Export promotion and networking trips to support the internationalization of businesses have been arranged under the Kuopio Goes concept already for three years. Organized in cooperation with the Invest and Grow in Kuopio Region (INGROW) project, the Kuopio Goes trips have taken businesses out into the world with promising results. The next destinations are Russia, Japan and India.
The Kuopio Goes concept gathers operators in the city under one overarching concept to achieve more systematic, cost-effective activities with higher attention value. The basis on which target countries are selected can be strategic convergence, the attractiveness of the target area or a starting point stemming from the industry in question. The next trips planned with the INGROW project will be made to Russia and Japan in 2021–2022.
“We are also interested in the Indian market. We feel that we have excellent entry opportunities there in multiple industries now that the country is in the middle of a state-run privatization boom,” says Business Promotion Officer of Kuopio Mika Raatikainen.
Due to the prevailing situation, more contacts than was originally planned for may have to be managed via remote connections.
“For example, the joint trip to participate in HIMSS in September was now organized as a remote event instead. We had a joint stand there, organized under Kuopio Health. Similarly, Slush, the networking event for start-ups and investors, will probably be postponed to 2021 and organized this autumn as a community-based online service called Node by Slush,” says Raatikainen.
The Kuopio Goes trips have offered businesses the opportunity to become familiar with international experts, share information about their services and manage their existing business relationships.
“We attended the London Future Healthcare B2B event in March 2019. During the event, we took part in several arranged meetings with international health technology experts. Over the course of almost one week, we had many opportunities to enhance relationships within our existing networks as well,” says Merja Jaronen, Program Manager at Neurocenter Finland.
Also including free time, the trips have also given members of the delegation the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the operators in their home province.
“The trips have been productive not only in terms of the destination, but also the region of departure. It was great to the able to strengthen the networks in the Kuopio region during the trip, as there is far too little time to do so during regular working days,” says Jaronen.
Key Account Manager Tuomas Hirvonen at 3D Talo Finland, a company developing VR and AR solutions, was introduced to life around the fishing and offshore industry in Norway. He made a trip in October 2019 to Bodø, one of the twin cities of Kuopio, which has a lot in common with Kuopio when it comes to town planning, for instance.
“We headed to Norway to discuss 3D solutions related to town planning. There are many large projects in progress in Bodø, in which our expertise might be useful,” says Hirvonen. The foundation for cooperation was laid during the trip. Since then, discussions have been held with the Norwegians and joint test cases have been set up around the Design Space software.
“Patience is the key when forming new customer relationships, because it takes time for cooperation to kick off. The first visit is all about networking and getting to know the culture. A slow start may soon be followed by a productive partnership.”
The Kuopio Goes trips often also include a visit to a fair relating to the theme of the trip. A joint stand for the group of businesses is a cost-effective solution both time-wise and economically. Selling research and product development services, the Medfiles Group has already been on two Kuopio Goes trips.
“The trips left a positive impression. The joint stand of Kuopio saved us a lot of effort and resources. We found fruitful contacts at the Nordic Life Science event held in Malmö in September 2019,” says Business Development Manager Eero Strandman.
Strandman warmly recalls the successfully organized opportunity to network with international operators.
“During the day, we met with multiple businesses, which is definitely the best way to advertise our expertise. We obtained potential new partners from 5–10 countries,” says Strandman.
All participants emphasized the importance of independent background research before arriving at the destination.
“If the visiting business knows where the other party is coming from and what their interests are, it is easier to sow the seeds of cooperation in a short period of time,” says Jaronen.
Strandman and Hirvonen agree with Jaronen.
“Also, when attending a fair, you should find out what businesses will be there and what types of people you will meet. This way, you can target the right audience with your sales and gain the maximum benefit from the trip,” Strandman continues.
The participants also stressed the importance of early, active communication by travel agents and taking the interests of the delegation into account when planning activities outside visits to fairs and companies. A successful experience leaves a positive mark on the participants for a long time and encourages them to participate again.
Text: Maiju Korhonen
Trips organized as a joint effort by various partners also produce added value to the participating businesses. Kuopio Goes trips have been organized by: BusinessKuopio and the Invest & Grow in Kuopio Region project, the Fast Track project of the Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Kuopio Region Chamber of Commerce, Business Finland, Team Finland, UEF, North Savo ELY Centre, City of Kuopio, Kasve, Kuopio Health, Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo, Talentree, Taustamarkkinat BGTM and the Finnish Embassy in London (UK partner).
The article is part of the communication of the Invest and Grow in Kuopio Region (INGROW) project. Invest and Grow in Kuopio Region project is coordinated by the Business Development Services of City of Kuopio (1.1.2018–30.9.2020). Funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Leverage from the EU 2014–2020, Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo and the City of Kuopio.