Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2015 - Page 16

Breaking New Ground Innovative cities transform old mines and paper mills to 21st century moneymakers The challenge that many cities face is generating new business and new companies, thus creating more jobs. Around the world, communities with strong industrial roots have struggled as mines and mills have been shut down. However, in the new knowledge-intensive Experience Economy there is plenty of room – and even a demand – for cities with an innovative mindset and willingness to see tradition and history as a springboard, not a tombstone. F innish Government is active in supporting a string of innovative cities with an eye for the future. Having pooled together resources between science, education, companies and the government, the cities will deploy methods that feature new development environments, creating pioneering markets and national and international cooperation in leveraging expertise. Under the national Innovative Cities programme, development environments may include demonstration and testing platforms for new technologies and services as well as new operating models for competence-based entrepreneurship. Major investments for the future made by the cities (for example in energy and water supply, waste management, housing, transport and health care) have not been – as of yet – exploited as development platforms for innovations. The Starting Five The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has approved five national themes for the programme and named the urban regions responsible for leading the effort. The focus areas are Bioeconomy, Sustainable energy solutions, Future health care, Smart cities and industrial regeneration and Cyber security. 14 Nordicum The City of Joensuu is spearheading Bioeconomy, with Jyväskylä and Seinäjoki also participating in this theme area. Joensuu, located in Eastern Finland, is one of the Finnish cities which is trying to think out of the box when it comes to rejuvenating the local economy. The Joensuu Region has a lot of things going for it: there is already a diverse product development and innovation structure in place. For instance, The Finnish Forest Research Institute, the Geological Survey of Finland, the European Forest Institute and the Eastern Finland Centre of Excellence in Social Welfare are among the organisations that can be found here. Adding to this, the internationally renowned nano research, carried out at the University of Eastern Finland, has resulted in the establishment of several nanotechnology companies in the region. Seeking Growth The most notable industry employers are the metal and engineering sectors, providing almost half the jobs. In addition, the region’s forest industry experts have established Joensuu’s reputation as one of the forestry capitals of Europe. Recent growth has centered on the metal industry, but also completely new sectors with plenty of potential have emerged alongside the traditional industries: bioenergy, mining and call centre sectors in particular have developed into full-fledged knowledge centres for Joensuu Region. Furthermore, the presence of gold and copper has generated successful mining industry operations in the region. Interestingly enough, the most recent “mining operation” is not targeting precious metals, but experiences and emotions. Under the concept of ‘Treasure Town’, a small, former mining town of Outokumpu has created something unique at the old copper mine. Building on Tradition At the beginning of 20th century, Outokumpu was a tiny rural community in the backwoods of Karelia Region, but finding copper in 1910 launched the area on the fast track for industrialisation. In addition to copper, the multiple mines yielded e.g. iron, gold and silver for decades – until the mines were closed in 1989. Anne Mujunen, Marketing Manager for Joensuu Region Development Company JOSEK, says that about ten years ago, the local actors started thinking about ways to bring the old mine “back to life”.