September 5th to 9th, was a momentous occasion for Kuopio, Finland, as it hosted a delegation from Minneapolis, one of its sister cities in the USA.
During the delegation’s stay, a three-day program was organized in collaboration between Business Kuopio and the City of Kuopio, aiming at showcasing the region’s potential across various sectors and industries. Notable members of the USA delegation included Minneapolis Mayor Mr. Jacob Frey, Honorary Consul of Finland for Minnesota and South Dakota Ms. Elaine Kumpula, city council members, and representatives from key organizations, such as the Minneapolis Department of Public Works, the Minnesota Historical Society, Meet Minneapolis, Convention & Visitors Association, the Minneapolis-Kuopio Partnership, and Textile Center.
This visit wasn’t just a routine diplomatic exchange; it marked the celebration of the 50-year sister city relationship between Kuopio and Minneapolis. Kuopio has 15 sister cities and a sister region in Estonia. The primary goal of sister city activities is to strengthen collaboration between cities, support internationalization in the Kuopio region, and promote the development of businesses and inter-business cooperation.
Minnesota stands as a hub for environmental technology, health, and agriculture. Minneapolis and Kuopio have shared a twin city relationship since 1972, and their collaboration has extended to addressing climate change, environmental well-being, and green growth in the following sectors: The ties between Finland and Minnesota run deep, encompassing culture, sports, and business. With many Finnish companies already established in the state,
The three-day program organized by Business Kuopio provided a comprehensive exploration of the city’s business landscape. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the program:
The program kicked off with a focus on the Savilahti area, one of Finland’s most versatile urban development projects. Savilahti serves as an innovation and business ecosystem, housing esteemed educational institutions like the University of Eastern Finland, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, and Savo Vocational College. It’s also home to the Kuopio University Hospital (KYS), several research institutes, KPY Novapolis business park, and over 200 companies, including startups and corporations. This ecosystem provides an ideal platform for growth, development, experimentation, and innovation.
The program was held at the Co-work space in Savilahti, Microkatu 1, where the CEOs of Coding School and cluster managers from Kuopio Health Cluster, Kuopio Water Cluster, and Bio & Circular Cluster highlighted the potentials of each sector. The day concluded with a visit to the Water and Bio & Circular laboratories, attended by the Honorary Consul, Elaine Kumpula, and her husband Richard Shrake.
The second day delved into design, architecture, and tourism. It began with an architectural walk in the city center, guided by Jaana Partanen and Heikki Lamusuo. The tour concluded with a delightful lunch at Piispantalo, the Old Bishop’s House, where the delegation had the opportunity to gain insights about the region from representatives of Tourism Kuopio & Tahko and Design Union. A delicious cake was served to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the sister city relationship.
The day rounded off with a visit to Satu Nisu, a Finnish design brand renowned for its luxurious and unique interior design textiles, all crafted entirely by hand.
The final day placed a stronger emphasis on business-related activities. The program commenced with an orientation tour of the Co-work space, led by Partanen & Lamusuo, who discussed the sustainable architecture applied in its design and renovation, transforming it from a university restaurant into a modern co-working area.
The program continued with presentations from Kuopio Chamber of Commerce, introducing the Kuopio region and the services they offer. Elaine Kumpula also explored business opportunities for companies from Kuopio and North Savo. Moreover, successful regional companies, namely Ponsse, Normet, and Adamant Health, also delivered presentations and introduced themselves and showcased their potentials.
The day unfolded with visits to four companies, each representing different facets of the city’s technology, sustainability, and business history: FinVector, Lumoava, Lasilinkki, and Lignel & Piispanen.
The three-day program aimed to provide a glimpse into the immense possibilities within the North Savo region, along with opportunities for Finnish companies to expand into the US market. These collaborations and programs serve as vital connections, enabling businesses to explore opportunities beyond Finland’s borders and further internationalize the Finnish brand. The visit by the USA delegation strengthened the bonds between Kuopio and Minneapolis, fostering cooperation and goodwill for years to come.
Author: Parastoo Jalili, City of Kuopio, Business Development Services / Business Center
Photos: Parastoo Jalili & Annika Parkkonen