At the meeting of steering group of the project “North Savo Energy Technology RDI Ecosystem” on 4 June 2020, it was decided to establish the North Savo Energy Cluster to support the development of the machine and energy industry which is the region’s most important industrial sector.
Almost 20 companies are already involved in the project: Andritz Oy, FamiFarm Oy, Fescon Oy, Fortum Power & Heat Oy, Fortum Waste Solutions Oy, Freeport Cobalt Oy, Gasmet Technologies Oy, HögforsGST Oy, KPA Unicon Oy, Riikinvoima Oy, Savon Automaatio Oy, Savon Voima Oyj, SMA Mineral Oy, StoraEnso Oyj Varkauden tehtaat, Sumitomo SHI FW Energia Oy and Varkauden Aluelämpö Oy. Savonia University of Applied Sciences, University of Eastern Finland and Navitas Kehitys are the promoters of the ecosystem project. New companies are also welcome to participate in the cluster.
The aim of the North Savo Energy Custer is to improve the opportunities for companies working on energy sector to innovate, take advantage of the services of research institutes, develop products and thereby grow and succeed in international markets as well. In developing and considering the approach between companies and research institutes, the cluster structure was selected based on a pan-European model. The North Savo Energy Cluster will be developed and will operate for the duration of the project “North Savo Energy Technology RDI Ecosystem development” until the end of 2021 within the project. The project will create a strategy, business model and operational process for the cluster and the technical work packages of the project are implemented by the RDI teams.
The establishment of an energy cluster was found to be important and is expected to benefit cooperation between companies, educational institutions, research institutes and other actors in the region and industry, so that all companies can receive the support they need. After the cluster has been established, the North Savo Energy Cluster will be developed as part of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP).
Marko Luokkanen, Vice President of Andritz Pulp&Paper, Chair of the Steering Group, said at the meeting that the cluster’s activities must focus on innovation and the ability to renew and the strength of European networking. Together, we will learn how to make new things, which will increase the attractiveness and image of the region nationally and internationally, and would also attract new experts to employee companies.
CBO Juha Räsänen of Savon Voima Oyj believes that the standard level in the cluster should be set high. Research must be world-class and companies must have the courage to engage in the way in which action is taken. The world is changing all the time, the cluster is a good channel for sharing information, identifying needs, finding solutions and pooling resources. And it is not only about focusing on technological challenges, but also to consider profitability and cost-effectiveness. Markku Huhtinen, Manager of Education and RDI at Savonia University of Applied Sciences, said that companies, especially start-ups, have challenges: How do they go ahead with their own ideas or how to build a pilot facility, for example. Start-ups and SMEs need a network that already has the skills capacity of the sector. In particular, it is important for these companies that there are large companies involved. Companies can also face challenges with energy technology if they do not have the expertise in this in their own company. Joining the energy cluster will also benefit such companies. The newly created North Savo Energy Cluster is led in the early stages by Markku Huhtinen, Manager of Education and RDI at Savonia University of Applied Sciences, coordinator of the project “North Savo Energy Technology RDI Ecosystem Development”.