Antti Toivanen, Managing Director of Kainuun Etu Ltd, Kainnu Regional Development Company,
Jouni Ponnikas, Director of Regional Development, Regional Council of Kainuu

Tuomo Tahvainen, Director of Tourism, Creative industry, Food sector, Kainuun Etu Ltd.

How did you find the peer review,  has the exchange with peers generated relevant and useful insights?

The peer review was a milestone for our actions. For the last three years of the project implementation we have been exchanging best practices and learning from each other. Now we have the action plan contents improved. The peer review was very useful, because it provided a valuable feedback from the partners and the Joint Research Centre Lagging Regions project, including critical comments (such as clarifying how access to market for our Acton 1 is ensured). This makes us think deeper about what we are planning to do.

BRIDGES aims at improving the RIS3 delivery on the ground. In your opinion, does the action plan contribute effectively to this purpose?

The Action plan of Kainuu region is totally concentrated on implementing the RIS3 strategy. It is based on the needs we have identified thanks to processes we went through in BRIDGES. One of the most promising aspects of our proposed action plan is that it introduces valorisation of the forest industry side-flows (lignin) towards new applications. This is done through a comprehensive approach we test through one of the GPs we imported (Bio Science Centre). Another important part of our action plan is that we will apply to the Joint Research centre (JRC) for an innovation platform on berry & associated natural resources industries modernisation (we call it BERRY + platform). This action was inspired by another good practice (Big Data Traceability in the agrifood sector). The innovation platforms are key tools for European regions to implement RIS3. As a part of the platform we are also creating opportunities and instruments for a long-term international cooperation.

Is there something special about BRIDGES? How would you describe it?

For Kainuu, a very strong aspect in BRIDGES is the fact that we have built a very strong stakeholder group, including all key stakeholders from the region. Our stakeholder group is very committed to support the implementation of the action plan and the same our RIS3 strategy. BRIDGES makes things happen faster. One of the examples is the lignin business being developed together with some big companies operating in our region. It is very much in line with our RIS3 strategy, that we try to foster the leading companies and clusters and the  cooperation between R&D and companies. In BRIDGES we are doing what we have prioritised in the RIS3 strategy.

Has the interregional cooperation been useful? Has is fulfilled  its tasks?

Well, our action plan, it has two actions; both of them derive from good practices, as already mentioned. Furthermore, we have submitted three good practices to the policy learning platform (PLP) (Kantola, MITY, and Large research infrastructures) which have been evaluated and accepted to the Interreg Europe data base, and two of them are imported by three partners. A lot of interregional, multilateral and bilateral cooperation has been required to reach where we are today.
Also, BRIDGES special for relationships we have developed between & among people at personal and organisational level. We learn from people with different professional and cultural backgrounds. This is a very good learning process for all of us. We are a small population and therefore, also a small critical mass region. International cooperation and networks are a “must” in Kainnu region.