Gaming cluster implements successfully smart specialisation strategy in Kainuu region in Finland and responds to the challenge of positive structural change.
PROBLEM ADDRESSED: The problem addressed is threefold: 1) addressing regional economic renewal through 2) the development of technology industries and in parallel 3) taking measures to retain young, educated population in the region.

HOW OBJECTIVES ARE REACHED: The gaming industry was developed as a response to the above and benefitted from the ICT background of the region. The strategy followed was to start to run one of the very first game educational programmes in Finland in 2006. After some testing and experience a full time game development studies started in 2009. In parallel to the educational measures, the strategy included founding KAJAK Games, a co-op to serve as the very first “employer” and platform to practice the different disciplines of game development. Thus, students started their professional life already with a portfolio of finished and published games when they graduated. This startegy aimed at facilitating the transition from student to entrepreneurial status. However, the new gaming businesses soon came across with two new types of challenges, equally important for the success of the ventures: financing & continuous development of the gaming competences of the entrepreneurs. Then the Kavio cluster programme, undertook to support marketing, investment meetings, bootcamps and an incubator programme.
STAKEHOLDERS: Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, the Reg. Council of Kainuu, gaming industry & students, Kainuun Etu.

Resources needed

1) KAMK : Gaming education, Ministry of Education and Culture, since 2006 to-date=12 years, appr. 1m€ total. Current annual 1,5m€.
2) Kainuun Etu (KE): gaming business & environment
2.1) Kavio Cluster & Kavio Brewery, 750 000€, 24m, 2015 - 2017
2.2) Kavio Publishing, 260 000€, 14m, 2018-2019.

Evidence of success

1) Education: Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK): gaming courses (2006) to gaming degree (2008);further specialisation in game development and e-sports business.
2) Business & cluster development, Kainuun Etu (KE): 30 gaming SMEs; 15 studios, 160 -200 jobs; 5m€ investments; 2m€ subcontracting; 10m€ turnover (2017). marketing, investment meetings, bootcamps, incubator programme, building of community feeling.
3) Gaming as an industry integrated into the regional policy priorities.

Difficulties encountered

1) Critical mass remains a challenge even though game development industry has been gaining a stronger background. 2) Mindset impact: gaming industry is more than a game; business can start even during study times.

Potential for learning or transfer

1) The policy approach is transferable: The gaming cluster of Kainuu demonstrates how industrial renewal can be done and it is a good example of smart specialisation. Kainuu has traditionally had a strong know-how in ICT; it also requires renewal, and the gaming industry (games and simulators) is one of the answers.
2) The project & programme development approaches are transferable and we are happy to share more information on them if needed.
3) The project costs are reasonable, the educational costs are higher, but then it is investing in the build up of an emerging industry.
4) The most challenging has been a well functioning regional cooperation eco system, as innovation complementarities take longer to explore.

Contact person: Timo Ylikangas, [email protected]

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Main institution
Kainuun Etu Oy
Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi, Finland (Suomi)
Start Date
August 2006
End Date


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