A Thematic network operating in South Karelia (NUTS3) region in Southeast Finland. Consist of member companies, municipalities and RDI parties (e.g. university)
The Greenreality Network (GRN) was originated by local companies working in the field of energy, bio and resource efficiency. The first idea was to gather thematically private companies product/service offers and expand their market through joint events and communications. The homebase for the GRN secretary is City of Lappeenranta. The network started municipal, but later expanded to become regional.
The goal of the common activities is to serve as a platform to accelerate the development of new business and products and joint projects. Some examples of activities include knowledge transfer, enhancing local demonstrations and piloting, common investment goals. The GRN is a platform for continuous co-creation with annual general meetings, monthly steering group meetings and member activities. Regular membership days and fieldtrips, annual event for wide public. There are also thematic subgroups operational for e.g. energy efficient buildings, solar economy, sustainable traffic.
The network serves as a valuable source of expertise and partner for regional smart specialization process. Sustainability and low-carbon issues have been high on the regional agenda before the topic started mainstreaming. GRN is also a forum for discussing current policy issues. Strong company involvement provides an instant reality check for public officials. One goal is to improve public practices in order to better support new business growth within the region.
Minimum resource salary costs for a network coordinator and some funds for communications and meetings equals approx. 200 000 eur/year. The Greenreality Network started with public project funding. Later membership fees have been adopted but projects are still used for carrying on activities.
Evidence of success
Energy and environment related business sector has grown in South Karelia over the last years. The City of Lappeenranta has been awarded European Green Leaf Award 2021. The GRN has been successful in
- promoting the green business visibility within the region, nationally and internationally
- has served as a platform for launching large, multi-stakeholder projects
- has given the industry a platform to a continuous dialogue with academia and public service around "green transition" themes.
Private companies are selective with their time resources. The value added of cooperation needs to be displayed in concrete terms. Trust is required in order to be able to dig into more strategic joint projects. Long-term commitment of the operator is required. This has proven very valuable here.
Potential for learning or transfer
We offer the concept as a good practice because at EU level the quadruple helix and co-innovation thinking has gained wide interest. Models are needed on how to adopt platforms for continuous dialogue across the continent and to enhance the entrepreneurial discover process (EDP) required for S3/S4.