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Operational Programme 'Western Finland'

Programme under Competitiveness and employment objective, co-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The European Commission approved on 27 September 2007 a regional operational programme for Western Finland region for the period 2007-2013, entitled "Länsi-Suomen EAKR-toimenpideohjelma" within the framework of the Competitiveness and employment objective. The programme covers the regions of Southern Ostrobothnia, Central Finland, Pirkanmaa, Ostrobothnia and Satakunta with a population of approximately 1,33 million at the end of 2005.

The total budget of the programme is around EUR 398.4 million and the Community assistance through the ERDF amounts to EUR 159.4 million, which accounts for approximately 9 % of the total amount invested in Finland during programming period 2007-2013.

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

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Western Finland is based on strong urban centres and the surrounding rural areas with their own sub regional centres. The main strengths of the urban areas include basic industry and processing, an entrepreneurial tradition, high quality education system and good communication networks. Internationally renowned technology skills are also characteristic of some urban areas. On the other hand, Western Finland plays an important role in Finland's agricultural production. The coastal area of the Gulf of Bothnia is important to the whole of Finland in terms of marine connections. The main challenges of the region stem from its higher than average unemployment rate, regional differences in demographic trends and in some sectors also lack of skilled labour. Metal and technology industry, mechanical wood processing and forest, energy and food industry clusters are well developed in the region. Also the maritime cluster is strong. Sometimes areas are very dependant on these clusters and this can be also seen as a challenge in the globalising operating environment.

During 2000-06 Western Finland benefited from Structural Fund support of over EUR 297 million within the Western Finland Objective 2 programme, with the help of which more than 24,000 new jobs were created, over 31,000 jobs were maintained, and nearly 4,500 new companies were created by the end of year 2006.

The new EU programme for 2007-13 aims to build on the success of the previous programme and the objective of the Competitiveness and employment programme for Western Finland is strengthening of balanced and sustainable regional development and the development of innovation and knowledge structures in key sectors.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The programme aims to create 9,800 new jobs and 2,000 new enterprises. The aim is to use 12,5% of the financial envelope to research and development projects creating 150 new R&D jobs. 80.4% of the investment available has been earmarked for Lisbon-related expenditure, which is above the Community objective of 75% for Regional Competitiveness and Employment regions.

3. Priority axes

The programme will be implemented through four main priorities plus a Technical Assistance priority.

Priority 1: Promotion of business activity

This priority aims at developing productivity, creating more jobs and safeguarding existing jobs through supporting entrepreneurship and growth of enterprises and through improving access to business services and finance.

Priority 2: Promotion of innovation activity and networking, and reinforcing knowledge structures

This priority aims to activate expert networks with strong links to the national and international development projects of enterprises, universities, research institutes as well as regional businesses, and to support the creation and development of centres of excellence for key sectors.

Priority 3: Improving regional accessibility and operational environments

This priority will concentrate on three central areas: a). Improvement of regional accessibility and level of well being; b). Support for tourism and related business operating environments; and c) Environmental risk management and supporting nature diversity.

Priority 4: Development of larger urban areas

This priority will focus on developing knowledge-intensive sectors and the service sector and nurturing creativity, promoting the community spirit and improving the competitiveness of the large urban areas of Western Finland.

Priority 5: Technical assistance

This priority will provide support for programme management and implementation, including technical support, communications and publicity, research and evaluation actions.

4. Managing Authority

Ministry of Employment and the Economy
P.O. Box 32
FIN-00023 GOVERNMENT
Director General, Regional Department
Taina, Susiluoto
Tel.: +358 29 506 0000
Fax.: +358 9 1606 2160
E-mail.: taina.susiluoto@tem.fi
Web: Ministry of Employment and the Economy

Financial and Technical information

Title : Operational Programme 'Western Finland'

Intervention Type : Operational Programme

CCI no : 2007FI162PO003

Number of decision : C(2007)4506

Final approval date : 2007-09-27

Breakdown of finances by priority axis
Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Promotion of business activity 56 531 659 85 980 367 142 512 026
Promotion of innovation activity and networking, and reinforcing knowledge structures 62 568 034 95 161 236 157 729 270
Improving regional accessibility and operational environments 27 062 555 41 160 095 68 222 650
Development of larger urban areas 6 838 568 10 387 044 17 225 612
Technical Assistance 6 375 034 6 375 034 12 750 068
Total 159 375 850 239 063 776 398 439 626
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