Innovation leader brings together different parties

An innovation leader is an enabler who works for the benefit of all operators in the Joensuu region. An innovation leader's duty is to clarify the service offering of business operations in the Joensuu region. An innovation leader brings together companies, developers and research and education organisations. The aim is to have the region serve companies and various fields of operation more efficiently than before.

Core competence areas in the Joensuu region include forest bioeconomy, technology and materials as well as creative industry and content production. A key part of the work carried out by an innovation leader is committing companies to innovation operations in these fields. Three themed groups have been assembled for this purpose that consist of local anchor companies and growth-seeking small and medium-sized enterprises.

Growth strategy into concrete actions

An innovation leader is also in charge of managing the implementation of the growth strategy in the Joensuu region. Green growth governs the development of the city and creates new opportunities for developing companies. Through the renewal of city structure and services, the entire region will develop in such a way that the entity will become more vital than before.

Top expertise in the core competence areas must be packaged into a more distinct and commercial entity so that new companies wish to locate in the region.  Choices will have to be made on which sectors companies have the best opportunity to succeed in.  The Joensuu region can be made into a more attractive centre of green growth through the common innovation work of various operators. An innovation leader will make the Joensuu region and its core competence areas well known. An innovation leader both creates and strengthens relations that are important to the Joensuu region at national and international events and meetings of various industries.

An innovation leader works for the benefit of all operators in the Joensuu region.

Background to innovation operations

The aim was to have an external perspective to support innovation operations and decision-making in the Joensuu region in order to determine whether correct choices have been made and which issues would require improvements. According to a review on the current status of the local innovation environment, several good choices have been made. There were also some defects that were identified.

Various business services must be clarified and it must be easier to find them. Concrete cooperation between the public sector, companies and organisations must be increased. For example, closer cooperation between research and education organisations with companies would strengthen development work carried out in the region.

A conductor for the entire Joensuu region

The new role of an innovation leader fits naturally into the organisation of Joensuu Science Park Ltd.  The Science Park coordinated the growth strategy work in the Joensuu region and led the application process for Joensuu's Innovative Cities programme and is now in charge of its implementation.

An innovation leader works for the benefit of all operators in the Joensuu region. No one can manage alone. Therefore, seamless and fair cooperation with all local organisations and operators is essential. Everyone's input is needed in the financial development of the area.

At the initial phase, a two-year project is created to fund the work being carried out.

Key cooperation organisations

  • North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium
  • North Karelia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre)
  • University of Eastern Finland
  • Joensuu Regional Development Company JOSEK Ltd
  • Regional Council of North Karelia
  • Joensuu Science Park Ltd
  • Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Organisation of operations

An Executive Team manages the work carried out by an innovation leader. Besides the Executive Team and theme groups, the work carried out by an innovation leader is also boosted by an extensive interest group event that is organised once a year. This extensive expert network and a direct connection to the corporate sector help monitor changes that occur in the operating environment and identify renewal needs.

Executive Team

Chairperson, the Mayor of Joensuu Kari Karjalainen, city of Joensuu
Secretary, Innovation Leader Aki Gröhn, Joensuu Science Park Ltd 


Director Ilkka Pirskanen, North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium

Director Ritva Saarelainen, North Karelia ELY Centre

Rector Jukka Mönkkönen, University of Eastern Finland 

CEO Pekka Nuutinen, Joensuu Regional Development Company JOSEK Ltd 

Region Mayor, Regional Council of North Karelia

CEO Jari Lauronen, Joensuu Science Park Ltd 

Rector Petri Raivo, Karelia University of Applied Sciences 

Theme groups

Companies are involved in operations through theme groups.

The forest and bioeconomy theme group is led by Joensuu Science Park Ltd. 

Material technology theme group is led by Development Manager Juha Purmonen, Joensuu Science Park Ltd.