Centre of Expertise Programme promoting innovation activity in the regions
The Centre of Expertise programme (2007–2013) has succeeded in boosting the competitiveness and attractiveness of small localities in particular. It has also enhanced the division of duties between regions, while enabling closer cooperation between enterprises and research institutions working in different regions.
Moreover, by eliminating overlaps, the programme has intensified the efficient utilisation of research and innovation activity resources. These assessments were presented at a seminar in Helsinki on 20 May 2010, focussing on the programme’s success and objectives for the remaining part of the programming period (2011–2013).
– The crisis in the world economy during the current period of the CoE programme revealed the vulnerability of our production structure. On this occasion, the recession and unemployment extended to lines of business and industry, and localities, which had invested in expertise, said Mauri Pekkarinen, Minister of Economic Affairs, one of the speakers at the seminar.
– We must now ensure the continuous renewal of economic structures in anticipation of the future. Development resources must be targeted most of all at industries which offer entrepreneurial activities the best preconditions for growth and success.
– At this point, the programme has contributed to the creation of over 350 new enterprises and over 3,000 jobs. This has enhanced the specialisation of regions and sub-regions and helped bring expertise up to international standards. In future, it is increasingly vital that regional actors, enterprises, universities, universities of applied sciences and decision-makers in all regions share a mutual perspective on regional development guidelines, concluded Minister Pekkarinen.
The preliminary results of the Centre of Expertise programme’s mid-term assessment, carried out by experts from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, were presented at the seminar today.
The 13 national competence clusters of the Centre of Expertise programme form networks of CoEs, operating in different parts of Finland, into thematic and industry-specific entities. Based on the new operating model, activities based on inter-regional competition have been redirected towards fostering national networking and the internationalisation of enterprises. This solution has generated positive results.
The programme promotes regional innovation activity in many ways: it activates SMEs to utilise new information, new types of tools and best practices, while encouraging them to go international. It also expedites and motivates enterprises to link with international projects and enter international markets.
Participating companies have forged new contacts through the programme, while gaining new information on the development of their operating environment. The programme has relayed enterprise development needs further on to other actors involved in innovation, such as institutions of higher education and other development organisations.
According to the assessment by VTT experts, the challenge regarding the programme’s successful implementation lies in coordinating the special needs of regions with national objectives, and poor awareness at national level. Due to the general economic recession, the programme has not succeeded in meeting all of the business objectives set.
The Centre of Expertise Programme (2007–2013), managed by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, is the Government’s fixed-term special programme aimed at generating expertise of an internationally high standard, based on regional strengths. Programme website: www.oske.net
Ms Pirjo Kutinlahti, Counsellor, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 (0)10 606 3548
Mr Antti Pelkonen, Senior Researcher, VTT, tel. +358 (0)40 50 97 467
Mr Juha Oksanen, Researcher, VTT, tel. +358 (0)40 742 2439