Pohjois-Savo is located in the central of Finland. The landscape is dominated simultaneously by pristine nature and urban cityscapes, forests and over 3600 lakes. With 246,000 inhabitants Pohjois-Savo is Finland's sixth-largest region. Kuopio, the capital city of the region, is a vibrant international university town of over 118,000 inhabitants.

The regional economy of Pohjois-Savo relies on machine and energy technology, wood processing and the food industry. Plenty of top-notch international companies in the technology industry are present in the region. These businesses account for 40% of Pohjois-Savo´s export activities and 20% of its employees. Newly-increasing areas of business include wellbeing technology, water technologies and biorefinery. We´re taking strong steps to further boost their development.

The Smart Specialization Priorities of Pohjois-Savo

1. Machine and energy technology

These are the most significant industries for the economy of the region. Two of the three world leaders in combustion energy plant manufacturing are located in Pohjois-Savo. The region is also known internationally as a center of machine technology: Machine and equipment manufacturers, for e.g. mining and forestry industry, develop their products and services based on the needs of their clients. Local trust in companies, well equipped R&D environments and development funding enable successful growth for enterprises.

Success stories from Pohjois-Savo in the machine and metal industry include forest machinery (Ponsse), mining machinery (Normet), speciality vehicles (Profile Vehicles), hydraulic pile driving machines and hydraulic cylinders (Junttan, Hydroline).

2. Wood processing

Mechanical wood processing is a strong part of our economy thanks to companies offering sawmill and wood products, as well as pulp- and paper mills. Various global leaders (Keitele Group, Lunawood, Stora Enso) operate in the region. By developing measuring technologies and information network-based services, operations such as forest evaluation, marketing and the analytics of wood materials and products can be enhanced.

3. Food processing

Pohjois-Savo is one of Finland's strongest regions in milk production and milk know-how. The region is well known for its quality dairy and meat products, berries, beverages, plants and also fish and caviar. The region has a high-level of nutrition and food safety expertise thanks to a strong farming tradition and high-quality food products. The Kuopio region was awarded the European Region of Gastronomy (ERG) status for 2020. This first ERG recognition received in Finland brings international visibility for the region and food companies.

4. Wellbeing technology

Health and wellbeing technology is one of the most rapidly growing areas in Pohjois-Savo. The commercial health and wellbeing activities pursued in the region are mainly in the service sector, contract manufacturing, health technology and pharmaceutical drug development. There is also groundbreaking work being done in the commercialization of gene therapy, neurology and diagnostics high-level health technology and innovative medicines.

5. Tourism

The competitiveness of tourism is sought from internationalization. Tourism is promoted in collaboration with other eastern Finland regions in the Lakeland network, where Finland´s largest lake Saimaa area is marketed to international visitors. Nature tourism, e.g. in fishing, waterway travel, hunting, hiking, is at the core of development. Events travel is also strongly featured in the development. Sales and marketing emphasize digitalization and embrace all the new tools and opportunities it brings.

6. Cross-cutting priorities: Water technology and biorefinery

Kuopio Science Park is one of Finland's most comprehensive water expertise centers. It covers water treatment technologies and piloting, groundwaters, process monitoring, development of new water chemicals, water chemistry, risk management, water microbiology and effects of agriculture on waters. The special strength is the ability to carry out challenging pilot-scale test runs and product development testing in industrial sites. 

The development of biorefinery requires multidisciplinary expertise that is present in the region. The bioeconomy RDI-network in Pohjois-Savo serves companies and other centers of excellence on the road towards more sustainable use of natural resources while creating new special expertise and innovations to support business.

See also:

The Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo

More information on Smart Specialization in Pohjois-Savo here (pdf).