Helsinki Smart Region is the capital region of Finland with 26 municipalities and 1,6 million inhabitants. It has excellent living conditions with four beautiful seasons, 300 km of coastline and highly qualified human capital. Its region has an international airport and four international ports.
More than one-third of Finland’s GDP is generated in the metropolitan region. The region serves an engine for economic growth in the whole country as well as a logistics hub with regard to the international market.
With harsh Nordic weather conditions, an aging population but long traditions in engineering and a die-hard work ethic, we can say that the Helsinki region is a perfect testbed for urban services and activities. If services work here, they will also work elsewhere.
Helsinki region’s smart strategy is updated for 2018-2020
The Helsinki-Uusimaa region has in recent years applied the concept of Smart Specialisation in the development of the region. It is an innovation policy which suggests every country and region should recognize and choose its own strengths and emphasize the chosen areas in its future efforts and investments.
The strategy has now been revisited and its focus is redirected in order to even better serve the region. The most significant change in this update is that two themes, Smart citizen and Welfare city has been merged into a single theme which is now called Citizen city. This has been done as an answer to experience and feedback received during the implementation phase.
The smart specialisation strategy for Helsinki-Uusimaa has been approved by the Regional Board in 2014. This update of the strategy has been approved by the Regional Board in 2017.
Helsinki Smart Region brand highlights the strategy and its outcomes. Helsinkismart.fi website shows the best
examples from the region and invites new partners from all over Europe.
Spearhead industries are sectors that the Helsinki region is known for and which are expected to see rapid growth. The main strengths aka spearhead industries of Helsinki region relate to innovation, digitality, and security. Helsinki region serves as an engine for growth for the whole country and thus has several stength areas. Consequently, Health & wellness, Urban cleantech, Citizen city and Digitalising industry are the region’s spearheds.
As a region that encompasses the Helsinki metropolitan area, knowledge creation takes place in the region’s universities and research institutes, public administration, third sector and private companies in conjunction. The expertise of the people working for these actors gives birth to strong science and research base, new technology and skills. Typically to the region, the citizens’ engagement keep increasing.
Innovation platforms and pilot environments play a key role in the development of regional innovation ecosystems and international competitiveness. They offer channels for collaboration, technology validation and distribution to international markets.
Policy instruments guide innovation activities and in addition direct funding. The smart specialisation strategy is required by the EU Structural Funds.
The strategy is closely connected to the Europe 2020 strategy and its policies and financial instruments and also the funds for the national regional innovation and pilots, called the AIKO-funding. In the future, the funding that supports the implementation of the strategy is directed into activites and pilots in each spearhead and its related activity portfolio. Large-scale smart specialisation projects will be funded by applying a combination of several national and international funding sources.
Kivistö School Path leads children safely to school
In the Nordic countries, children often go to school without an accompanying adult. The resulting safety concerns and children’s own fears could easily be reduced through the means of urban planning.
The Kivistö School Path is a distinctive, child-scale cycling and walking path network designed for the residential district of Kivistö in Vantaa, Finland. Its purpose is to guarantee a safe walk or bike ride from home to school and back.
In the recent years, design students at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences have carried out a number of innovation projects related to a safe school path for children. This gave birth to the School Path concept.
Students design routes for school kids
The aim of the School Path concept is to establish a network of distinctive, child-scale routes that improve safety while walking and cycling to school. In previous school path projects Metropolia students have, for example, mapped children’s fears and wishes regarding school trips and assembled a handbook of elements that constitute a safe path to school. In the Kivistö School Path concept, a school path network based on children’s wishes was designed for the Kivistö Housing Fair area situated the Finnish city of Vantaa (Helsinki Metropolitan Area). The concept contains guidelines that help build optimal routes as well as distinct elements for this particular school path.