6Aika and Vantaa SMEs: competitive edge
A company’s competitive strength is built on competence, continuous learning, curiosity and openness to experimentation and new technologies. Vantaa’s vitality and appeal will continue to be ensured by competent and agile local businesses that adapt to the changing operating environment and by networks and clusters of companies emerging out of RDI collaborations. Under the 6Aika projects, companies, educational institutions and the city have come together in all kinds of new ways.
In the development and innovation environments of the 6Aika projects, hundreds of companies in Vantaa have learnt and created new things through experiments, business networks and growth and internationalisation programmes.
Naturally, there is a lot of competence in the educational institutions and experts involved in the projects but also in the companies – and everyone benefits when competence is shared.
6Aika ROBOREEL – Resilience and company vitality from robotics project manager Laila Bröcker encourages companies to get involved in the cooperative process.
“Companies networking is good for both the companies and their customers. For example, when the social and healthcare sector is acquiring digital tools and robots, it is really important that the service providers and companies using the services cooperate and share their own expertise. It can be beneficial to all not to see each other as competitors,” says Bröcker.
Companies should explore the benefits of robotics, automation and other technologies while the use of these new technologies can still bring about significant competitive advantages. In the Roboreel project, universities of applied sciences and vocational colleges have offered to help companies analyse the opportunities and risks in robotics and automation.
Co-creation helps meet actual needs
The 6Aika: Co-Created Health and Wellbeing (CoHeWe) project provided companies with opportunities to develop products and services together with social and healthcare professionals and end users. Co-creation has been experimented with in projects producing an online speech therapy service, a virtual reality headset for rehabilitation and a remote rehabilitation service.
“Through market dialogue and workshops, the companies involved have been able to participate in experiments to which they would not have had access without these development projects. Companies developing solutions for the social and healthcare sector have been able to see the sector from the inside, and they have gained experience and expertise in the co-creation process,” explains project manager Sari Helenius.
The companies that took part in the CoHeWe project experiments in Vantaa have benefitted from the collaboration between the cities sharing the 6Aika strategy. The fact that the companies have gained not only an understanding of the social and healthcare sector but also of their ability to scale their services to the other cities will open up new opportunities for expansion and growth for them.
Instant implementation is key
The most important thing for companies is that the added value and competence acquired from the project sits well with the everyday operations of the company and is visible at the client interface immediately. The 6Aika Ecosystems of Growth project has raised the bar high. In addition to various workshops and mentoring for growth companies, the project explored new ways to learn through peer-to-peer learning and learning networks. Companies have benefitted from the RDI cooperation between companies, universities and other educational institutions.
“We also provided opportunities to join international networks when we extended learning and cooperation to ecosystems abroad. For example, when exploring the theme of indoor air in buildings, we headed to Singapore. However, our companies did not go there as businesses selling products to other businesses but in order to network with the local authorities, RDI operators and companies,” says Ecosystems of Growth project manager Kaisa Ahonen.
The urban food community, Vantaa food cluster, is a good example of a successful company cluster that was supported by the ecosystems of growth project. Their co-created Vantaa menu is a celebration of local foods.
Company culture serves the city
Over the course of seven years, the 6Aika projects have given companies an opportunity to grow and develop valuable competence. Huge leaps forward have been taken in cooperation with universities, universities of applied sciences and colleges and serving companies as developing partners.
“The city has its overarching strategies and vision that determine objectives and standards. The strength of the 6Aika projects is their down-to-earth approach and concrete and fast implementation, which allows trust to be built between participants simply by working side by side,” Ahonen points out.
“Projects are agile tools. We will always aim to keep the entrepreneurial spirit with us in the city’s service,” all the project manager pledge.
6Aika is a joint sustainable urban development strategy of the six largest cities in Finland: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu. This strategy centres on co-creation and cross-sector collaboration between cities, companies and other organisations and sectors and offers platforms and environments for experimenting and development. In Vantaa, 6Aika means experimenting with new ideas and development projects in and with the city.