perseverence needed of various actors to lift the level of R&D investments was the most important thing that came up during our discussions about innovations. Our region and country have plenty of top-level competence, but we also need international actors to support us.   

– It is also important for us to tell our own success stories – still many of them remain unheard. Let us therefore be proud of our achievements, as they certainly inspire and bring new competence to our region, along with funding. In this way we are one step closer to our ambitious goals to increase wellbeing in Helsinki-Uusimaa, as reminded by the VP for International Affairs at VTT, Mr Ilmari Lastikka.  

We aim to make the Helsinki-Uusimaa Region climate neutral by 2030. On our way to this ambitious goal, first and foremost, we need target-oriented collaboration. To achieve climate neutrality, we have to strengthen carbon dioxide sinks and decrease emissions in all sectors.  

How to reach the climate target of Helsinki-Uusimaa was the theme of our brainstorm session with regional actors on the second Science Meets Regions innovation camp. Apart from the strength of cooperation, the discussions highlighted the fact that everyone can really make a difference, to make an impact. Mr Kai Öistämö, GEO for Vaisala, reminded the participants that besides making the carbon footprint smaller, we need to increasingly emphasize the positive impacts that our actions can have on our environment:  

– The question of responsibility should be clear to all organisations by now. We should now focus on putting the mitigation of climate change really in the centre of our activities and reflect upon the company handprints. It is also vital to produce information to support decision-making.  

We aim for a high employment rate in the whole Helsinki-Uusimaa Region by 2030. A higher employment rate as such leads to more wellbeing in our region, but work is also an important precondition to achieve our other goals. Again, we need to pull in the same direction and get new ideas to implement together.  

During the third Science Meets Regions innovation camp the actors of Helsinki-Uusimaa reflected upon how new work opportunities can be created in the region by international innovations, and what is needed to turn brain drain into suction when it comes to international talents. How can municipalities, higher education institutions, wellbeing service counties, the state and employers develop their shared courses of action to improve employment? 

– Continuous learning, the importance of cooperation, the possibilities and empIoyment of professionals talking different languages, the role of innovational activities were acknowledged as important transition points. Solving the problem of supply and demand, and a smooth transition from studies to working life belong to these points. In order to reach the goals and increase green works we need data, but also value and attitude changes, highlighted by Mr Ossi Savolainen, Regional Mayor.   

– We have a well-functioning top society, and it should be possible for everyone to experience it. This is how we can keep our international talents here, a reminder by Mr Rasmus Roiha, CEO for Software E-business Finland and a member of Helsinki City Council.

The Chairperson for the Feminist Association Unioni, Ms Fatim Diarra goes on: – It should not be too hard to come to Finland. Even if a professional is not staying in our country, she or he will be an envoy for Finland if the personal experiences are good. 

It is now time to make the goals and innovations reality. The Science Meets Regions Programme aims at advancing the realization of the spearheads of Helsinki-Uusimaa by 2030 and thus to increase the wellbeing in our region.  

The chain of events belonging to the Science Meets Regions project culminated in a closing seminar, where the new possibilities of science, art, technology, innovation and smart specialisation were highlighted, as well as actions that can regionally meet the biggest challenges of our time. The programme seminars have been the beginning of innovations and movements to create a world-class future.   

– We can look back at an excellent Science Meets Regions project, but now we move on with the process. Even more fruitful collaboration is needed among all regional actors, Regional Mayor, Mr Ossi Savolainen says. 

– Already we have hundreds of people who have joined us in the implementation of this systemic level change. We are all very committed to work together in order to reach the goals, Mr Ossi Savolainen says.

– It is important that various actors have joined us. As the first region in Europe, Helsinki-Uusimaa is now showing what the new EU Innovations Programme really means in practice, as stated by Mr Markku Markkula, President of Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Board.   

Final report

Uusimaa Science Meets Regions: towards a good future through collaboration and changing the direction for regional policy. The programme Science Meets Regions was a good starting point for the process of further enchancing wellbeing across Finland while generating sustainable growth. The Helsinki-Uusimaa Region has unique potential for sustainable growth. In many European and global comparisons, the region has been at the top. Its strengths are associated with wellbeing, the high level of education and innovations. 

However, there are also areas in the region that need development, like sustainability and employment. Putting the strengths and possibilities of Helsinki-Uusimaa to use requires a closer collaboration between various regional actors. Nationally, this means a move of resources to the Metropolitan Region. 

The Science Meets Regions process has made it clear that the objectives of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Programme work well for the future of our region. A successful Finland in the future needs an understanding that opportunities for the growth of the whole country are concentrated, above all, in densely populated growth areas.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Markku Markkula, President of the Board 
Phone: +358 50 464 2455, markku.markkula@aalto.fi

This page was last updated: 2.11.2023