Jukka Kumpusalo, Author at Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd

Promoting Cross-Border Business in Biotechnology and Circular Economy

There are similar and shared environmental challenges in Finland and Russia, and these challenges need to be solved together, in cross-border cooperation.

By: Elena Mochnikova, Alexander Ostroukhov, Mervi Rajahonka, Anitta Sihvonen and Saija Tillgren

Many of technologically advanced scientific inventions in biotechnology and circular economy cannot find their users, and although many companies are interested in internationalization, they have limited knowledge or resources to proceed. Therefore, there is still a lot to do.

The need for intensive and concrete cooperation in circular economy and biotechnology is recognized in both Finland and Russia. Business in Biotechnology and Circular Economy (BBC1) project aims to increase sustainable economic growth in the Finnish-Russian cross-border region. The main target groups are Finnish and Russian biotechnology and circular economy companies operating in the cross-border area, and university students and researchers. The project aims to increase the awareness and competences on entrepreneurship and commercialization of scientific research results, and to improve the skills and competitiveness of companies.

Strong consortium and tested methods

The consortium behind the project includes two strategic alliances, namely alliances of universities ITMO (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Xamk (Mikkeli, Finland) and business development organizations Miksei (Mikkeli, Finland) and AsEP (St. Petersburg, Russia). These alliances work during the course of the project hand in hand. The universities will provide training for companies to improve their competences to operate in international markets, and for students and researchers to accelerate innovations to turn into spinoffs and startups. The business development organizations will help companies in their efforts further.

Project steering group meeting in St. Petersburg, November 2019. From left to right: Alexander Ostroukhov, Elena Mochnikova, Anton Gopka, Anne Gustafsson-Pesonen, Anna-Maija Torniainen, Daria Mironova, Saija Tillgren, Boris Krylov, Jouni Riihelä, Panu Jouhkimo. Photo: Elizaveta Pomazkova

The project uses verified methods for boosting innovation activities in the universities and research institutes. In December 2019, an open innovation competition for students and researchers was launched to find new ideas in biotechnology and circular economy. Over 80 ideas were received for the competition, mainly from ITMO university students and researchers. The best ideas will be selected into an accelerator program. Due to the global COVID-19 crisis, the biggest challenge of this year will be to transform all activities into an online form.

The project offers startups and established companies practical support in their efforts towards viable growth and internationalization. Training programs and matchmaking events for Finnish and Russian companies will be arranged to improve their competences for international markets. Additionally, EcoSairila – a development and cooperation platform established by the City of Mikkeli – will offer a base to cooperate for both researchers and businesses. With EcoSairila, Mikkeli aims to become a top of the world center in wastewater treatment, waste management, recycling and in biogas production. In the future, also a digital platform of EcoSairila will be developed, offering an open access showcase for new circular economy solutions.

BBC1 Project in Brief

Business in Biotechnology and Circular Economy (BBC1) project is administered by Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd., and partnered by South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk), Small Business Center, Finland, and ITMO University and the Association for Environmental Partnership (AsEP), Russia. The project is funded by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland. The main source of funding is ENI CBC Programme South East Finland – Russia 2014–2020. The implementation period of the project is 1.9.2019 – 28.2.2022. 

About writers:

Mochnikova works as an ENI CBC Project Coordinator at South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, Ostroukhov works as a Project administrator at ITMO University, St. Petersburg, Russia, Rajahonka works as a RDI Specialist at South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, Sihvonen works as a Manager of Funding at Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd and Tillgren works as a Project Manager at Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd.

Biltema tontti

Biltema expands to Mikkeli

The Nordic Biltema chain builds a new department store in Mikkeli. BiltemaReal Estate Finland Oy, a member of the Biltema Group, buys 3.4 hectares of land from the City of Mikkeli in Visulahti. The company submitted a purchase offer for the plots in a public tender organised by the city.

CEO Jani Mahlakaarto from Biltema Suomi Oy confirms that the company is planning to open a new department store in Mikkeli. The 7,000 square metres store, in accordance with the company’s new department store concept, will employ approximately 25-40 people after its opening, and many times more during the construction phase.

According to Jani Mahlakaarto, expanding to Mikkeli is part of Biltema’s new growth strategy, the aim of which is to increase the number of shops in Finland over the next few years. The company plans to start construction in 2021 and open the new department store to the public at the end of spring 2022.

Sale of Land Accelerates the Development of the Visulahti Business Area

For the City of Mikkeli, the plot sale of about 3.4 hectares is the most important starting point for the construction of the Visulahti area’s trade and business activities. The strong national retail chain will act as the forerunner business in the region, which is sure to speed up other investment plans in the region.

Biltema is the first retailer to go public with its plans.

The City of Mikkeli and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency will work together to build the Mikkeli – Juva main road project. The new section of the main road will open for traffic at the end of 2020. The new interchange in Visulahti will be opened at the same time. New areas reserved for retail are also located near the interchange.

The City of Mikkeli has zoned areas for retail and business in the immediate vicinity of the main road. The connection project has already built streets and roads in this area to enable a speedy deployment of the plots.
A company previously settled in this area is Ponsse Oyj.

Jouni Riihelä, Mikkeli City Technical Director, explains that the area has been systematically developed.

-The City of Mikkeli has been patiently building an area of trade and entrepreneurship around the Visulahti intersection. With the progress of the main road project and this plot sale, the belief in the attractiveness of this retail area has become more concrete. It can be said that the commitment of a nationally well-known retail chain to Visulahti is the most concrete example of this, and a step forward. This company’s investment creates the vitality and jobs Mikkeli needs, which has always been the goal of Visulahti’s development.

At the moment, six other preliminary reservations have been made at Visulahti, explains Hannele Hynninen from the Mikkeli Development Company Miksei Ltd. In addition, negotiations are under way with several other operators.

-We believe that Biltema’s decision will also speed up the decisions made by others.

Mikkeli Development Company Ltd. creates jobs for the residents of Mikkeli by supporting the development, growth and export of companies. Miksei supports businesses through all stages of development, starting from business plans. Our experts help companies find a suitable location and workforce, develop their business, and create national and international networks. More about us

Seven European cities pilot solutions to be more circular

CityLoops is a new EU-funded project focusing on organic, and construction and demolition waste

Høje-Taastrup and Roskilde (Denmark), Mikkeli (Finland), Apeldoorn (the Netherlands), Bodø (Norway), Porto (Portugal) and Seville (Spain) are the seven European cities that will pilot a series of demonstration actions on construction and demolition waste (CDW) and organic waste (OW) with the aim of achieving material circularity. Over 30 new tools and processes will be tested as part of CityLoops, an EU-funded project with 28 partners involved, that has just kicked-off and will run until September 2023.

– Construction and demolition waste (CDW) – including soil – and organic waste (OW) are two of the most significant urban material flows with a remarkable environmental impact in European cities. The EU-funded CityLoops project will develop a series of innovative procedures, approaches and open access and open source tools to embed circularity within planning and decision-making processes for CDW and OW in cities. The ultimate goal is to drive the transition to a circular economy.

The seven pilot cities – all of them small- to medium-sized ones – will structure their pilots in three phases: inception and preparation phase, including a series of preparatory analysis and stakeholder mapping and participatory planning; demonstration phase, when the solutions will be implemented and tested, and replication phase, when the CityLoops measures will be upscaled at regional and European level. The solutions and actions go from instruments for predicting future excavated CDW and soil production, to awareness-raising campaigns, circularity decision-making support tools, simulation of impacts 3D visualisation tools and procurement guidelines for OW products. A total of ten demonstration actions will be implemented, testing over 30 new tools and processes.

Alongside these, a sector-wide circularity assessment and an urban circularity assessment will be carried out in each of the cities. The former will help to optimise the demonstration activities, whereas the latter will enable cities to effectively integrate circularity into planning and decision making.

Another key aspect of CityLoops is circular procurement: the seven demonstrator cities will explore how public sector purchases can create markets for innovative circular economy products and solutions – from more circular design and increasing the use of recycled content in products, to ensuring reparability, reuse and appropriate recycling of products and materials, and promoting servicisation models. The active involvement of key stakeholders in every stage of the project will be also of crucial importance.

“CityLoops aims to provide a tested blueprint for promoting circularity which other local and regional governments across Europe can follow,” said Simon Clement, coordinator at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a city-network responsible for leading the CityLoops project.

Circular Cities Declaration

Political representatives from the demonstrator CityLoops cities, as well as from Vallès Occidental (Spain) – one of the ‘followers’ of the project together with Murcia (Spain) – gathered last week to sign a ‘Circular Cities Declaration’. Through their signatures, they commit to enhancing the circular economy through policy and regulatory levers; to initiating a series of innovative pilot and demonstration activities to help identify the most promising solutions; to sharing knowledge with peers, and to building a wider circular cities coalition with key stakeholders and initiatives across Europe.

Background information on CDW and OW

CDW is, in volume terms, the most significant waste fraction in Europe. According to Eurostat (2015), in 2012 construction and demolition activities were responsible for 32% of all waste generated in the EEA, with a further 27% from mining and quarrying. Resource consumption for buildings and infrastructure in Europe is highly material intensive, consuming between 1.2 and 1.8 billion tonnes of materials per annum in Europe (Ecorys, 2014). The construction sector is also economically important, contributing on average 5–13% of the total (gross) value added (Eurostat, 2015).

Regarding OW, according to the European Commission the European Union produces approximately 130 Mt of organic waste per year, a number that is projected to have increased by 10% by 2020. Organic waste consists of organic fractions of municipal solid waste (OMSW) as well as organic waste from commercial sources and public spaces. Overall, 68% of organic waste produced annually in the EU consists of food waste originating from food manufacturing and packaging processes (39%), household scraps (42%), and restaurants/grocery stores (19%).

For more information contact us:

Mrs. Anitta Sihvonen
Mikkeli development Miksei Ltd

Mölnlycke invests 60 million euros in Mikkeli

The management of wound care product manufacturer Mölnlycke Health Care reports that its investment programme in the company’s Mikkeli factory will be completed in 2020. The programme, that has spanned over several years, has allocated a total of nearly 60 million euros in equipment and expansion investments.

The Mikkeli production facility is a prime example of how industrial employment can be increased in Finland. Two years ago, the factory had approximately 380 employees, whereas in 2019, the unit employs already 550 people.

Timo Saahko, Managing Director, affirms that the investments have picked up momentum as a result of high growth prospects.

“The coming years will be busy, and sizeable investments will be made during 2020. Older equipment will be replaced as the increased production rate focuses on advanced wound care products and Mölnlycke’s patented Safetac technology.”

According to Saahko, the company will invest approximately 10 million euros in the Mikkeli factory in 2020. Investment in the Mikkeli factory increases as Mölnlycke aims to have the world’s leading and most efficient production and product development facilities for advanced wound care products.

“We develop the operation of the Mikkeli production facility in a very systematic manner.”

Investor AB, a Wallenberg family investment company that owns Mölnlycke, states on its website that Mölnlycke is capable of reaching solid growth, results and cash flow.

In 2017, the City of Mikkeli constructed 2,300 square metres of new storage space for the company, increasing the total area of the factory’s storage facilities to 20,000 square metres. The city and the company have concluded an eight-year lease agreement for the facilities.

“Our cooperation with the City of Mikkeli has been seamless.”

The construction of a new production clean room is underway in the old storage facility which was freed as a result of completing the new 15-metre-high storage facility that can house up to 5,000 pallets.

“Our know-how and attitude at the Mikkeli factory have inspired confidence in us at the company headquarters in Gothenburg. Our products are not the easiest ones to manufacture, but we have proved our efficiency. Our vision for 2020 is to be the world’s leading and most efficient production and product development facility for advanced wound care products,” Saahko states.

About Mölnlycke
Gothenburg-based Mölnlycke Health Care manufactures wound care and surgical products in Mikkeli. The company operates in 90 countries and employs 7,500 people worldwide.

Väkeä Fujitsu Finland Oy:n Mikkelin osaamiskeskuksessa

Fujitsu established a centre of excellence for information management in Mikkeli

The new centre of excellence will recruit dozens of experts.

Helsinki, 21 December 2017.

Fujitsu Finland Oy will establish a centre of excellence in Mikkeli with the aim to support and promote Fujitsu’s information management projects in Finland and Europe. Information management plays a central role when companies and organisations renew their operating models as part of the digital transformation. One of Fujitsu’s essential objectives is the improvement of productivity.

The Mikkeli centre of excellence is part of Fujitsu’s centre of excellence for document and content management which will employ approximately one hundred experts in Finland and other European countries and whose establishment was announced earlier in November.

Mikkeli’s new centre of excellence will operate on the campus of the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, and it will engage in close collaboration with the City of Mikkeli and Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd. Fujitsu’s current employees in the Southern Savonia region will transfer to the new premises. A large part of the personnel needs will be filled through recruitment. The recruitment of ICT professionals specialised in information management and digital archiving will commence in early 2018, and the centre of excellence has dozens of vacancies for suitable experts.

The criteria for selecting Mikkeli as the location of Fujitsu’s new office included the multi-annual cooperation brought by the Lupaus development programme and the extensive know-how and partner network available in Mikkeli. In addition, Fujitsu believes that Mikkeli can provide the company with extensive know-how in electronic transaction services and digital archiving. The location of the new Fujitsu office on the campus of the university of applied sciences also supports cooperation in education. The future cooperation will have direct benefits as electronic transaction services and digital archiving are among the specialisations of the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences.

“Finland is a trailblazer in electronic transaction services, and Fujitsu has been very active in the development of the field’s solutions. In particular, Finland’s public administration and financial sector have long traditions in information management. The centre of excellence in Mikkeli and our cooperation with Fujitsu’s Finnish partners will enable us to provide better services for our customers. In addition, our aim is to spread the good practices throughout Europe,” states Mauri Mikkonen, Director of Fujitsu’s information management business operations in the Nordic countries.

“Information management and electronic transaction services are particularly valuable to citizens as they navigate the jungle of public administration services. That is exactly what we aim to develop at the new centre of excellence. We have already received several years of good experiences of cooperating with the City of Mikkeli through the Lupaus development programme. Fujitsu’s CaseM solution has enabled Mikkeli to achieve remarkable time savings and environmental benefits. Encouraged by our positive experiences, we wish to build a new, significant centre of excellence in Mikkeli,” comments Simo Leisti, Managing Director at Fujitsu Finland.

“We selected digital information management as one of the priority areas of development in the Mikkeli region already in 2005. As a result of our determined operations in Mikkeli and the region of Southern Savonia, we have been able to establish, for example, a modern archiving and library expertise and service centre that focuses on the development of digital information management and archiving,” states Juha Ropponen, Development Director at Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd.

“Mikkeli has an excellent competence base for developing the centre of excellence as the education at South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (XAMK) has a strong emphasis on digital skills. Jointly with the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland, XAMK has established Digitalia, Research Centre on Digital Information Management. XAMK is the only higher education institution in Finland that offers a Master’s degree programme in electronic transaction services and digital archiving,” says Timo Halonen, Mayor of the City of Mikkeli.

Press contacts
Fujitsu Finland Oy, Satu Pelttari, Communications Director
satu.pelttari(at)fi.fujitsu.com, tel. +358 45 7880 9624

Fujitsu Finland Oy, Mauri Mikkonen, Director
mauri.mikkonen(at)fi.fujitsu.com, tel. +358 45 7881 0398

About Fujitsu
Fujitsu is Japan’s leading ICT company. It produces a wide range of technology products as well as ICT solutions and services. Fujitsu employs approximately 140,000 people who serve customers in over a hundred countries. The company utilises its experience and the opportunities of ICT to shape the future jointly with its customers. In the accounting period ending on 31 March 2018, Fujitsu’s revenue was USD 39 billion. Further information: www.fujitsu.com

Valikko