Stronger innovation activities and networks in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Published: 1.6.2022 10.00
 A roundabout depicted from a bird's eye view with adjoining apartment buildings and a playground.
Photo: Antti Kangassalo

The joint innovation package of the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa (HEVi) will strengthen innovation activities and networks in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. HEVI is based on an innovation ecosystem agreement made with the state, within which the cities will create a large project package for urban development and innovation activities in 2021–2027.

The cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are encouraging new projects to build a sustainable city and create preconditions for starting new innovation-driven companies and developing the business of existing companies. The first HEVi project funding call will be opened in cooperation with the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council on 15 August 2022.

“Finland is a small country, but our strength is the ability to do significant things together. This is why the best results in the development of the Metropolitan Area are achieved through good cooperation across municipal boundaries,” says Harri Paananen, Director of Economic Development at the City of Espoo.

Better synergies between projects

It is often challenging to reconcile different approaches and outcomes in large-scale development projects, particularly in packages consisting of several projects. Good lessons were learned in 6Aika – the Six City Strategy for sustainable urban development, implemented by the six largest cities in Finland in 2014–2022.

“We learned a lot about this adaptation work in the 6Aika cooperation, and HEVi is striving for even better synergies between projects. This way, we can create packages that make sense and really make a difference,” Paananen says.

Project funding calls will be opened on themes where development needs and capabilities have been identified. These include smart and sustainable urban solutions, well-being and health technologies as well as new learning environments.

“The Helsinki Metropolitan Area has strong competence centres in both research and business. For example, themes relating to low-carbon and resource-wise solutions are topical and attractive, and so are digital urban solutions,” says Kimmo Viljamaa, Economic Development Director at the City of Vantaa.

“Demand for various welfare-related solutions is also growing, and promoting internationality is essential to the success of business ecosystems. I think it’s a good idea to promote this dimension,” Viljamaa continues.

With the ecosystem agreement, the cities will strengthen the Metropolitan Area’s network of development and experimental environments, innovation and competence centres, and services that develop the business of companies.

“I expect the projects implemented with the help of the ecosystem agreement to be ambitious and open-minded but also bring concrete results. At the same time, I hope that their impact will extend well beyond the end of the projects,” says Kimmo Heinonen, Acting Head of the City of Helsinki’s Innovations and New Experiments unit.

Future innovations and well-being to be developed together

The projects in the joint innovation package will emphasise close cooperation between the cities, companies and research and innovation actors in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

“The ecosystem agreement’s projects will address themes and challenges that will be relevant in the coming years and decades – regionally, nationally and internationally alike,” Heinonen says.

Harri Paananen also emphasises common goals: “HEVi’s ultimate goal is to make the Metropolitan Area a better home for all of us. At the same time, we are taking Finnish innovations out into the world and becoming even better co-creators.”

First project funding call to be opened in August

The first HEVi project funding call will be opened in cooperation with the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council on 15 August 2022. More information on the call is available (in Finnish) on the rakennerahastot.fi(extrernal link) web pages.

Collecting urban development project ideas – contact the cities

The innovation projects will also form a broader package, so the help of the cities in project preparation is important. If you have an idea for a project, please contact us. We can advise you on your project proposal to make sure it is relevant to our programme and that it meets our criteria.

More information about HEVi is available on the website at hevinnovations.fi(extrernal link).

About the ecosystem agreement

Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa signed a joint innovation ecosystem agreement(extrernal link) for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment for 2021–2027. The agreement is part of a wider ecosystem agreement package, which covers a total of 16 agreements with Finnish university cities.

The coordination of operations in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is funded by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council and the cities.

Projects launched through HEVI will be supported by EU project funding. The key themes are:

  1. Smart and sustainable urban solutions
  2. Well-being and health technologies
  3. New learning environments and digital solutions for learning
  4. New initiatives and general ecosystem development

Please contact us regarding project ideas:

  • City of Espoo: Pekka Enroth, pekka.enroth@espoo.fi
  • City of Helsinki: Suvi Hänninen, suvi.hanninen@hel.fi
  • City of Vantaa: Fulvio Rizzo, fulvio.rizzo@vantaa.fi

More information about HEVi available from:

City of Helsinki: Saana Rantsi, saana.rantsi@hel.fi

  • Innovation work
  • Sustainability
  • Urban development