1.        Author contact information

Author contact information

Name

Hanna Meriläinen

E-mail

hanna.merilainen@etela-pohjanmaa.fi

Telephone (non-compulsory)

 

 

2.        GP owner contact information

Organisation in charge of the good practice

Country

Finland

Region

South Ostrobothnia

City

Seinäjoki

Organisation name

Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia

Is your organisation the main institution in charge of this good practice?

NO

 

3.     Good Practice description

3.1.   Introduction (a short overview of the GP)

Good practice general information

Title of the practice [100 characters]

Food Forum and Food Team: Regional Food Innovation Cluster Networks in South Ostrobothnia

Does the practice come from an Interreg Europe project?

NO

Thematic objective of the practice

Competitiveness of SMEs, Research and Innovation

Geographical scope of the good practice

Regional

3.2.   Detailed information on the GP

 

Good practice detailed information

Short summary of the practice [160 characters]

Food Forum and Food Team are regional networks that form the core of the food innovation cluster of South Ostrobothnia.

 

Detailed information on the practice [5000 characters]

Food Forum and Food Team are food sector collaboration networks that operate in South Ostrobothnia region. The aim of the networks is to enhance the innovativeness of the region’s food sector and they both are outputs from a former development project funded under the European Regional Development Fund.

Background & context 

As mentioned above, both networks were created as a result from an ERDF funded project that was a collaboration project of four key RDI organisations within the South Ostrobothnian food sector. The project was called Agrobioeconomy Seinäjoki (AB Seinäjoki) and the aim of the project was to develop an innovation community for the region’s agrobioeconomy sector. The project was carried out between 1.3.2016 and 31.12.2018 with around 420 000€ budget.

During the project the actors deepened their collaboration and created various activities to promote the innovativeness of and cooperation within the regional food sector.

After the project the four project partners and one additional partner signed a contract where the activities developed in the project were agreed to be continued. The activities are carried out now through the two separate networks Food Forum and Food Team that together form a regional food cluster.

How they work?

Food Forum is a collaboration among five key actors who work within the food sector development in the region. The members in the forum are the four original partners of AB Seinäjoki project: Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, Into Seinäjoki Business Development, Natural Resources Institute of Finland and University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute. The fifth partner is Foodwest Ltd. who was invited in the network outside the project.

The aim of the collaboration is to enhance the innovativeness of the agrofood sector through various activities developed in the previous project.  The collaboration is based on a signed contract of collaboration. The forum meets three to four times a year and the chairmanship of the Forum rotates every year.

The activities of the forum are:

1.     Organisation of Food Business Summit (a yearly national event directed to food sector developers, researchers and companies all over Finland)

2.     Organisation of Food Business Challenge (an innovation competition for students to develop new business ideas around sustainable food systems)

3.     Organisation of smaller seminars and events related to new knowledge and innovations in AgroFood sector (few times a year)


The Food Team
is a looser network that has been directed especially for food sector companies and their development. The aim of the team is to bring together companies within the food sector and enhance their exporting possibilities. Secondly the network aims at enhancing the conspicuousness of the region as a Food Province and its knowledge/know-how in food sector and all over the food value chain. Lately the team’s activities have concentrated mainly on the promotion of exporting. The main identified exporting countries are China and Germany. Five to ten companies have actively taken part in the network.  

Main actors and beneficiaries

The main actors in the good practice are the above mentioned five organisations.

Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and Food Unit – Key actor in the regional food sector with educational programmes around Field to Fork concept and RDI activities and facilities around sustainable food systems.

Into Seinäjoki Business Development – Business development organisation within the Seinäjoki region. Active RDI activities in food business development.

University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute has a unit in Seinäjoki. The institute carries out its duties by conducting multidisciplinary research and providing instruction, developing solutions that promote entrepreneurship and wellbeing, networking and constructing open learning environments and promoting research and teaching in the co-operative sector. The institute’s focus areas are: 1. Local development, 2. Sustainable food chains and 3. New bioeconomy.

Luke – Natural Resources Institute of Finland. The Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) has an office in Seinäjoki, where they do various research on agricultural products, organic production, food safety, wellbeing of animals etc. They are involved in various research and development projects and active member of the various networks and platforms around the food sector development.

Foodwest Ltd. a private research and development organisation working directly with food sector companies. Foodwest works with companies to create new food-based business from raw materials to products, and from idea to launch.

The main beneficiaries of the good practice are the SMEs, RDI organisations and students within the regional food sector.

Resources needed [300 characters]

Keeping up the networks requires relatively a low amount of financial and human resources. The most financial resources are needed for the organisation of the two main activities: The Food Business Summit and the Food Business Challenge competition. The yearly cost of the Food Business Challenge competition is around 16 000 euros (including the price moneys and human resources).

Timescale (start/end date)

The operations are ongoing.

Evidence of success (results achieved) [500 characters]

The good practice is an example of how activities and operations developed in a former development project have been implemented in the region and they continue to be functioning as part of organizations’ own activities. 

The activities of Food Forum such as the Food Business Summit and Food Business Challenge have also enhanced the regions visibility as the Food Province of Finland nationally. In general, the collaboration has led to some new projects and actions taken in the agri-food sector.

Difficulties encountered / lessons learned [600 characters]

The limited resources are always a challenge to overcome.

Potential for learning or transfer [1000 characters]

Especially for small regions with limited resources, this practice and how the cluster is organised can be considered as potential model of cooperation of key actors, solutions of RDI and multidisciplinary education for building the cluster. Cooperation of key actors is remarkable strength for the region. Common goals and personal contacts are important for developing the sector together. Win-win thinking helps everyone, and boosts innovativeness.

The organisation of the Food Business Summit event and the Food Business Challenge Innovation Competition are also interesting concepts that could be transferred to other partner regions. 

Further information

 

Keywords related to your practice

#cooperation #networks #RegionalFoodInnovationCluster