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Promoting the spirit of innovation

Cutting-edge camera phones and PDAs, environmentally compatible forest machinery, automated mining equipment, biodegradable implants ?these are just some of the innovative products developed by companies based in the Tampere region of south-central Finland.
Tampere International Business Office

Centred on Tampere, a city of some 200,000 inhabitants, the Tampere region offers a dynamic growth environment for a number of innovative companies.

An excellent educational and research network supports business and industry, while close cooperation between companies and research organisations helps boost competitiveness.

Areas of activity that are particularly prominent in the region include mechanical engineering and automation, information and communication technology, and health and biotechnology.

Mechanical engineering and automation are wellestablished in the Tampere region. The region's rich mix of skills includes expertise in automated and intelligent machines, production systems, process automation, and specialised hydraulics.

Strong expertise and established networks

In the mechanical engineering and automation sectors, the Tampere region has well-established competencies in mobile machinery, automated production equipment and systems, and process automation. International market leaders include Metso Minerals, Timberjack, Kalmar Industries, Sandvik Tamrock, Tamglass, Fastems, and Bronto Skylift. Companies in this cluster provide 25,500 jobs and generate some €2.8 billion in annual turnover.

The main emphasis in information and communication technology (ICT) is on design, research, and product development. Wireless and telecom applications are particularly strong, with global market leader, Nokia, driving the sector.

Companies in the Tampere region's ICT cluster are involved in fields such as signal processing, wireless and optical telecommunication, opto- and microelectronics, semiconductors, and human-computer interaction.

R&D breakthroughs have been achieved in optoelectronics, and Tampere is one of the most important centres of R&D in digital signal processing. Strong capabilities in ICT also provide significant support for development in other fields. Key features of this ICT excellence include embedded systems for industrial machinery and close cooperation with content producers.

Health and biotechnology continue to grow in the Tampere region, particularly medical technology, in areas such as biomaterials and tissue engineering, healthcare informatics, and well-being services. Leading companies operating in the region include Linvatec Biomaterials, Inion, Santen, and FIT Biotech. The health care cluster employs some 12,000 people.

Researchers and companies in the region's health and biotechnology sector operate in areas such as biomaterials and tissue engineering, biosensors, immunology, oncology, and autoimmune diseases, as well as health care informatics and imaging.

Regional programmes accelerate development

The Tampere region has developed at a very rapid rate during the last decade, a process that has been accelerated by regional programmes and initiatives. The Centre of Expertise Programme, for instance, has helped create growth platforms that have supported company development and accelerated new business activities.

One of the most ambitious of the latest initiatives is the eTampere information society programme, which focuses on strengthening the research and training knowledge base, generating new business, and creating new public online services.

Another exciting initiative has been the BioneXt Tampere biotechnology development programme, which promotes cooperation between scientists, researchers, health service providers, companies, and investors.

Tampere's science parks provide an excellent environment for technology-oriented companies to develop and grow. The Hermia Science Park, which currently has a total of 100,000 m² of space, is home to 150 companies, providing more than 3,000 jobs. The core of Finn-Medi is the Finn-Medi Campus, which houses around 20 companies, research organisations, and a university hospital, and provides 12,000 jobs. Both parks are planning to expand, with each set to add approximately 100,000 m² of office and other facilities.
> Vesa Kaasalainen
(Published in High Technology Finland )