Inspired to work in new ways

By Ester Laurell, Contact Point Åland
Published on 2.3.2021
Type of content: Interview

In English

New experiences had to be continued

I found some interesting articles in the archipelago magazine Skärgård, published by Åbo Akademi University, Skärgårdsinstitutet, in December 2020. The theme for this publication was Business and Entrepreneurship (in the archipelago).

The magazine contained some stories about ongoing activities inspired by the Central Baltic project Archipelago Partnership for Business Development (ABD).
The project experiences led to new ways of working and new ways of cooperating in the Turku region and beyond.

"We must keep on using and developing these tools"

I called Hanna Guseff, research manager at Novia University of Applied Sciences in Turku, to learn more. She is responsible for RDI at Business Administration Department at Novia.

- How were you involved in the project Archipelago Partnership for business development, Hanna?

- During the project I worked as a Senior Lecturer at Novia and guided students in their assignments in the project.
The students worked hands-on with archipelago entrepreneurs, helping them with market analysis, marketing, social media, etc.

In the beginning of the project, we arranged business breakfasts, open for all interested, where we talked about the project and the upcoming activities. There was a great interest among small businesses in the archipelago, and we exceeded the expected number of participating companies in the project.

And when it ended, we realized we must keep on using and developing these tools for business development in the region.

Three different new tools for business development in the Turku region

- What did you do?
- There are actually three different continuations of the project experiences.

  1. We started NÅA Business Center, a student managed platform for companies and students to find each other for cooperation. Companies with a specific challenge they want solved, contact us, and the UAS Novia, in cooperation with Åbo Akademi university, find a suitable student group to help the business out. The teachers at Novia or university of ÅA are guiding the first meeting and the process, which grant a good result. This process is unique. The cooperation between companies and students has led to increased access to working life for the students. They know the everyday life of a company and are familiar with many sectors of business thanks to the integrated way of using the studies to support companies in a concrete way. On the other hand, the companies might get concrete help with a challenge or a task they need to solve. The cooperation between students and businesses is a learning process for the students and the results might be very different, but companies are usually content with getting fresh eyes on their business, and a new target group’s point of view on the challenge.
  2. The second tool to be used as a continuum of the ABD project is called SPIRA (growing). It is a regional cooperation between education, research, municipalities, and companies. We have created new ways of cooperating to support and strengthen the region. The cooperation is based on producing knowledge, business development, student cooperation and exchanging experiences. For example, the cooperation has resulted in accelerator programmes for small businesses in the region – the next is coming up in spring 2021, digitally. We have also crossed the language barrier, because companies need to get help in their mother tongue.
  3. The third thing is that Finland thanks to the ABD project has got its first so called Drivhus, as we started Drivhuset Novia, a certain kind of incubator for growing student businesses and strengthen entrepreneurship among students. And the cooperation with our Swedish former project partners continues. 

Much of our business development is linked to our experiences from Archipelago Partnership. I am so pleased, when I hear people being satisfied and thankful to the project. I think we can be proud of our long-term results.

Based on this project, we have created ongoing activities together, reacted to the needs we could observe and see thanks to ABD.  
We have made a difference thanks to Central Baltic funding.