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Innovation through programming? The finnish centres of expertise programme as an instrument of networking and knowledge building

  • Prime Minister's Office, Finland


The Finnish Centres of Expertise programme has already been acknowledged as a successful instrument providing further support for innovation activity and regional industrial development, though it does seem questionable to argue that innovation could be promoted through programming. Innovation capacity can however be supported and fostered, and it is argued in this paper that public policy can address some of the most difficult obstacles to the promotion of innovative regional environments for growth and to support for the emergence of regionally based strategic partnerships. One of the main challenges here lies in promoting inter-regional linkages and networks in an environment that is prone to regionally specific co-operative solutions. If the promotion of expertise and the creation of networks is inherently regional, with the funding structures being equally so, how are inter-regional networks and organizational forms expected to flourish, and how can external support (in this case the national programme for the CoEs) have an impact in this regard? It is thus argued here that organisational learning can be used as a useful tool in understanding these processes.
Paper to be presented at the DRUID Summer Conference 2003 on
The role of Geography, Institutions and Organizations.
Copenhagen June 12-14, 2003
Theme E
Networks, Projects and New Organizational forms as Vehicles for Knowledge Building and Transfer
Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith
Box 1658
SE-111 86 Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46-8-463 5445
Fax: +46-8-463 5401
12th of May 2003
The Finnish Centres of Expertise programme has already been acknowledged as a
successful instrument providing further support for innovation activity and regional industrial
development, though it does seem questionable to argue that innovation could be promoted
through programming. Innovation capacity can however be supported and fostered, and it is
argued in this paper that public policy can address some of the most difficult obstacles to the
promotion of innovative regional environments for growth and to support for the emergence of
regionally based strategic partnerships. One of the main challenges here lies in promoting
inter-regional linkages and networks in an environment that is prone to regionally specific co-
operative solutions. If the promotion of expertise and the creation of networks is inherently
regional, with the funding structures being equally so, how are inter-regional networks and
organizational forms expected to flourish, and how can external support (in this case the
national programme for the CoEs) have an impact in this regard? It is thus argued here that
organisational learning can be used as a useful tool in understanding these processes.
Keywords: Regional Innovation Systems, (regional) Partnership(s), Centres of Expertise,
Innovation Networks
JEL - code(s): 02,022, 031,038
1 Introduction
The Finnish Centres of Expertise (CoE) Programme has been an integral part of Finnish
regional industrial/innovation policy since its inception in 1994. The objective of the
programme has been to create a strong network of centres of expertise supporting
specialisation and cooperation between regions, and by so doing to increase regional
competitiveness. The recent evaluation of the programme undertaken by Nordregio showed
that the programme can still claim uniqueness while also boasting of its success in supporting
regional specialisation and expertise, though challenges remain in particular concerning
network building and knowledge transfer, as well as in connection to the divergent needs of
the different regions, clusters and industrial branches.
In this light then one may ask – can we continue to proclaim the newness of the
organisational model implemented through the CoEs, when it has now been in existence for
nearly 10 years? Moreover we can also ask how significantly has the CoE programme
changed over this time, as the core elements of the organisational model have basically
remained unaltered (national co-ordination, operational role of the science park network
etc.)? It is thus argued here that while programme instruments such as the CoE do develop
over time, the reasons for these changes do not stem from major or radical changes in the
operational principles or functions, but rather in terms of their embeddedness in their regional
environment, their role between the national and local levels, as well as in their role existing
somewhere between “regional policy” and “innovation policy”. A further relevant question in
this respect is thus, how long can a programme document such as the CoE programme justify
its own existence? As the CoEs are not themselves productive entities with large turnovers,
but are rather facilitators and network builders between actors and organisations in the
industrial sector, could one expect there to be a point at which one could say that activities
promoted through CoEs have reached their peak or stand on their own and therefore no
longer need the support provided by the programme? Basically the question here boils down
to this: is there a point at which the 'value added' of the programme starts to diminish, and if
so has this point already been reached with regard to some of the CoEs?
The stakeholders, having been involved in the CoE activities during the current and/or the
previous period were asked about their views on these issues. Needless to say very few
suggested that the programme's role had been played out and thus that it was no longer of
value. It was at times however argued that since the financial side of the programme (in
terms of its basic funding) is so modest, there is no perceivable reason why it should be given
up: there is basically no more effective use for this funding. This view would seem to suggest
that rather than arguing that the region and its innovation system cannot survive without the
CoE, it is the CoE that is harmless enough to survive the test of policy efficiency. This in itself
is an important sign of legitimacy from the RIS stakeholders. Even in areas where alternative
innovation resources abound, and the relative share of the CoE pales in comparison, most
stakeholders seemed to think that the 'value added' of the CoEs in strategic terms, as well as
in providing platforms for new types of co-operative endeavours and dialogue, is unique as
regards national comparison.
As such then it seems justified to say that, as far as the CoEs’ role in networking is
concerned, significant untapped potential remains, particularly beyond the limited regional
partnerships and across regional and national borders, which are often only in the very early
stages of development. While the programme has existed for some time, it is only recently
that we have seen novel forms of networking that can contribute to maintaining the dynamic
of the programme beyond the on-going programming period. Examples of such networking
initiatives are however emerging in different forms, some in the areas of networks more
specifically concerned with innovation creation, diffusion and commercialisation, others in
organisational or operational structures and decision-making processes through which the
programme is implemented. This divergence of networking initiatives can best be seen in
connection with a discussion based on a number of concrete examples. This paper will take
such examples from the Jyväskylä, Oulu, Lappeenranta and Rovaniemi cases.
The CoE programme and the development ideology behind it neatly reflect the prevalent
ideology of regional innovation policy in Finland today. The shift in Finnish industrial policy
has been elegantly described elsewhere (e.g. Rouvinen and Ylä-Anttila 1999, Schienstock
1999 and Hernesniemi, Lammi and Ylä-Anttila 1995; Pajarinen, Rouvinen and Ylä-Anttila
1998), thus this point will receive only minor attention in the paper presented here.
Another question relevant to the theoretical starting point here involves the distinction
between innovation systems and clusters. The difference between regional clusters and
regional innovation systems has often been made and discussed in the innovation literature
(e.g. Isaksen 2001, 107, Cooke et al. 2000) which often notes that regional clusters are seen
(at least in economic terms) as spontaneously emerging and self-organising wholes, while
systems require policy activities, external policy intervention and are therefore necessarily
more planned in their nature. Traditional linear systems perspectives do not however allow for
mere planned activities either, as the understanding of systems and systemic changes has to
be more sensitive to non-linear interpretations and explanations as well.
The idea that public policy initiatives can support competitiveness and innovation capacity
may not be a novel one, but the ways in which this can be achieved certainly requires closer
analysis. It needs to be borne in mind for instance that while the goals of the CoE programme
are nationally set, the role of the CoEs in defined within the regional partnerships, by the
stakeholders, public sector organisations and authorities (from universities to municipalities)
that “own” the regionally based programme. Therefore some of the business services
provided by the science parks/technology centres fall outside the scope of this article, as for
instance incubator facilities or new business centres, which in many cases are geographically
close to the CoEs co-operating closely with them, though they are not strictly speaking part of
the CoE activity per se.1
1 Incubator facilities and spin-off activities are undertaken extensively in many of the key clusters included in the
CoE program. For instance in the Helsinki region, with the most extensive innovation infrastructure, there are a
wide variety of business services that work in the sector of incubators and spin-offs, with differing branch-specific
Though the Centres of Expertise programme has been the flagship of Finnish regional policy
since 1994, there are a number of questions related to the programmes implementation that
can be of wider use beyond the limited Finnish regional context. Some of these are presented
and further elaborated in this paper. How to achieve functioning and stable regional
partnerships in innovation and industrial policy, and how to promote regional development
through them? How to promote internationally competitive expertise in areas as different as
automation, IT, biotechnology, energy, the experience industry and chamber music? Is the
regional approach to expertise useful or should small countries instead proceed from a
national perspective? It is argued here that many of these issues are basically questions of
knowledge creation and transfer, and are thus themselves dependent upon the nature and
success rate of network creation. National authorities are however also in a position to
promote the creation of such networks: regionalised innovation solutions can be seen to
emerge both as ’ bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ process, but rarely do they emerge independently
of some external support.
or locational profiles. (See e.g.;;;
The diversity, as well as the encompassing nature of the programme soon becomes apparent
when the actual areas of expertise are concentrated upon. The interesting question may not
be how many internationally competitive areas of expertise can a small nation of 5 million
inhabitants realistically have (though this question can also justifiably be posed), but rather
what are the different patterns of interaction and networking that are most likely to provide a
sufficient common sense of purpose and motivation to pursue such a programme-based
regional strategy. The actual areas of expertise are represented in the table below.
Cluster Area of expertise Centre
1. Mechanical engineering and
1. Tampere Region
2. High technology metal
2. South-East Finland (Lappeenranta)
3. Materials Technology 3. Satakunta (Pori), Helsinki Region and South-West
Finland (Turku)
4. Polymer technology and
4. North Karelia (Joensuu)
Materials technology and
5. Wood products 5. North Karelia and national network CoE
1. Experience industry 1. Lapland (Rovaniemi)
2. Cultural business 2. Kuhmo, Helsinki Region and South-West Finland
3. Industrial design 3. Päijät-Häme (Lahti)
4. Communications and new
media 4. Tampere and Helsinki Region
1. Distance technology 1. Satakunta
2. Information technology 2. Jyväskylä, South-East, Oulu, Tampere, Helsinki
3. Telecommunications 3. Oulu Region
4. Data-technology 4. Oulu Region
1. Agro-biotechnology 1. Kuopio Region
2. Biotechnology 2. Oulu region, Helsinki Region and South-West
3. Pharmaceutical development 3. Kuopio Region, Oulu Region, South-West Finland
4. Health technology 4. Kuopio Region, Oulu Region, South-West Finland
Biotechnology, health and
food production
5. Food development and
technology 5. Seinäjoki and national network CoE
1. Energy 1. Jyväskylä and Western Finland (Vaasa)
2. Environmental technology 2. Jyväskylä and Lahti
Environment, energy and
3. Logistics (and Expertise on
3. South-East Finland (Lappeenranta)
1. Forestry 1. North Karelia Forestry and paper
2. Paper Production 2. Jyväskylä
The organisational model of the Finnish CoEs reflects the method developed in the CoE
context and it reflects the principles of regional networking and partnership. Furthermore, it is
interesting to note that the largest share of financing is provided by businesses (and in
particular SMEs). During the current programming period specific emphasis is placed on
internationalisation, regional attractiveness, simplifying the national funding system and
networking. According to the evaluation, internationalisation and networking (beyond the
region, i.e. inter-regional and international network-building) can be regarded as the weakest
links in the programme, while regional attractiveness has gained considerable added attention
through the regional implementation of the programme. Though the regional
operationalisation of the programme is based on technology centres (i.e. science parks), the
organisational aspects of the programme as a whole reflect a triple helix-idea of bringing
together universities, research institutions, businesses and public authorities in a non-linear
model of interaction and innovation (e.g. Leydersdorff & Etzkowitz 1996 and Etzkowitz 1997).
The need to balance the natural (and necessary) diversity and endogenous programming
model of the individual Centres with the steering functions and nationally set targets of the
national programme poses challenges for the regional Centres and for national co-ordination.
At its most extreme this situation can best be posed as a question of how much diversity is
allowed on the national level, and when does the diversity incorporated in the programme
becomes so great that the utility of the nationally co-ordinated programme no longer justify
having such a national programme?
Another key challenge lies in promoting inter-regional linkages and networks in an
environment that is prone to regionally specific co-operative solutions. If the promotion of
expertise and the creation of networks is inherently regional, and the funding structures
equally so, how are inter-regional networks and organizational forms expected to flourish? If
the regions and the Centres necessarily compete for their financial (and human) resources,
what is required to promote co-operative behaviour and inter-regional networking among the
centres? What are the advantages and disadvantages, based on Finnish experience, of
regional vs. national approaches to networking for innovation promotion and knowledge
The organisational method of the Finnish CoEs is unique, at least in Nordic terms. One of the
Finnish ‘keys to success’ seems to lie with the organisational structure of the programme: it is
regionally steered through the regional partnership networks (formed by the public sector,
businesses, public authorities and the R&D sector), operationalised by the Technology
Centres and nationally co-ordinated by a broad-based national Committee, the members of
which range from business representatives to the representatives of the public authorities,
key ministries, universities, and innovation organisations. This is in line with one of the
prevailing ideas of innovation systems (i.e. the triple helix) and therefore perhaps not
particularly unique as far as the core ideas for the utilisation of regional innovation as a
development resource are concerned. This, together with the fact that the prevailing
consensus over high technology and expertise has been seen as one of the ‘keys to success’
for a small, knowledge-intensive society such as Finland has ensured that the management of
the CoEs has been stable over a long period of time, whereas many other similar initiatives
have typically failed because they have been temporary in nature and they have worked with
very limited resources to hand.
Another of the ‘keys to success’ is undoubtedly the role of the CoEs themselves in the various
regional innovation systems. The evaluation showed that between 1999 and 2002 the
Centres mobilised a significant part of the network of innovation and regional development in
their activities. In so doing they have also convinced regional actors of the usefulness and
effectiveness of the programme. The financial picture supports the view of regional
commitment. The fact that Centres of Expertise have been so successful in mobilising an
important amount of R&D funding and the other financial resources required for the co-
financing of the programme can be taken as an indication of this regional commitment. Basic
funding, which is used to launch projects accelerating the development of the innovation
environment only amounts to approximately 6% of the total funding available, and it can
therefore only be used as a minor tool in the launching of new projects, or as an additional
project co-ordination resource. Approximately 30% of the funding comes from businesses and
the role of the business sector in the regional networks is thus of particular interest here.
Regional variation in terms of the availability and utilisation of private funding varies greatly,
with Tampere and Oulu being the centres with the highest degree of private financing, while
there are some centres that rely almost entirely on public financing sources. Such centres
should not however be viewed as relative failures and as simply having failed to attract private
financing: in the case of small peripheral regions with for instance a relatively high degree of
Structural Funds financing available, it can be seen as a positive trait that the CoEs have
managed to mobilise such a high degree of SF financing and have thus been able to better
utilise public financing more generally in an effective fashion. Nevertheless, over-reliance on
Structural Funds financing can however prove to be problematic in the longer term.
The current dependence on Structural Funds financing (both ERDF and ESF) is an aspect of
CoE financing in some cases. Though this can be taken as a positive indication of improved
absorption of Structural Funds financing and as an indication of the fact that European
Structural funding is used in effective, productive and useful ways that seem to service the
business community quite well, one may want to consider the post-2006 situation as
potentially problematic in this respect. One can thus pose the question of what will take the
place of this funding source once enlargement takes place, and European Structural Funds
are no longer available (at least to a comparable degree) in Finland, as currently 16% of the
total programme funding comes from the Structural funds. The idea that national programmes
are developed as an effective means of replacing European programmes (if that should be
required) only stands as far as alternative national financing sources are available.
Additionality in the Finnish regional policy is to be tested ion final instance at the end of the
current programming period.
The one source of funding that is used to a surprisingly limited degree is the European (and
the national) R&D funding stream. Only 4% of the total funding utilised by the centres today
comes from European R&D funding sources (such as the 6th Framework Programme), indeed
even national sources of technology funding have not been used to the extent that one would
expect, especially if one looks at the national average in these terms (national technology
financing 15%). This is of course worrying when we consider that internationally competitive
technology expertise is what the programme is all about and one would thus expect
international funding to be routinely utilised. While the total percentage of European R&D
funding in the programme is merely 4%, while even national R&D funding only amounts to
15%, there are some centres and specific industrial branches that differ considerably in this
respect from the overall picture.
The financial picture also gives some indication of the networking activity behind it, as regards
the actors that have been committed enough to support CoE-projects in the regions in
question. Therefore the financial nuances of the programme have relevance far beyond mere
economic efficiency and management questions. The traditional industries rate quite well
when it comes to utilising national technology funding, which is unsurprising in light of the
broad selection of technology programmes financed by TEKES (approximately 40 in 2003). It
is quite natural that in those cases where the role of TEKES-financing is important the
branches are such that they are included in the technology programmes and in relative terms
in centres where there were more than one area of expertise that is also included in one of
the big technology programmes (e.g. Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Turku or Satakunta). In
light of the expressed need to better co-ordinate the different policy instruments and financing
sources on the national level, one would in fact expect the technology programmes and CoEs
to be even better co-ordinated (e.g. only such new areas of expertise where there is at that
point also a simultaneous introduction of a technology programme).
The role of FDI and the MNCs in the Finnish economy (e.g. Pajarinen, Rouvinen and Ylä-
Anttila 1998, 83-101) is also relevant here from the point of view of the CoE programme,
though in terms of promoting endogenous development within the programmes implemented
in the regions, it is the SMEs that are most central. In terms of the whole economy however it
is clear that the imbalance between the extensive outward FDI and lagging inward FDI
Centres of Expertise
Total funding
30 %
Ministry of the Interior 4 %
Ministry of
Education 5 % VTT
1 %
7 %
14 %
Other EU
4 %
8 %
8 %
9 %
Regional councils/Other
ministries/Other public
10 %
renders the national economy very sensitive to MNC’s strategies (ibid, 85). In the
implementation of the CoE programme it seems particularly important to strike a balance
between involving the SME’s in their central (regional) role, while at the same time getting the
MNCs and big business on board: for the SME’s and micro businesses that form the clear
majority of most CoEs it is viewed as important that the bigger businesses that work as sub-
contractors for, and that are major sources of, innovation are however also present in
developing the implementation of the programme. There is also an important status aspect to
the role of the MNCs’, as their presence is often important in convincing potential financiers of
the credibility of the programme, giving it the added kudos of association with “internationally
competitive top expertise”. For promoting innovation capacity in the regions however the
SMEs remain in the key position.
While most of the businesses that have participated in the projects organised as a part of the
CoE programme represent the SMEs sector, the role of big business is equally central in
some regional networks. This is more likely to be dependent on the nature of the cluster or
industry, rather than the region as such, though regional patterns of co-operation (or the lack
thereof) may at times also play a role. By far the greatest focus is on the SMEs, though the
universities and development associations and similar organisations are also important target
groups when looking at the total picture on the programme level. The network analysis
undertaken as part of the evaluation exercise (Lähteenmäki et al. 2003, 159-164) provided
further information as to which types of actors within the CoE field are most central and how
things have developed during the programming period in this regard.
The first stage of developing the program (especially during the 1994-1999 programming
period) was marked by the centrality of the public authorities that made the original financing
decisions (regional councils, municipalities and state regional authorities), which is typical for
such a policy initiative. Moreover, during the first programming period it emerged that there
were extremely weak links between businesses and universities, as well as between the
universities and polytechnics. This is where the main changes took place before the
commencement of the second programming period. First of all the centrality of CoE-
organisations themselves became more pronounced and they emerged as the facilitators
between the different actors. The contacts and interaction between businesses, universities
and polytechnics also increased considerably. Regional development organisations thus
emerged as the key actors in organising contacts and networks. In relative terms the most
significant increases in contacts were recorded in respect of polytechnics and third sector
organisations (“out-degree centrality”), who have taken a much more pro-active role in CoE-
related activities. Businesses and polytechnics were among those organisations that were on
the recipient side in terms of increased contacts (“in-degree centrality”) When the different
actors were asked about their wishes in terms of future contacts, polytechnics, universities
and regional development organisations emerged as key actors, while the traditional sources
of regional development financing (regional councils and state regional authorities) seemed to
have less potential in terms of increasing future interactions. This is likely to reflect the fact
that as alternative sources of financing have emerged from within the business sector, and
much of the responsibility for projects is now taken up by the regional development
organisations, polytechnics and universities, these are the actors that are now destined to
become more central in developing the future content of the programme.
The strategic role of the Centres is central to regional innovation policy, but the CoEs are
equally dependent on the vast array of external resources and on the degree of mobilisation
available within the region in order to achieve synergies with the regional innovation policy
field as a whole. It is hardly surprising then that different actors participate in the project
activities of CoEs for different reasons. Some of the motivations are elaborated upon in the
table below.
Level of activity
and strategic
Target group /
Objective Instruments
The need to achieve (and
maintain) international
Innovation, Branch-specific expertise International level
competitiveness, which
in turn requires regional
competitiveness Co-operation and networking Organisational openness, interaction
capacity, strategic location on the
international stage
Identification and
instrumentalisation of regional
strengths to promote regional
Promotion and renewal of
expertise and innovation capacity
The CoE programme as a whole,
national and European regional
programmes (and the strategic planning
activities they require)
Strategic goal setting
Increasing regional
attractiveness (in order to attract
investments and expertise)
National level
Sector- and branch-
specific goals
Improved cross-sectoral co-
operation, a wider and deeper
expertise base
Attracting project funding (incl.
Higher education Improved quality of information
transfer, identification of research
needs and funding opportunities
Project funding and decentralisation of
higher education institutions
Administration Improvement of regional strategy
delivery, Improved image,
Efficiency of administrative
practices and service provision
Formulation of a regional consensus
improving effectiveness of strategic
activities, Organizational learning and
‘Ambiguous interfaces’ – new practices
and partnerships emerging through
functional needs and novel pathways
Regional level
Businesses Competitiveness,
Establishment of regional/local
brands, focusing of business
activities in an efficient way
New products and innovations, improved
channels for communication and service
provision, ‘Ambiguous interfaces’ – new
practices and partnerships emerging
through functional needs and novel
Higher education Quality and competitiveness,
innovation capacity
Sustainability of educational
‘Ambiguous interfaces’ – new practices
and partnerships emerging through
functional needs and novel pathways
Administration Effectiveness of service provision
and efficiency of management
Sustainability in terms of
administrative structures and
local communities as
social/administrative entities
‘Ambiguous interfaces’ – new practices
and partnerships emerging through
functional needs and novel pathways
Local level
Businesses Quality and competitiveness,
innovation capacity,
Financial / economic
Project funding, educational activities
personal level
Personal stratification
and learning as part of
Welfare and well-being
New jobs, career and educational
opportunities, building and maintaining
social capital resources
The social capital resources referred to in the table were not evaluated in the evaluation
project, as this seemed to go beyond the scope of the exercise, though their potential
relevance was acknowledged. Social capital can be seen to be inherent to the national and
regional decision- and policy-making processes and structures and as such can also impact
on the networking resources available. If we think of social capital as consisting of knowledge
resources, identity resources and consolidated resources (e.g. Falk & Harrison 1998, 13) it
might interesting in the future to look closer at how such stores of social capital can be built,
maintained and promoted through policy initiatives such as the CoE-programme.
Needless to say the programme gathers together such a variety of regions and branches that
it is pointless to compare them with each other or to place them in any kind of ranking list
order. The diversity of challenges and opportunities for the CoEs are such that the evaluation
chose rather to place specific emphasis on charting the development and profile of each
centre individually. In this respect, cluster comparisons are more appropriate, that is to say,
an approach that seeks to identify the common problems and challenges facing the CoEs as
a particular type of development programme or industrial/innovation policy instrument.
In planning the evaluation the research team also relied upon previous work undertaken on
the CoEs, indeed, recent evaluations of the technology centres (Mäki & Sinervo 2001) and an
evaluation of the financial side of the programme undertaken by the State Auditors’ Office
(Valtiontalouden Tarkastusvirasto 2001) were particularly useful sources in this regard. In the
report by the state auditors’ office for instance the role of the CoEs was analysed as mainly
representing three alternative types: Creator of strategy; Co-ordinator or operative actor; and
Networker/Creator of co-operation (ibid, 35). This was also utilised as a starting point in
defining the roles of the CoEs in the evaluation presented here. The strategic and networking
roles were however seen to develop over time, with the balance between the different roles
necessarily moving from a (mere) co-ordination or operationalisation role (through the
establishment of the necessary organisational structures and the mobilisation of sufficient
resources for the functioning of the CoEs) to strategic and networking roles. Both of these can
be viewed as important even from an early however, as the mobilisation of financial resources
for instance requires a certain shared purpose based on a strategic awareness while though
the networking role can also be viewed as important from an early stage, it is more likely to
intensify and move beyond the limited regional context over time.
2 Some of the key conclusions of the interim evaluation
The main roles of the Centres of Expertise identified in the interim evaluation of the CoE
programme were analysed in three dimensions as follows:
Centres of Expertise as actors developing innovation policy and businesses
Centres of Expertise as cooperation networks
Centres of Expertise as part of regional development
The main conclusions relating to these roles are presented below, together with an answer to
the question of how the impact of the CoEs and their fields of expertise, as well as the
implementation of the Centres of Expertise Programme itself could be further reinforced.
1. The CoEs play a central role in developing regional innovation policy, and they can realise
considerable potential through human resources, organisations and networking.
Relevance of the activities: good staff motivation and staff who work for
the implementation of the programme.
The CoE organisations have brought together regional bodies
implementing innovation policy in various advisory committees and
management and expert groups, and have created a framework for
effective communication between the bodies.
The CoEs that have been implementing the programme for some time now
already have a well-established status, and the programme is also
nationally recognised among parties involved in industrial policy and in
regional development. This fact can be utilised when extending the CoEs
activities and making them better known. The Centres should however be
made even more recognisable at the regional level, particularly within the
business community.
2. Networking and cooperation can be further improved with the help of the above -
mentioned strengths. At present, the situation concerning cooperation is as follows:
Cooperation between the Centres and the fields of expertise must be
further increased.
Internationalisation is still modest, and is often also dependent on
individual people.
The central role of businesses, polytechnics and development
organisations in the activities of the CoEs was clearly underlined as a new
element in the network analysis of the evaluation. Together with the
operational management, these bodies will play an important role in
various advisory committees and the CoE organisations in future.
Many Centres emphasised that insufficient resources were available for
monitoring and development work, internal evaluation, and as a general
rule, for activities defined as pro-active. The same problem can also be
identified in respect of cooperation projects between the Centres; basic
funding does not as such offer sufficient financing possibilities for their
future development. In this respect cooperation between the Centres
should be supported through national coordination (both through the
Working Group on the Centres of Expertise and a national development
project) in order to reinforce their activities and to avoid overlap.
Cooperation based on the fields of expertise and on joint development
measures is particularly important in this respect.
From the CoE’s own point of view, further utilisation of the TekelNytOske
database could also prove to be a significant resource. The risk with
reporting procedures and monitoring is that monitoring will simply lead to
an increase in the number of actual projects rather than to a deepening of
their content. The utilisation of quality factors must therefore play a central
role in monitoring and in the development of activities.
3. The relationship between the Centres of Expertise Programme and the other instruments
of regional development needs to be more clearly specified in future. In its present form, the
programmatic content of the CoE model is not emphasised - on the one hand, because of the
modest level of CoE basic funding, and on the other, because of the lack of a clear
programmatic structure. Conceptually, it would be better to talk of a national Centres of
Expertise ‘strategy’ which would help to implement a number of measures promoting
expertise by means of several separate financial instruments. Another alternative would be to
talk of a national Centres of Expertise network, in which the Ministry of the Interior and a
broadly based working group would play a central co-ordinating role.
The Centres of Expertise Programme has had a significant impact on jobs, businesses,
innovation and training. To further improve its impact, the coordination and interaction of
various instruments of innovation and industrial policy must be reinforced in the regions in
addition to the effective national coordination of sectors. To improve the impact and reinforce
the content of activities, further emphasis must be placed on supporting cooperation projects
based on fields of expertise and on cooperation projects between the Centres themselves.
According to the evaluation, the programme is, as a whole, effectively bringing genuine
‘added value’ to the regional innovation system. Examination of the Centres of Expertise and
of the fields of expertise themselves however highlights the need for caution in extending the
programme. If the aim is to make a brand of genuine expertise and then to promote it, and by
so doing to continue to bring about significant positive effects on regional development in the
future, instead of extending the programme, attention should be paid to making the
programme more effective and focused. In its present form (after the budget decision of
autumn 2002), the basic State funding allocated to each CoE will remain relatively small.
Given the wide range of expertise, it has been seen as justified to extend the range of areas
of expertise covered by the programme into a number of so-called ‘softer’ fields, many of
which have a clear potential for growth. Indeed one has already seen an impact in some of
these fields. The operational implementation of the programme however relies predominantly
upon the network of technology centres, and is thus by its very nature then technology-driven
(favouring for example the branding of high technology and technological innovations). Thus,
one of the conclusions of the evaluation is that in future a technology-based programme
should require special grounds for extending into new ’soft’ fields or new instruments of
innovation which are better suited to ’soft fields of expertise’.
3 National programme, regional challenges: the example of R&D investments
The impact of CoE programme on networking and co-operation has been perceived as a
major plus point, and the roles of the centres say a lot about the various ways in which
innovation initiatives such as the CoE programme can be put into practice to build and
develop regional innovation systems. There are however other aspects of the programme that
may require further attention. One of the context indicators that the evaluation looked as was
the R&D development and innovation capacity (both in the more limited sense of actual
patent activity and in terms of organisational innovations within organisations implementing
the programme). In this respect the national innovation system also comes into focus.
The main challenges for innovation and industrial policy in a small country such as Finland
are clear enough, even if we leave aside the demanding geographical conditions, long
distances, sparse population and the concentration of the research and development (R&D)
resources. The Finnish experience however does in most cases seem to confirm broader
European patterns suggesting that the regional gaps between RTDI-investments and that the
concentration of RTDI -activities in the more dynamic regions is a key aspect of the ‘virtuous
circle’ as regards growth, competitiveness and employment. This makes the impact and
potential relevance of available policy instruments such as the CoE programme on regional
innovation activities and R&D all the more interesting: can this type of activity provide a
necessary, though insufficiently developed element in not only achieving growth but also in
promoting convergence. (Or: is the divergence and lack of convergence a necessary
prerequisite for innovation and endogenous growth?) These issues are among those
dimensions of the evaluation that could most profit from a further analysis.
We can also simply look at the situation of R&D funding and ask whether major changes have
in fact taken place. Based on the statistical analysis of the regions participating in the
programme, as well as on the results of their project activities, it is clear that all regions have
improved their innovation capabilities as a consequence of the programme, though there has
been little relative change in terms of their position nationally in this regard. Indeed, between
1995 and 1999 for instance, innovation activity (measured in patent applications) was
dominated by the Helsinki Region, followed by those of Tampere, Jyväskylä, Oulu and Turku.
The increase during this period in terms of innovation was largest in Tampere, followed by
Jyväskylä. R&D investment was also dominated by the “big 5”. More interesting however was
the issue of development in the “medium-sized” centres, where relative growth in terms of
R&D investment was important.
The impact of the CoEs on job-creation and business turnover in the chosen areas of
expertise, as well as in different regions varied greatly. Such variations undoubtedly however
are due more to differences in economic trends and to the nature of the industrial branches in
question than to the impact of any particular policy instrument as such. While almost all
chosen areas of expertise managed to achieve positive results between 1998 and 2000, there
were only four regions that achieved a very significant (over 25%) growth in terms of job-
creation. These were Northern Ostrobothnia / Oulu (Information technology, with 38%
growth), Central Finland / Jyväskylä (ICT, with 37% growth) and South East Finland /
Lappeenranta (ICT, 31 % growth). North Karelia / Joensuu was the only region that managed
to achieve a growth level of over 25% when measured in employment terms in a non-ICT
area of expertise, i.e. in polymer technology and tooling.
In terms of business turnover the picture looked even more positive, with a total of 11
branches (out of the total 35) achieving over 25% growth in the period 1998-2000. Relative
growth was once again greatest in the IT field, with Oulu Region reaching a growth rate of a
staggering 366% (IT did grow elsewhere as well, though not by nearly as much, i.e. in South
East Finland +84%, Helsinki region +43%). Tampere region with its automation cluster
accounted for the second largest growth rate in turnover terms, with 247% growth between
1998 and 2000. In addition to ICT and automation, there are some other important growth
clusters which do not perhaps make media headlines quite as often, though they are worth
our attention as their growth in turnover has been significant during the first half of the current
programming period. These include biotechnology (over 25% growth in the Turku and
Helsinki regions), energy (32% growth in Ostrobothnia / Vaasa, 26% growth in Central
Finland / Jyväskylä), cultural business and new media (55% growth in the Helsinki region), as
well as food production (Southern Ostrobothnia / Seinäjoki, 34% growth).
Naturally we should take these results with a pinch of salt. Such developments in industrial
clusters are the result of a variety of factors, of which public intervention in general and the
CoE programme in particular is but one small part. Scepticism should be tempered to some
extent however when we consider the nature of the programme as one of prioritising,
focussing and channelling development resources (both public and private) and seeking to
identify future growth clusters. The actors who participated in the survey undertaken as part of
the evaluation process viewed the impact of the programme for the most part in a very
positive light, and the priorities set in regional terms were seen as justified and useful. It is
also important to take note of the relevance (in relative terms) and perception of the ‘value
added’ of the programme in the regions in question. Based on a survey of CoE stakeholders,
where the respondents were asked about their perceptions in respect of the different effects
of the programme in the region, the overall results were positive. The most important effects
of the programme were identified as the strengthening of expertise and of the technological
base, as well as renewing industrial structures in the regions. Important effects were also
found in the area of improving the ability to utilise the national and European sources of R&D
funding. Improving regional attractiveness was also identified as an important effect of the
programme, particularly in regions where expertise has been used as an important element of
regional strategies and profiling (Oulu, Tampere, Turku and Jyväskylä are rated highest in this
While the quantitative analysis and surveys with the stakeholders gave more critical results in
the most peripheral small centres concentrating on ’soft’ areas of expertise
(Lapland/Rovaniemi and Kuhmo), it would be incorrect to argue that these centres have failed
in their objectives. In the case of Rovaniemi’s ‘experience industry’ branch for instance
development has been positive both in terms of personnel and business turnover in 1998-
2000, while the Kuhmo CoE has achieved both direct and indirect effects from the
implementation of the programme. It is however clear that the CoE programme is an urban
policy instrument, more suited for growth centres with well -developed innovation structures.
In this respect it is to be expected that the natural limits to growth – in terms of the number of
centres – will be reached relatively soon: though positive effects can no doubt be achieved in
all regions in terms of developing the endogenous resources and potential for regional
development and innovation, internationally competitive top-ranked ‘expertise’ can only be
found in highly specialised regions with a relatively advanced innovation system. Competence
development is naturally important in all regions and localities, but in cases where the aims
are less ambitious than internationally competitive expertise, other policy instruments should
probably be implemented in the pursuit of such goals so as to maintain the high status of the
CoEs and to develop the programme in a dynamic way.2
4 Beyond regional borders: networking, innovation and networking innovations across
The examples discussed earlier in the paper come from different types of CoEs and include
an initiative in respect of internationalisation beyond CoE borders, strategic networking within
the tourism sector and programmatic co-operation between functional regions across CoE
borders. As has been argued previously the main limitations of the program currently include
the lack of co-operation and project activities across CoE and regional borders and the limited
extent to which internationalisation has so far taken place. The examples referred to here
have all tried to deal with these limitations of the program activities and to open the program
to the outside through novel approaches to project activity. The stakeholders interviewed in
the evaluation have all defined the initiatives described below as essentially strategic
innovations and they have an impact on developing new forms of interaction and mutual
support in networking in the cases in question. The strategic nature of innovations is quite
natural both because of the fact that the program’s value added has been identified as largely
strategic in nature, and because of the fact that the innovations that are perhaps most sorely
missing are organisational innovations and ways of developing and improving organisational
learning through out the program structures.
4.1 The Internationalisation efforts of the IT-sector: national or regional clusters?
The ICT sector is one of the most important clusters in Finland, and the ‘value added’ brought
by the CoE-programme in this respect lies most of all in creating synergies and co-operation
between the regional clusters in Finland. The growth of the ICT sector has been in a league of
its own, as we have seen, between 1998 and 2000 growth (in terms of turnover) in the ICT
cluster in the Oulu region was 365,8% and in Tampere it was only a slightly less impressive
247,1%. During the same time period the growth rates in the ICT sector in Helsinki and
Jyväskylä were slightly more modest, though still considerable: 43,4% in Helsinki and 17,7%
in Jyväskylä. Moreover, employment impact growth was equally considerable, with
employment in the ICT sector in Jyväskylä for instance reaching 54,4% in this short time
(Oulu 45,2%). As far as growth clusters are concerned, ICT was the 1990s ‘boom industry’,
2 The status aspects of the programme in the regions and clusters in question should not be overlooked, as they
are likely to be crucial at least in the early stages of programme development in the regions in ensuring that co-
financing is attained to a sufficient degree. As the ‘value added’ of the programme on the other hand is likely to
be smaller in centres with extensive innovation resources, these centres may lose interest in the programme if
the quality and status is not maintained and this would create a vicious circle in terms of eroding the legitimacy
and status of the programme as a whole.
though within the context of an industry-wide downturn in that sector by the turn of the century
alternative clusters have also gained centrality, with concerns that the one-sidedness of the
Finnish industrial and innovation system of the late-1990s may in fact limit the possibilities for
renewal and for alternative paths in the future.
Business growth rates, the employment impact etc. are however only one side of the coin,
with networking, co-operation and strategic capacity taking centre stage in relation to the CoE
policy as a whole. While the networking roles of the CoEs became pronounced all through the
evaluation of the individual CoEs and their regional environments, it became clear in the CoE
profiles, drafted as part of the evaluation, that the networking role of the CoEs was actually
central in the IT-sector. Co-operative projects seeking to support the internationalisation
efforts of the ICT businesses in the regions in question are one part of this strategy.
The Global Software –initiative seeks to address the needs of SMEs in the area of business
development, marketing and networking internationally, by providing instruments for the
leading Finnish software companies who are investigating or targeting US markets. The goal
of the programme is for each of the 20 participating companies to have a strategic customer,
partner or investor in the US. The programme, which was launched in 1998 as “Pilot
Software” has been developed as a collaborative effort between Oulu and Jyväskylä CoEs
and the courses that are developed within it are “learning by doing”- instruments based on a
model consisting of 6 modules and 24 day programmes where half of the courses are
undertaken in the US. Thus far a total of 60 businesses have participated in the activities and
the geographical focus has been broadened to include other CoEs with ICT-related areas of
expertise (in addition to the original partners in Jyväskylä and Oulu, SMEs from Tampere,
Kuopio and Helsinki regions now also participate).
This initiative is based on the centrality and dominance of US companies in the software
industries, as currently approximately 80% of the software sold globally originates from the
US. Instead of concentrating on developing nationally targeted activities and programme
instruments one thus needs to be aware of, and then seek to tap into, the business
opportunities available for Finnish companies in this sector. The areas covered by the
programme include markets and marketing, business models, growth, financing, strategies,
management, supply networks, as well as strategic partnerships. Networking between the
Finnish companies and their American counterparts, as well as creating links with the
financers, technology partners, legal experts and potential customers is an important aspect
of the activities undertaken within the programme. Individually targeted consultancy in respect
of promoting the best strategic ways in which to take the first steps into US markets is thus
also an important part of the activities of this programme. The starting point of the initiative
lies in seeking to tap the resources and expertise that the Finnish software companies have in
their business competence with those areas that may not yet be as developed, including
aspects of their internationalisation strategies.
4.2 Novel areas of expertise – the ‘experience industry’ as a potential cluster
The example of project activity in networking and organizational innovation from Rovaniemi
region in turn provides a different perspective on the ‘value added’ of CoEs and networking.
The idea here has been to build a cluster where it was only weakly defined previously and to
create synergies by incorporating all the relevant actors in the network and also providing a
decision-making structure which ensures the co-ordination of all of the different policy tools
when it comes to targeting tourism and the ‘experience industry’ as a growth cluster in the
region. The idea of a programme contract, signed by over 25 key actors in the regional
industrial policy sphere covers all projects under the experience industry umbrella in 2001-
2006, with the idea being to better integrate the different sub-sections of the ‘experience
industry’ cluster within the CoE programme. The task at hand involves the creation or
establishment of the ‘experience industry’ as a cluster in the sense that unlike most CoE
clusters, indeed notwithstanding the fact that the cluster does not have a long history behind
it, nor is it firmly established in industrial terms, rather there is a need to make the cluster
visible and thus recognised across the region and nationally in order to ensure that its
potential is fully utilized.
The ‘experience industry’ to a certain extent reflects the ambiguities of post-industrial society
where we have moved beyond the simple consumption of goods and products to instead the
consumption of experiences. This requires that the industries are able to provide consumers
with a new type of service, which is more experience-based and participatory in nature rather
than being produced, supplied and packaged as a service and consumed in the traditional
sense. This also has an important impact on the supplier’s perspective. Suppliers of goods
typically see themselves as manufacturers, while service suppliers predominantly see
themselves as providers. As has been elaborated upon by for instance Pine and Gilmour
(1999), the companies that wish to offer their customers an experience need to see
themselves as stagers of events with the emphasis on ‘events’ and the need to design
activities as sets or props with a new type of dialogue scripting that allows for interactive
participation. It is expected by Pine and Gilmour that these types of services will be more
susceptible to ‘soft’ factors such as networking, trust and bonding rather than relying on the
traditional or static production and supply model.
The way in which the organization and construction of the cluster has been pursued is rather
different from that of the traditional technology areas generally included within the CoE’s
ambit of activity. The ‘experience industry’ is made up of four key areas: tourism, new media,
content production and design. Within these fields decisions on project funding are made
within the programme contract where different types of projects are integrated into coherent
wholes and different funding sources are targeted in an integrated fashion. Partnership and
the integrated utilization of financing sources are priorities and the representation of the CoE
in all project decision-making, (even in other programme frameworks such as the Structural
Funds) is seen as a prerequisite as regards making the ‘experience industry’ a regional
priority. (In practice this means that the steering group of the CoE is to be consulted in other
project funding decisions) The aim has thus been to prioritise cross-regional projects.
In terms of the programme results the qualitative aspects of achieving closer networking and
strategic awareness are positive, though the difficulties of establishing a new cluster beyond
that of the traditional tourism industry are also well understood. In the areas of new media
and design the thinness of the cluster (e.g. the small number of businesses) is an obvious
problem in achieving sufficient breadth and enlarging the market. There is however some
growth to be seen in terms of businesses, jobs and turnover so it may still be too early to
judge whether the CoE has succeeded in its quantitative goal setting. Internationalisation can
be seen as a dual process: if considered in terms of international investment and funding,
achievements are still modest (though it is worth noting that Rovaniemi has been in the CoE-
programme only during the second programming period, i.e. since 1999), but on the other
hand the extensive utilization and incorporation of international experts in CoE projects has
been positive. As is the case with most new and small CoEs, the ‘added value’ of CoE lies
mostly on the strategic side (in the first instance), though also the improved ability to mobilize
(other than CoE) resources and financing to a shared strategic goal has been a major
advantage of the programme for these regions.
As argued previously, little has actually changed in terms of the regional innovation capacity,
especially in terms of the patent activities, while R&D financing has also, in relative terms,
changed little over the period in question. Lapland as a region accounts for 1% of patents
and though in absolute terms the growth in R&D funding has been important, it has done little
to change Lapland’s relative position nationally. Growth in terms of the mobilization of
resources (not merely financial) and project activity has been important, though the areas of
expertise are such that the improvements in terms of the quantitative indicators (between
1999 and 2002) are quite modest (no new businesses thus far, only less than 10 jobs etc.).
This does not however give us the whole picture as regards achievement, as the levels of
strategic awareness and closer co-operation between businesses (not traditionally
necessarily very co-operative, as most are small or micro businesses and they tend to see
each other more as competitors than anything else) and the public authorities for instance has
naturally been reflected more generally in other than CoE activities (the growth of the tourism
sector in the region has been stable all through the 1990s; e.g. Turkia 2001, 14). The
qualitative aspects also need to be taken into account and networking, strategic awareness
and new forms of co-operation within the region are important in this regard. What this does
however indicate is that a programme that has been drafted with traditional industries and
technology branches in mind may require some new instruments and working methods in
order to tap the potential growth resources of less traditional and less technology-driven areas
of expertise.
4.3 Cross-border clustering in South-Eastern Finland
In Lappeenranta and the surrounding regions CoE programme have been implemented since
1994, with the focus gradually moving towards the creation of genuinely cross-regional
activities within the CoE context. The areas of expertise have included high technology metal
structures, key systems for the forestry industry and logistics and expertise on Russia. Due to
the centrality of the forest and metal industries within the traditional Finnish growth clusters,
the Kareltek technology Centre which operationalises the programme has been able to utilise
the well-established resources and networks within these industrial areas, while at the same
time renewing industrial development and seeking to enlarge the impact of the centre
geographically. The challenges faced by the centre lie in creating innovation and renewal in
these traditional areas of industry. This is one of the reasons for the development of the CoE
profile in a more technology foresight-oriented direction. The geographical extension of focus
can equally be seen as an element of the longer-term pursuit of this strategy.
The CoE functions across regional borders in that it incorporates both Southern Karelia
(Etelä-Karjala) and Kymenlaakso regions into its activities and brings together a total of
twenty-seven municipalities (and four functional regions). While this wider geographical focus
may be explainable by the (decentralised) nature of the industries in question, there is also an
element of strategic thinking behind it. This in itself is important if only for the reason that in
most CoEs there are clear difficulties in extending the impact of CoEs beyond the main urban
region or even the single leading municipality in the region. The cross-border approach can
thus be seen as something that requires clear strategic choices in terms of the wider
operationalisation of the programme.
5 In lieu of conclusions
The main challenges with a centrally drafted innovation policy instrument are necessarily
linked to the nature of the clusters involved, as well as to the divergence of the regions
implementing the programme. The desirable label of “endogenous growth” can only be
realised if the specificities of the industrial base are carefully taken into consideration.
Organisational innovations that can achieve and support innovation and the absorption
capacity of the CoEs can be treated as best practices from which lessons can be drawn, and
from which “learning-by-doing” tools can subsequently be developed. Yet the differences in
regional innovation systems and their various resource bases may make it difficult to draw
conclusions even in the (relatively homogenous) Finnish context. This then begs the question
of international learning in this respect: is there anything that policy instruments such as the
CoE can teach other countries or regions about how to pursue and support regional
innovation capacity through public policy means (or even – what to avoid if this is your goal)?
Is there anything worth replicating in the Finnish model and what could be achieved by
attempting to replicate experiences and “best practices” from different institutional and cultural
environments? Instead of asking the old question of do institutions matter, we perhaps should
then be asking how much do institutional differences matter? Can public policy initiatives
provide a fruitful ground for organisational learning and how much learning does this expect of
the public institutions themselves? Though this was only a small side line to the evaluation
and to the project described above it does nonetheless seem that the value of benchmarking
exercises remains at best limited, as the nature of social capital, networking and the
acceptance of consensual policy-making determines to a great extent how far organisational
learning can be promoted.
Finally it is argued here that the nature of such regional innovation networks needs to be
considered both as a regionally and as a nationally specific phenomenon, it is therefore also
susceptible to regional and national policy initiatives and influences. The influence of cluster-
specific differences should however not to be overlooked either: regional innovation networks
are not only dependent upon the nature and quality of knowledge transfer, but they are also
dependent upon the nature of the national cluster or industrial field in question. Therefore the
instruments needed to best promote network-building need to be understood as constrained
by both regionally specific and cluster-specific preconditions and environments.
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... The focus in this programme is specifically on innovation and business development. Private partners are strong in this programme, providing both expertise and funding (Lähteenmäki-Smith, 2003). ...
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The increasing globalisation of markets has changed the environment of European companies drastically. Not only on foreign markets but also on their home market they are confronted with intensive price, time and quality competition. To stay competitive European companies have to restructure their business organisation, including innovation activities as well as consumer and supplier relationships. Obviously such companies are much more successful in regaining global competitiveness, if they benefit from the specific advantage of their environment. Companies that have reacted specifically to different environments have been more successful than others who believed in “one best way” of organising business (Kern 1994). Due to intensive global competition, companies are forced to look for the most supportive environment world wide. Their restructuring process is therefore directed by the concept of product specialisation. This is not only true for big companies but also for medium sized firms. Companies organise their production and innovation process on a global scale, taking advantage of the specific resources of different territories. New transport and information technologies facilitate the global organisation of the companies’ production and innovation process. As production becomes more science based, advantages such as developed research infrastructure, a highly qualified workforce or an innovative culture are becoming more important than natural resources, which means that a supportive environment for innovative companies can deliberately be created. To become attractive for companies territories can set up specific institutions to support their innovation strategies. It is often claimed that “region states” are more appropriate to design a supportive environment than nation states (Cooke 1994a; Cooke 1994b). In this context Ohmae (1993) argues, that in an increasingly borderless world the nation state becomes dysfunctional, instead the region state is the natural economic zone. Region states represent genuine communities of economic interests, define meaningful flows of economic activities and can take advantage of true linkages and synergies among economic actors. Regions have to seek competitive advantage from mobilising all their assets including institutional and governmental ones where these exist, or demand them where they do not. As regions become more specialised and pull the institutional support structure along so foreign direct investment seeks out such centres of expertise by following domestic investment as part of global locational strategy. Thus it is important to show how the to and for of adjustment between companies, public authorities, research institutes, training institutions and social partners is transforming each, while creating the elements of an innovative framework that may encompass and stabilise them all (Sabel 1994).
Die Märkte zeichnen sich durch eine verstärkte Emotionalisierung aus. In der Marketingliteratur sind dies Themen von „Experiences, „Experience Economy“, „Dreams“, „Geschichten“. Sie erheben den Anspruch, etwas absolut neues zu sein. Bei genauerem Hinsehen aber sind solche Konzepte meist nichts anderes, als die Fortführung dessen, was die Sozialwissenschaften bereits in den 80er Jahren festgehalten hatten: Dass bei jedem Konsum materielle und immaterielle Bedürfnisse erfüllt werden. Eigenschaften, die die Emotionalisierung kennzeichnen, sind heute schon Teil des aktuellen Marketingverständnisses. Sie unterstützen die beziehungsorientierte Stärkung von Transaktionen, die die Basis von langfristigen und langfristig einzigartigen Austauschprozessen zu Kunden bildet. Ziel dabei ist, der Unternehmung einen dauerhaften Wettbewerbsvorteil zu sichern.