SmartChemistryPark: Bold, new kind of co-operation between Turku and Raisio
"We have challenged companies to work in a new way and attempted to show through our own example that co-operation between cities is also possible, when new kinds of operating environments are being developed for companies", write Linda Fröberg-Niemi and Reeta Huhtinen, Turku Science Park Ltd’s experts in chemical technology and cleantech.
We at Turku Science Park have for the last year been preparing a new development platform for SMEs operating in chemical technology in Southwest Finland. To be located in the Raisio Group plant area, SmartChemistryPark can be considered a regional joint effort of a number of organisations whose goal is to support the growth of Finnish SMEs and creation of jobs. SmartChemistryPark targets at growth by creating a setting for inter-company co-operation and introducing methods of operation that promote the utilisation of the know-how of universities in the R&D&I work of companies.
SmartChemistryPark’s operations focus on SMEs that refine biomass, recycled materials and industrial by-product flows into new products for international markets. The operations of the park are developed by a public developer organisation Turku Science Park Ltd, and the cities of Turku and Raisio together enable starting the operations. Universities will be brought into SmartChemistryPark’s operations through joint research projects which set out to solve chemical and technical challenges of the companies.
The public sector, universities and industrial enterprises will co-operate in SmartChemistryPark. It will become a joint development platform for a number of organisations which will introduce and develop new technologies and products, as well as future co-operation models between different local players.
The main responsibility for the creation and development of the SmartChemistryPark concept in Turku Science Park lies with the undersigned, Linda and Reeta, but we have received important contributions from many of our colleagues. During the past six months, intensive dialogue with different financier parties have been crucial for the successful launch of the SmartChemistryPark concept. For example Tekes and SITRA have followed us and given their support in issues important to starting the operations.
Creating SmartChemistryPark was really interesting and a lot of fun. We attempted to listen to and genuinely understand the entrepreneurs’ situations and development needs, and to act on issues swiftly and in a concrete way. We wanted to do things right, from the entrepreneurs’ point of view, while keeping business development and money in mind. Along the way we try to avoid creating theoretical operating models. Instead of that, our goal was to work together with companies and universities, quickly and practically.
Around ten companies were at the core of the preparations. They deserve big thanks for helping us get to where we are today. All of us who participated in the concept share the same ideas: by working together we can achieve something new. In the future, co-operation is necessary in order to keep the companies (and Finland) on their feet! We have challenged companies to work in a new way and attempted to show through our own example that co-operation between cities is also possible, when new kinds of operating environments are being developed for companies.
The goal is to start the operation in SmartChemistryPark at the beginning of 2015, which means that by then several companies would transfer their operations to Raisio. We will also operate partially in Raisio from that date on in order to be at the core of the park to develop its operations. We hope that the park will take off and start to grow organically, creating new jobs for the chemical industry professionals in the region as well as newly graduated Masters and Doctors.
We are excited about this new challenging concept and believe that through co-operation we can create a new kind of know-how cluster of recycling economy which the region can be proud of and – most importantly – which will generate economic growth in the region!
Linda Fröberg-Niemi and Reeta Huhtinen
Turku Science Park Ltd’s experts in chemical technology and cleantech