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 479,000 inhabitants, Southwest Finland is the third biggest region in Finland. The population density is 44,9 inhabitants/ km2 and the GDP per capita is €30,975 euro (2016). Some 5,7 % of the inhabitants speak Swedish as their mother tongue in this bilingual region. 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.
Academic research and growth-seeking companies with R&D expertise have put Turku into a key position in the development of health technologies and life sciences in Finland. Half the turnover of the Finnish pharmaceutical industry is generated in Turku where the globally known HealthTurku® community forms a continuous chain from research to business development and production.
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 40 % of all Finnish maritime industry jobs. There are about 700 companies operating in its maritime industry, 20 design agencies, 15 shipping companies and 5 shipyards. Shipbuilding and maritime industry and the whole maritime cluster are regionally very important.
Meyer Turku Shipyard focuses mainly on cruisers, passenger vessels and special vessels. Meyer is investing in modernisation of the shipyard in coming years. The maritime industry employs around 8,000 people in the Turku region and the number is expected to grow in the future. Because of this there is a constant need for more qualified workers in the region.
Archipelago Sea is the most signifi cant and diverse area for fishery industry. Professional fishing and fish farming in a large scale have created a large network of transport and processing of fish in the area. Enterprises in Southwest Finland are constantly developing new technologies for eg. sustainable fish feed, recirculating aquatic systems and various sustainably produced fish products. The principles of circular economy are important in developing new innovations. There is also a lot of research on the use of algae going on in the region.
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.
Transnational cooperation interests in Blue Growth
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.
- 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.
- Autonomous shipping operations. Autonomous shipping systems are being developed in Turku. The area hosts all the players needed to build an autonomous ship.
- 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.
- 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. Putting efforts into accessibility and off-season tourism in the archipelago are important in the future.
- 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.
- Aquaculture, food production and algae. New aquaculture systems and sustainable fish feed and sustainable fish products are being developed in the region. Many companies use the principles of circular economy in their attempts to decrease food waste and nutrient flow into the Baltic Sea. University of Turku hosts a Nordic Center of Excellence on algae research.