Clusters for environmental care
Finns are recognised as experts when it comes to environmental matters, however businesses in this field are often modest in size and face difficulties expanding. To help them find new business opportunities and increase their potential for export, the InnoEnvi project in southern Finland has created thematic groups (clusters) and sub-groups (mini-clusters) of environmental operatives and resulted in the set-up of over 50 second- and third-generation projects.
"The InnoEnvi project was really a starting point for our company. The web service created during the project was later developed as a larger, international Material Exchange portal, which expanded our business to another level."
Janne Koivisto, CEO, Environmental Consulting Hyötyvisio Ltd
To ensure the development of environmental know-how and to create real co-operation between companies, a register was created and includes some 650 companies linked to similar international registers where over 6 000 companies from across the globe are actively sharing information and experience in this field.
Small efforts generate big rewards
InnoEnvi’s partners (Green Net Finland - principal partner, Lahti Science and Business Park Ltd, HAMK University of Applied Sciences, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Helsinki University of Technology Lifelong Learning Institute Dipoli, Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and Turku Science Park Ltd) are regional organisations with recognised skills in supporting environmental companies.
Initially, 700 private and public companies were taking part, however this has grown tenfold and also now covers seven countries. Since August 2003, co-operation has become a reality with four online services to facilitate exchanges between the sub-group members. Six market and trend surveys, brochures such as for ‘Green Net Mining’, 33 publications, strategic planning, marketing as well as fairs and road shows all feature in InnoEnvi’s work.
The birth of new clusters
Mini clusters covering waste management, water supply and sewerage, energy, environmental measurement, ecological environmental research and environmental management in the mining and minerals industry were set up - joint projects have started in all these mini clusters. Clusters offer SMEs the chance to make use of the resources and experiences of larger companies, centres of expertise and national and international NGOs.
Snowball effect of Finnish expertise
Bio-energy, contaminated soil treatment, irrigation pipe manufacturing and geo-technology consultancy show the ever-increasing range of services and subjects covered by InnoEnvi. The project has had a significant snowball effect on environmental business growth in Finland and also abroad. The project’s clustering model was applied to the FEEN Prognoos Project in which the Southern Finland environmental cluster was extended into Estonia by forming joint Finnish-Estonian mini clusters in related sectors.