Kantola is the name of an estate on the municipality of Kuhmo located in the Kainuu region (Finland). The development of wood processing industry in Kantola industrial estate is the long-term goal of the Kuhmo city. Wood products have traditionally been a driving force behind the economy of forest-rich Kainuu, and determined development of the wood industry in Kuhmo began already in 1992 with the foundation of Kainuu Wood Industry Development Centre (KPKK) by the city of Kuhmo. As a result of
As a result of development, the diverse group of woodworking companies is serving the needs of the construction industry. The considerable expansion of business in Kantola has caused the need to create a new growth-oriented strategy for the development of the industrial area. For these purposes, the master plan of Kantola Industrial estate is made. Presently, the Kantola estate forms a business ecosystem of the wood industry with net sales of approximately € 100 million, 12 companies and 240 jobs where triple helix cooperation exists. The cluster is constantly expanding: in December 2014 Kuhmo Oy CrossLam Ltd., CLT-factory started; in 2016 the wooden construction component (element)-Sampo Oy started, employing 50 workers in the processing and equipment of CLT-plates. By the year 2020 industrial turnover in Kantola is likely to double (objective: EUR 170-200 million). This brings 50 to 70 new jobs. Kuhmo Wood Ltd. sawmill is also operating in Kantola industrial estate.
The cluster includes also a knowledge and research-support base: parts of Kantola Industrial Estate are developing services for companies produced by public bodies (Woodpolis and City of Kuhmo). Woodpolis is a development company (i.e. public equivalent), established in 2006 and specialised in wooden construction components matters (education and laboratories). Woodpolis has a staff of four specialists. Woodpolis partner network includes private companies, educational institutes and universities, e.g. Aalto University in Finland (triple helix cooperation). Product developing services are operated by Woodpolis. Support for strategic development of companies is made by Kantola developing project (with a staff of two persons) and by directors of Kuhmo City.
What is the challenge? There are three key challenges. The 1st challenge is that development actions (and multi-actor networks) in Kantola and Woodpolis are almost totally relying on project-based funding and the continuity of funding and operations is never certain. Kantola is primarily a basic industry (i.e. export oriented, generating external income for the region, i.e. the markets are outside Kainuu. Thus, the 2nd key challenge is locational: Kuhmo is both a long distance from markets and located in a small demand market, implying a lack of capital. Finally, the 3rd challenge is recruitment difficulties for skilled labour, again as a result of locations restrictions.
What are the next steps? Kainuu effort is to support the development of Kantola from a well-performing cluster into an industry, i.e. to increase the economies of scale aspect while maintaining & reinforcing the specialisation and upscale diversification aspects. This cannot happen except by targeted and effective internationalisation activities, both by adhering into new value chains but also by attracting more relevant actors to the region. At the same time, the funding model for Kantola & Woodpolis development projects needs to be reviewed and the sources might need to become more continuous or covering longer term initiatives.