South Savo region in Finland has a long history of Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) collaboration in the food sector. Ekoneum association was established 21 years ago as the food economics development organisation in South Savo. The members of Ekoneum include South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences - Xamk, University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute, Natural Resources Institute Finland, South Savo Vocational College Esedu and ProAgria South Savo. Ekoneum association provides research and development services through its members to develop the activities of primary production, food processing, trade, food services (including food-related digital services) and food tourism.
South Savo Regional Council hosted three workshops in the autumn of 2020, where Ekoneum members realized that there is a need to strengthen the collaboration related to food. Therefore, Ekoneum started to plan and build up a food cluster in South Savo. “The benefits of specialized clusters are clear. We are pleased to support the efforts of building clusters in sectors related to our Smart Specialisation Strategy'' tells Business and Innovation Manager Riikka Tanskanen from South Savo Regional Council.
“This is the right moment to establish closer collaboration with the companies and other stakeholders in food sector. Registration of the cluster to the European Cluster Collaboration Platform in the next few months will be a starting point for something new and exacting. Later on, the cluster will also aim at applying for a label from the EUropean Clusters Excellence Labelling Structure (EUCLES)“, sums up Research Manager Teija Rautiainen at Xamk.