Innovative cities and corporations as builders of ecosystems 

The aim is to create internationally attractive and growth-generating innovation environments in Finland by 2030. This includes concluding ecosystem agreements between the central government and university cities as well creating innovation and skills networks. Both innovation policy instruments will be implemented with co-financing from the European Union’s regional and structural policy funds 2021–2027.

The agreements on the development of innovation ecosystems between the central government, universities and university cities for 2021–2027 contain key strategic priority areas jointly agreed for accelerating the growth ecosystems. The thematic focus areas selected by cities together with key local RDI operators are well suited to the objectives of the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland to promote the green transition and digitalisation. 

Cities invest in joint development – especially closer cooperation between research institutes and companies – to create new ideas and innovative solutions. Cities still have plenty of untapped opportunities, such as the systematic use of large future-oriented investments as development platforms for innovations. Cities are also expected to use their own measures to support the development of local innovation and research infrastructures in the ongoing funding rounds of Business Finland’s programmes to support sustainable growth and the green transition. 

The measures in the ecosystem agreements promote: 

  • Innovation and experimental environments
  • Urban development projects and public procurement as development platforms for innovation activity
  • Joint research and innovation infrastructures
  • Start-up communities and creation of new business ecosystems
  • Strengthening and updating local competence

Operating models:

  • Long-term partnership between the central government and university cities
  • Strategic focus areas for development
  • Close local cooperation between companies, research institutes, educational institutions and cities
  • National and international networking in selected themes

Another national objective is to strengthen cooperation between centres of expertise in the development of growth ecosystems. Resources have been allocated separately to university and university cities (thematic leadership responsibilities) for national and international cooperation and for company-oriented cooperation of regional RDI operators as part of the national innovation and skills networks. 

The innovation and skills networks section encourages local RDI actors – especially research organisations and companies – to engage in closer inter-regional cooperation. The aim is to support the emergence of competence-intensive, new innovation and business ecosystems and business-oriented competence renewal. Broad-based cooperation and transfer of expertise will support the introduction of new technologies and the utilisation of the opportunities it offers in companies. The theme complements ecosystem agreements in university cities and counties' own smart specialisation strategies to achieve knowledge-driven and innovation-driven growth. 

The measures are developed and monitored by a national steering group with representatives from key ministries, cities, higher education institutions, business and industry (Confederation of Finnish Industries and Suomen Yrittäjät), Business Finland, ELY Centres, regional councils and other RDI operators. 

Innovating cities   


Mika Pikkarainen - mika.pikkarainen(at)
Olli Voutilainen - olli.voutilainen(at)