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Incubator services to be strengthened across the country

Incubator services to be strengthened across the country

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Press release 30 September 2004 <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = “O” /?> The Finnish Fund for Research and Development (Sitra), the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the TE (Labour and Economic Development) Centres and the National Technology Agency (Tekes) work together to strengthen the resources of Finland’s science and business parks. The parks, which are situated all over Finland, offer development services to new innovative enterprises. Now this work is being given a further boost. The Yrke project, national development project for business incubators, has three main foci of interest: new services, long-term funding and promoting know-how. The first four Yrke pilots have already been started, and preparations for the next four are far advanced. The intention is to gradually introduce new homogeneous models throughout the country. The Yrke project is a part of the measures instigated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to foster entrepreneurship in Finland. The project is being put into practice in collaboration with other key public-sector bodies. These include, in addition to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the National Technology Agency, the TE Centres, and regional investors such as local and regional government authorities. New services and best practices The project assesses current models used by business incubators and evolves new models that will encourage new enterprises and improve existing ones. In each region the pilots draw up their own development programme that aims to markedly increase the number of knowledge-based and technological companies. The aim is to disseminate the best practices from the different pilots throughout the country. Services that the Yrke project typically offers include recognising regional business ideas, making available development services to companies in the early stage of their existence, evaluating business ideas, helping to draw up business plans and offering early expert advice at the incubator stage to make it easier for people to set up in business and to accelerate growth. Most innovative enterprises seem to be the result of recognising business ideas that originate either in the world of research at the interface with universities or in large companies. Nation-wide efforts are being made to identify ideas that do not form part of large companies’ core operations. The best of these ideas are then commercialised. Short-term funding a problem An important necessity for business incubators if they are to succeed is that they have access to long-term funding. This guarantees know-how in the long term and a professional work force. Hitherto business incubators have been at the mercy of splintered project funding, which has hindered incubators in their efforts to develop client companies. Internationalising innovative companies, too, expect new services from business incubators. These are now to be developed throughout Finland. Versatile and high-quality services are now within every-body’s reach. The organisations involved in the Yrke project chart the possibilities of finding long-term funding for the business incubators. Thirteen companies and eleven local authorities The tight network that exists in little Finland is one of the most competitive in the world. It has an ambitious goal: to double the number of new knowledge-based and technological enterprises in Finland in just a few years, says the head of the Yrke project Anu Nokso-Koivisto at Sitra. The Jyväskylä Science Park, the Kareltek Science Park, the Oulutech Technopolis Incubator Oy, and Technopolis Ventures Oy are already developing new services at a rapid rate. Others that are in an advanced state of preparation are Lahti Science and Business Park, Technology Centre Teknia, PrizzTech Ltd., and the Professia Ltd. consortium that also includes Finn-Medi and Hermia. The Seinäjoki Technology Centre, the Merinova Technology Centre and Turku Science Park are also participating in the project. Yrke companies tread the path from innovations to markets When innovations become business operations, they need service organisations that can take long-term responsibility for following up the project and taking it further. The results of the YRKE project will be studied carefully. The number of new enterprises, for example, and the increase in the services they need in each region together with the development of companies beyond the incubator stage to growth companies will tell us how well the Yrke project has succeeded. The Ministry of Trade and Industry, National Technology Agency (Tekes), Finnish Fund for Research and Development (Sitra) and Finnish Industry Investment Ltd. have set up a steering group to follow how the project works in practice. The Small Business Institute at the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration will evaluate the efficiency of the project. All the pilots in the different regions formed their own steering groups, the members of which include key investors and local authority representatives. Further details Anu Nokso-Koivisto, Sitra +358-9-6189 9228Sirpa Hautala, Ministry of Trade and Industry, +358-50-375 6219Heli Kukko, Tekes, +358-50-557 7776

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