31.10.2019/ Bailey Lähdesmäki
At the Final Seminar (Loppuseminaari) of the Savilahti Open Innovation Ecosystem Project (Savilahden innovaatioalusta – selvityshanke) on October 25, 2019, nearly 100 people gathered to celebrate the completion of the project. Started in 2016, the project’s date of completion is October 31, 2019. To celebrate the successful project and everyone’s great efforts, participants had the opportunity to hear from presenters from both the public and private sectors.
The project was funded by the ESF (European Social Fund, ESR Euroopan sosiaalirahasto) and led by the University of Eastern Finland (UEF, Itä-Suomen yliopisto) in collaboration with numerous other organizations in the Savo region. Although originally led by UEF, the project was later outsourced to Kasve Oy. The main goals of the project were to find common ground between the organizations, create a strategic vision for the health technology field, and develop an open innovation ecosystem. As a result, the Kuopio Health co-operative was officially established in April 2019.
Even though the co-op was just recently established, the need and desire for such a network was discussed for many years. The city of Kuopio, and the whole Savo region, is extremely strong in the health and wellness field thanks to the local world-class educational institutions, nationally acclaimed teaching hospital, and large successful health companies. Organizations in the region, both public and private, collaborate very well together, but there was the need to have a more structured entity to support the area’s health and wellness expertise.
“There is such a talented pool of expertise in the region, so we need a platform that connects the industry demands with people like researchers and students,” Mikko Juuti says, Manager of BusinessKuopio’s Invest In services. Juuti has been involved in the project from the beginning, first as the Project Manager at UEF and then as an active participant, so he has witnessed the project’s impressive journey. He adds, “Kuopio Health can be the place and network that helps new innovations be ideated and grow into larger projects, and even launched in the market to the benefit of industries, hospitals, and schools.”
Determining the needs of the users and the desired results were the first steps. “The second step was to think about what the operational model of Kuopio Health should be, so we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of organization, and we finally decided on a co-operative,” says Jukka Jurvelin, Dean of UEF’s Faculty of Science and Forestry. The team considered options like a private company, association, or co-operative. “We chose a co-operative as the best option because it would be easier for both private companies and public organizations to join Kuopio Health, plus less bureaucracy to run it,” Jurvelin explains.
After the co-operative was established in April 2019, members from the public and private sectors were able to officially join and Kuopio Health really started to operate, but how it would function after the project ended needed to be considered. Aki Gröhn was hired as Kuopio Health’s CEO and started in the position on September 1, 2019, ready to pull Kuopio Health forward. “It’s no longer a development project, so our next step is to build the right strategy for the co-op because the Kuopio Health co-op is different from the Kuopio Health ecosystem,” Gröhn states. “We need to be sure we’re doing the right things and going in the right directions, and that means figuring out what the Kuopio Health co-op is and is not because it simply cannot be and do everything,” he elaborates when telling about Kuopio Health’s strategic development.
As with most successful ventures, building the Kuopio Health co-op and the entire open innovation ecosystem is not a sprint, but more like a mini marathon. It doesn’t happen quickly or easily, and it takes a collaborative effort from multiple players. “We know one thing for sure – events like the Final Seminar where participants can hear from interesting speakers and network with others is certainly one of the key things the Kuopio Health co-op wants to do,” Gröhn adds. Presenters included Jukka Jurvelin from UEF, Kalle Piirainen from 4Front, Paul Dunne from Hovione, Inka Mero from Voima Ventures, and Petteri Jääskeläinen from Savonia with Jouko Miettinen from the City of Kuopio’s Living Lab services.
All the participants and the entire health and wellness community is looking forward to Kuopio Health’s next event.
Bailey Lähdesmäki participated in the Final Seminar event on October 25, 2019 and interviewed Jukka Jurvelin from UEF, Mikko Juuti from the City of Kuopio, and Aki Gröhn from Kuopio Health.