Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 59

ing networking facilitator in cleantech sector in Finland. The Finnish Cleantech Cluster has already helped to create over 500 new greencollar jobs and dozens of new international business opportunities for Finnish cleantech companies. In recent years, the cleantech sector in Lahti has been growing rather nicely, with special expertise to be found in e.g. public water system maintenance, international projects, soil treatment, waste management and recycling. Call of the Tracks Mayor Myllyvirta is of the opinion that even as various types of companies have made Lahti their home, there will be even greater attraction in the future as central areas around the railway tracks will receive a total makeover. Starting with the vicinity of the train station, these grounds represent the most significant development opportunity of this decade – and the next one, Myllyvirta believes. “As we are effectively connecting the area by the tracks to the downtown, there will be plenty of synergies to be enjoyed and the urban structure will become so much more diverse.” According to the plans, the emergence of diverse business premises and residential units will help turn the environs of the ing of the natives – the City of Lahti was among the first to have a municipal board of environment, for instance, and attention paid to waste management and recycling has been noteworthy also in international comparison. Against this background, it is no wonder that ten percent of Finnish environmental business operations are located in the Lahti Region, along with a strong environmental Business Park and three universities with their own environmental units. As it stands, Lahti Region is Finland’s most important regional cluster for research, education and business in the field – and it has been making waves internationally, also. In fact, a couple of years ago, Danuta Hübner, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, hailed the Finnish Cleantech Cluster and its coordinator Lahti Development Company LADEC as a model example of concrete results achieved with the help of EU funding. Today, LADEC is a lead- railway station into a “modern travel hub” where train and bus connections merge. Already in the area, there is, for example, the Asko business area, which has proved the attractiveness of the neighbourhood. According to Myllyvirta, it is not hard to see why companies find this area appealing: it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk to the train which can take you to Helsinki within the hour – or to St. Petersburg in just a couple of hours. “In the future, all development will be focusing on connections more and more. With this trackside construction, we are very much tapping into that growth potential.” Crocodile Campus To boost the development, the City set up a World Design Capital 2012 architecture competition for the development of the trackside – the contest in question was, in fact, the single largest architectural competition launched during WDC2012. In the competition, also the citizens were asked for their opinions, as citizen participation is deemed to have a central role in the planning of the area. Citizens, with widely varying viewpoints, were included in the generation of ideas for the area from the start. Ultimately, the winner of the competition was architecture agency Ajak with its plan ‘Green Crocodile’. Jyrki Myllyvirta, Mayor of Lahti, says that Lahti is a great match for companies of all sizes. Nordicum 57