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A shop window on Finland's digital capabilities

Forum Virium Helsinki's long-term vision is to profile the digital capabilities of the Helsinki region, and Finland generally, to the world, and make the region a dynamic product and service development hub in the digital arena.
Forum Virium Helsinki

Forum Virium Helsinki is a cooperation cluster devoted to the development of new customer-driven digital services and content. The organisation was founded on the initiative of a number of significant players in the digital sector, including Digita, Elisa, Nokia, TeliaSonera, the Finnish Road Enterprise, TietoEnator, Veikkaus, WM-data, the YIT Group, and the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

Partner companies include Hewlett Packard, IBM, MTV3, Siemens, SOK, SWelcom, and Vaisala.

The public sector is represented by the City of Helsinki; Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund; Tekes, the Finnish Funding for Technology and Innovation; and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Forum Virium Helsinki's role is to act as a neutral matchmaker between partners, and help drive their future concepts, programmes, and projects forward. The organisation's goals focus on enablers such as networking and interaction, communication, and innovation environments. As its name implies, Forum Virium Helsinki is also strongly committed to actively participating in the development of the Helsinki region.

Forum Virium Helsinki differs from most other clusters in that the projects it becomes involved with originate among the members of the organisation's network. This helps ensure that projects are grounded in true business drivers and real-life customer needs.

Ongoing initiatives

Forum Virium Helsinki's ongoing initiatives and programmes are currently concentrated on six future concepts or project areas: traffic, learning, health care, retail, the digital home, and multichannel event media.

The Forum Virium Helsinki SME Development Service (FVH SDS) promotes the growth of small and medium-sized businesses operating in the rapidly expanding digital content and service sector and their access to the international market – to enhance their dynamism, enhance their operating environment, and improve the overall competitiveness of the region.

Cooperation between these types of enterprises and the major companies in the FVH network is also emphasised, as are new tools to support the growth and development of their business expertise.

European Network of Living Labs

One of the major information society projects during Finland's EU Presidency in the second half of 2006 was the establishment of the European Network of Living Labs, the formal launch of which took place in November 2006.

The Helsinki Living Lab formed by Forum Virium Helsinki and Art and Design City Helsinki (ADC) is one of the network's first wave of 20 Living Labs in 16 countries.

The idea behind the Living Labs concept is to develop real-life test laboratories, where new innovations can be studied in actual urban environments – with the entire network acting as a large-scale test environment for new information and communication technology services, technologies, and business, and the development of new markets.

The underlying vision here is to move away from seeing users as simply the object of research and consumers of industry-driven innovations towards a situation where users play an active role in co-creating innovations and end-products.

> Jarmo Eskelinen
(Published in High Technology Finland )