The region in brief
Southwest Finland and its capital city of Turku are situated on the coast of the Baltic Sea, in the southwestern corner of Finland. A maritime atmosphere and old agricultural sector meet modern city culture, and rich history meets high technology in this versatile region.
With a population of 458,000 inhabitants, Southwest Finland is the third biggest region in Finland. The population density is 42,9 inhabitants/ km2 and the GDP per capita is € 33,836 euro (2013). Some 5,8 % of the inhabitants speak Swedish as their mother tongue in this bilingual region.
The capital city of the region is the city of Turku. With a population of 176,000 Turku, is the fifth largest city in Finland. Other major cities are Salo, Parainen, Loimaa and Uusikaupunki. Industrial hotspots are Meyer Turku (shipyard), Beyer Orion (Big Pharma), Valmet Automotive (Car manufacturing) and major ports are the Port of Turku, Port of Naantali and the Port of Uusikaupunki.
Southwest Finland is Finland's leading agricultural area and a significant food producer. There is a unique competence network in shipyards, and the cooperation between Turku's shipyards and its subcontractors has resulted in the biggest and the most environmentally friendly cruisers in the world. Marine and metal industries form the base in the region’s economy. The bio cluster has long been emphasized in the region’s development.
Traditional industry has made way for the services sector. The region’s environment offers unique possibilities for developing tourism. Southwest Finland has a unique archipelago and a growing cultural scene - and the number of tourists visiting the region is growing steadily.
The blue economy in Southwest Finland today
Southwest Finland is the leading region of the Finnish maritime industry and hosts over 60 % of all Finnish maritime technology industry companies. There are about 250 companies operating in its maritime industry, 20 design agencies, 15 shipping companies and 3 shipyards. Shipbuilding and maritime industry and the whole maritime cluster are regionally very important. The maritime industry employs around 5 000 people in the Turku region and, according to the latest survey, over 50 % of companies expect turnover to grow in future years.
Meyer Turku Shipyard focuses mainly on cruisers, passenger vessels and special vessels. Meyer is investing in modernisation of the shipyard in coming years. There are also two smaller workboat shipyards in Southwest Finland.
Half of the turnover of the Finnish pharmaceutical industry is generated in Turku. Academic research and growth-seeking companies with R&D expertise have put Turku into a key position in the development of biotechnology and life sciences in Finland. In addition to drug development, Turku has top expertise in diagnostics and life science and these are supported by material and nanotechnologies. The globally known BioTurku® community forms a continuous chain from research to business development and production.
Technology is in many ways the core competence of the industry but can hardly live without business know-how, skilled professionals, outstanding education system and breakthrough innovations. The innovation system builds on collaboration between companies, universities and research institutions, and public innovation agencies.
Among the research institutions are:
- University of Turku (Business Management, Maritime Logistics and Port operations, Algae Research, Marine Biology)
- Turku University of Applied Sciences (Mechanical and Production Engineering, Industrial Management, Automation and Transportation Engineering; Business and Business Logistics)
- Åbo Akademi (Industrial Management, Energy and Environmental engineering)
- Novia University of Applied Sciences (Master Mariner, Watchkeeping Officer or Watchkeeping Engineer)
The blue economy of tomorrow in Southwest Finland – our vision
The visions for the region include maintaining and strengthening the high levels of education and research, and the position in international markets (amongst others) in the fields of food/ bio industry, ICT, energy and environmental technology and maritime industries.
The versatile economic life in the region offers good possibilities for new innovations and experiments. A huge potential has been identified in the internalisation of both the SMEs and the R&D institutions. Clustering the different actors in the region as well as with the actors outside Southwest Finland has been identified as a crucial task in order to enhance the competitiveness of the region.
Potential Blue Areas include:
- New products and competence shifts between industries. It is important to realise that there is a lot of competence that can be used in different contexts. To find those contexts and develop flexible business models in order to serve them will be essential.
- Offshore industry, wave energy and arctic operations. Offshore exploration and production is predicted to increase despite an effort to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The Finnish cluster's competence lies especially in the fields of engineering and solutions for arctic conditions.
- Energy saving and environment regulations (new business opportunities). Owners and operators will be managing costs, not revenues over the next decade. One of the key questions is how to solve the problem of higher fuel costs brought by the stricter environmental requirements.
- New fuels. LNG, propane gas, methanol and bio fuels are important and need training as well as RDI actions in the future. New fuels will be used both in newly built ships, ship conversions and repairs.
- Sustainable tourism is a high priority for the region. The sector is growing steadily, thanks to unique nature which gives beautiful frames for nature tourism, for experiences and for health and well-being tourism, which are all growing international trends.
- Blue medicine. Turku’s drug development is known globally, and the nearly one hundred players in the BioTurku® community form a continuous chain from research to business development and production.
New markets and trends affect skills and training when new value chains are identified:
- Multi-professionalism in all levels will be needed in order to shift from one mode of production to another
- Demand for Masters and Bachelor degree level employees will increase when product and service variety develops and a large number of employees retire in 5-7 years.
- Competence driven attitude instead of technology driven.
- Upskilling and continuing studies become more and more essential.