The first day was dedicated to deepening the collaborative approach between the project partners fostered during the kick-off meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, and to highlight the focus of the workshop: Innovation and transfer of knowledge. The aim of the workshop is to discuss and develop how an innovation strategy can be introduced by the new owner to raise the value of the company., as well as how corporate strategy and culture must be considered to make the innovation successful.
The first day began with a political statement by Mr. Pentti Malinen, Regional mayor of Kainuu, followed by consecutive thematic lectures by external regional experts, the first delivered by Mr. Pekka Ojalehto, Managing Director of Kainuu region's Entrepreneurs Association, entitled "Overview of Business Transfer in Finland", highlighting a unique overview of Generation Shift Business transfers in Finland. Followed by Mr. Toni Piirainen, Managing Director of Planray Ltd, who discussed a proven initiative of "generation shift and business innovation management", of which is an identified best practice example of Innovation and transfer of knowledge.
This followed with all partners contributing a short presentation on the workshop topic and highlighting the intricacies of each region. The afternoon was dedicated to an interactive working session based on the morning's theme, the methods and moderation of which were controlled by the advisory partner. Through the session, the "succession guidelines tool" was produced. A free to use, concise and practical guide for owners, successors, advisors and entrepreneurs on the practicalities of business succession with an emphasis on the steps that can be taken internal, as well as on the steps where external advice is suggested.
Day two of the workshop was dedicated to a peer review and began with a deeper introduction to the region by Mr. Pentti Malinen, Regional mayor of Kainuu, where he touched on various aspects regarding business transfers; including the challenges and problems faced, focal industries as well as regional demographic issues. Questions were distributed in advance and gave a strong foundation for a lively and inclusive discussion.
Following the regional mayor's introduction, four examples of regional good practices were proposed, which represented a wide angled view of business transfers. The first case, by Mr. Toni Piirainen of PlanRay Ltd, focused on "family transfer" and the "Next generation", with the core theme of innovation renewal and expansion. The second case expanded on specific employee transfer scenarios, presented by entrepreneur Mr. Ville Keränen, who discussed the government funding institute Finnvera, and other examples of growth and management renewal transfer. Mr. Matti Luukonen and Mr. Markus Leinonen from Kainuun Etu Ltd., provided a case study describing an employee buyout administered by Kainuun Etu Ltd, discussing service models for supporting the transferee to proceed, once again highlighting the importance of Finnvera's funding instruments for business transfer. The final case study, presented by Mr. Carl Wideman, explained Kainuun Etu ltd.'s services to a local Hotel opera-tor to prepare the business for transfer, identification of external transferees and also the power and dynamics of the market. Each of the good practice presentations gave the workshop participants an excellent foundation for an active and constructive discussion.
A panel discussion concluded the workshop's morning session and was implemented using the fishbowl approach. Panel members included members of the Regional council of Kainuu, external experts from the previous day, representatives from the Entrepreneur's association, the presenters of the case studies as well as senior representatives of Kainuu Etu. . Discussions highlighted challenges within the region with regard to business transfer services, including the lack of a regional database of businesses ready to sell/transfer, and also a centralized family business center, it was agreed establishing these processes would benefit the business transfer phase. Highlights and key messages were noted during the panel in preparation for the afternoon.
The afternoon session began with a SWOT-analysis for Kainuu where previously discussed specific topics were arranged by the group accordingly into the matrix in regard to the region and its business transfer dynamics. The low population density, the ageing population and the peripheral location of the region are all challenges that need to be overcome and, with the learning from this project, to ensure that economic life will continue to thrive in the next generation of Kainuu entrepreneurs.
The second workshop provided a highly valuable experience for all of the 30 participants and looking forward and motivated to meet once again. STOB regions next inter regional workshop will be held in Kraków, Poland on the 13th and 14th December 2017.