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Helsinki as a centre of scientific excellence

The EU set itself the goal of making the Community the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy in the world in 2000. Four years later, a lot still needs to be done, although progress has been made across Europe, in areas such as developing joint R&D policies between cities and the local scientific community. Culminatum is playing its part in this in the Helsinki Region.

The Helsinki Region is the most research-intensive location in Europe, according to many statistics, and was ranked highest in Europe in the European Competitiveness Index published in March 2004 by Robert Huggins Associates.

The region emerged as one of the most dynamic urban regions in Europe in terms of economic growth in the latter half of the 1990s. Since then, however, the pace of growth has fallen off, and Helsinki clearly faces challenges today. Decision-makers in the region are focusing their efforts, in particular, on ensuring that Helsinki remains a world-class centre of innovation.

One goal that is being addressed is to identify new opportunities where cooperation between universities, towns, and the business community can generate in added value without significant additional investment.

Transportation, however, is an area where investment could be called for, as the region's universities and other institutes of higher education, public and private research institutes, science parks, and knowledge industry clusters are dispersed throughout the region. Innovation is often generated through personal interaction between specialists in different disciplines, and the importance of enabling people to come together more effectively cannot be over-estimated.

Forging a diamond

Town planners in the Helsinki Region are tackling the challenge of how to forge a diamond from individual shards of excellence together with representatives from university campuses and science parks.

The 'Networked Creative Campuses' report, published recently, outlines ways of networking the expertise potential in the region and making a mark in the international arena, under the working title: Helsinki Region Science Park.

Competence-oriented zoning, for example, is expected to play a growing role in attracting companies that benefit from cooperation with institutions of higher education; whilst efficient cross-town public transport is essential to deeper cooperation between campuses.

A unique organisation

Culminatum is a unique organisation, one third owned by universities and research institutions, one third owned by chambers of commerce, science park corporations and financiers, and one third owned by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa, and the Uusimaa Regional Council.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2005, Culminatum has built a solid foundation for its development activities, prioritising strengths such as networking and consensus. As it goes forward, the company has two priorities: to further the programmes of the six regional knowledge-intensive clusters, and to plan and develop value-added projects that will strengthen Helsinki's framework for a world-class innovation environment.

Graph 7. Shareholders of Culminatum Ltd.

> Eero Holstila
(Published in High Technology Finland )