Date: 22 March 2023
Location: Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Iisalmi campus, Auditorium
Organized by: Business Kuopio / Invest and expand in Pohjois-Savo region project and Agri-Food cluster North Savo Agri-food cluster goes international, Savonia UAS, Iisalmi Campus
After Agri-Food Cluster North Savo’s visit to Food and Bio Cluster Denmark (FBCD), the idea of an event and inviting the Danish cluster was born. Negotiations with Business Kuopio and the Invest and Expand in Pohjois-Savo project were successful, and an event was held on March 22, 2023, at Savonia UAS Iisalmi campus. The event aimed to promote collaboration with Danish clusters and companies while helping agri-food sector companies find international opportunities and expand to the Danish market. The event attracted 45 participants, including companies, researchers from Savonia, business consultants for exporting and commercialization, and students. In addition to the participants, the event saw the attendance of researchers from various universities in Chile, which added an international flavor to the event. It provided an excellent opportunity for networking and learning about the potential for agri-food in Denmark in terms of exporting or collaborating with Danish companies.
The event featured renowned keynote speakers from FBCD, Anders Skeem (International Manager at FBCD) and Britt Sandvad (Senior Innovation Manager at FBCD), who shared valuable insights on the opportunities and benefits of collaboration between North-Savo businesses and Danish companies. In addition to the main speakers, there were also representatives of Business Finland, Team Finland, Talentree, and Ketoinen, and Bailey Lähdesmäki, RDI expert from Savonia UAS, also moderated the event.
The Agri-Food Cluster North-Savo, located in Iisalmi, plays a crucial role in fostering the development of regional actors in the agriculture and food sector, and promoting the vitality of rural industries. The cluster’s primary aim is to coordinate and facilitate collaboration, create project initiatives, and share knowledge and experiences. Similarly, the Food & Bio Cluster Denmark is the national cluster organization for the Danish food and bioresource industry. It serves as a platform for innovation and growth for Danish and international companies and knowledge institutions.
Britt Sandvad of FBCD discussed the success story of the cluster, which currently boasts over 425 members across 9 different locations in Denmark and has partners in 65 countries. Sandvad highlighted the cluster’s comprehensive value chain coverage and the diverse benefits it offers to its members.
Anders Skeem of FBCD then focused on the opportunities available to North-Savo businesses in the Danish food market, including potential partnerships with Danish retailers and food service players. He emphasized the similarities between Finland and Denmark, both resilient and highly ranked in equality, and encouraged companies to utilize the services provided by Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) for international growth. [EEN, the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions, is accessible in Finland through Business Finland (BF)].
Kari Venäläinen, from Business Finland, discussed the supports available for Finnish companies seeking internationalization. These includes access to international and local expertise, professional consulting services, market information and contacts, and funding opportunities through programs like “Food from Finland”.
Sanna Laitinen from Team Finland elaborated on the wide range of advisory, training, and networking services provided to companies seeking international growth, including business development, legal advice, market advice, funding and financing services through various channels like ELY center, Business Finland, and Finnvera.
In general, the speakers collectively provided attendees with valuable insights and actionable advice on internationalizing their agri-food businesses.
In addition to the informative presentations, the event also included a mini workshop conducted by Sandvad on the topic of “how to build a cluster“. During the workshop, the participants discussed the transfer from the triple helix model of innovation to the penta helix model, which involves adding the component of entrepreneurship and capital to the existing model. The penta helix model of innovation is a framework that emphasizes the importance of collaboration between five key actors: academia and research, government, entrepreneurs, investors, and corporates. This model recognizes that innovation is not solely driven by industry and academia but requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders to create and sustain a successful innovation ecosystem. The workshop provided a platform for participants to share their perspectives and experiences and was highly beneficial for all.
The event concluded with delicious pizza slices from Ketoinen Oy, made with their unique and healthy grain-free pizza dough- a product they believe has taste, texture, and nutritional content that cannot be found anywhere else! According to Niina-Marika, CEO of Ketoinen, participating in the event and the Agri-Food Cluster can help expand their business, network, and value chain, especially on an international scale.
What a delicious way to wrap up an event!
Author: Parastoo Jalili, Content producer at Invest and expand in Pohjois-Savo region project, Business Kuopio
 Carayannis, E.G. and Campbell, D.F., 2009. ‘Mode 3’and’Quadruple Helix’: toward a 21st century fractal innovation ecosystem. International journal of technology management, 46(3-4), pp.201-234.