Smart Specialisation Strategy for Central Finland


The Smart Specialisation Strategy for Central Finland aims to recognize the region’s competitive strengths. As the world is changing in an accelerating speed, Central Finland needs to be able to adjust to rapid changes. The objective is to support growth and adapt to structural changes, both positive and negative, by creating resilience. The economic instability, tentative power politics, and climate change all pose challenges for preparing for the future.

Thorough work on various future scenarios when building Central Finland’s strategy for year 2040 has built a strong basis for the Smart specialisation Strategy. Recognising the competitive strengths and focusing on chosen fields of expertise builds resilience for the region. The Smart Specialisation Strategy aims to prepare Central Finland for the rapidly changing business environment.

Central Finland’s competitive strength is the ability to combine the five focus areas. The interfaces between bioeconomy, digital economy, knowledge-based economy, well-being-related economy, and tourism, create new business opportunities, innovations, and enterprises. The actors on these fields are encouraged to create interdisciplinary solutions. Co-creation and interaction between focus areas is encouraged and nurtured.

The Smart Specialisation Strategy for Central Finland is based on the Regional Programme for Central Finland 2018-21. The process was inclusive, and the key actors in the region participated actively. The cooperation during the process created a sense of shared objectives and strengthened the shared ambition for growth and wellbeing in Central Finland.




  • New innovations and business models enable the development of circular economy (RDI)
  • When fully utilized, bio-based side streams create business opportunities
  • Further processing of products leads to a full endorsement of the agriculture’s potential

As the usage of forests increases, sustainable solutions need to be endorsed. Central Finland has versatile sources for biomass as well as exceptional research, development, and innovation environment in the field of bioeconomy. Education and public policies need to support tackling the climate change and protecting nature, which is essential in the region. Bioeconomy is recognized as a strength of the whole region of Central Finland.

Bioeconomy allows the transition towards low carbon economy, with the increasing opportunities for circular economy. New innovations and business models can be reach by combining research, product development, and industries working for the same goal. Focusing on renewable energy sources enhances Central Finland’s competence and affects significantly on regional economy, as well as reduces the usage of fossil fuels. As the bioeconomy is export-driven, international benchmarking is required.

Central Finland has underutilized potential for agriculture and blue economy. Further processing and distribution need to be improved to reach our full potential. Versatile and sustainable usage of our lakes is recognised as a priority.


Digital economy


  • Central Finland has nationally and internationally significant competence around cyber security
  • Emerging business in digital services

In the field of digital economy, Central Finland has competitive advances; we have active ICT-businesses and development around digital economy. Focus in Central Finland is on cyber security, education, and development.

Central Finland has nationally and internationally significant competence around cyber security. Defence administration, University of Jyväskylä and the Jyväskylä University of Applied Science’s IT-institute (JYVSECTEC) have concentrated resources in the study, education, and testing of cyber security. Strong links between academia and businesses in cyber security are the key to Central Finland’s success in the field.

Central Finland aims to produce business models and innovations to create functional digital services. As digitalisation challenges conventional services and ways of working, further development is required. Actors in Central Finland focus on development of programmes and e-services to obtain high level of public services online.

Emerging topics for Central Finland’s future business include big data, robotics, intelligence networks, and artificial intelligence. In Central Finland, we see that these technologies have potential especially in the field of health services.


Knowledge-based economy


  • Central Finland has the potential to become one of the top centres for science and education
  • The objective is to match the competence with profitable business models
  • Central Finland has a strong concentration of ICT-competence, which supports innovation

Education and expertise are recognized as competitive strengths in Central Finland. The University of Jyväskylä has a strong educational focus, and our teacher education is globally acknowledged. Central Finland has the potential to become one of the top centres for science and education in Finland and in specific principles, globally. Educational institutes have adopted digitalisation as part of their processes and apply digital learning as part of their curricula.

The growth in the region is built on entrepreneurship and the strengthening of existing business models. The objective is to match the competence with profitable business models. Here innovation and commercialisation play a huge role. Links between academia and business are required to further develop innovations.

 Strong academia support innovation. For example, Central Finland has a strong concentration of ITC-competence, which supports innovation in the field.


Wellbeing-related economy


  • Health technology, digitalisation, and ICT create new opportunities for innovation
  • Combining research and innovation allows the development of health services

The re-organisation of resources for pubic health care sets a new challenge for municipalities and businesses to provide health services. This also creates new growth possibilities, especially in Central Finland, where both research and innovation on social and health sectors are top-quality. Central Finland has the potential to become the centre of excellence for wellbeing. Finland’s only university faculty on sports and health science is located in Central Finland.

Health technology, digitalisation, and ICT create new opportunities for innovation. Central Finland has advanced conditions for business activity, provided by diverse research and knowledge. Education supports this development. Wellbeing-related industries are among the fastest growing industries on a global scale. Development of wellbeing technologies has become one of the main focus areas in wellbeing-related economy for Central Finland

Central Finland has a concentration of competence regarding to rehabilitation and support services. Our new hospital will be a modern platform for health-ICT co-creation.




  • Various events, ecotourism, and cultural landscapes add to Central Finland’s attractiveness
  • Central Finland is the sauna region of the World

Central Finland has a versatile potential regarding to tourism. Region’s pull factors include various events, multiple resorts for ecotourism (including e.g. national parks, pure lakes, and forests), cultural landscapes, cultural activities, and local food. These all can be benefitted as ways to endorse the regions attractiveness. The diversified nature of Central Finland provides numerous opportunities for nature-related tourism.

Central Finland is the sauna region of the world, which is utilized to appeal to international visitors. Sauna region compiles Central Finland’s pristine nature with modern well-being services. During the Sauna Region Week, the sauna culture in nurtured and introduced to visitors. Well-being-related tourism derives from diverse nature-related services and high level technological support tools. The link between technology and tourism is evident.

Changing seasons of Central Finland provide a competitive advance for all-year-around services. The four seasons are acknowledged, and they provide numerous possibilities for tourism services.




The Smart Specialisation Strategy for Central Finland is derived from the Regional Programme since the Programme recognises Central Finland’s competitive strengths and sets five priorities for future development. The angle of the Smart Specialisation Strategy is different from the Regional Programme, and therefore producing the Strategy required analysing five focus areas and studying of the key functions and components that affect them in Central Finland.

The Smart Specialisation Strategy for Central Finland is based on the Regional Programme for Central Finland 2018-2021. The focus of the process for the Regional Platform was on public participation and transparency. The Central Finland’s Regional Strategy for 2040 was the start point.

The process for selecting the strategic priorities for Central Finland began in the beginning of 2016. Various possibilities for discussion were provided. The groups involved include, for example, local MP’s, municipality mayors, local chamber of commerce, the experts working on the Regional Council, Health and Social Services Reform, and Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the NGO’s. In addition, the governing bodies of Central Finland had various opportunities to discuss throughout the process.

To endorse participation and openness, three events for public discussions were held in autumn 2017. The events were organized together with the municipalities and were held in different parts of the region. Participants represented local communities, NGO’s, and public authorities. The draft for the platform was available for feedback online. The Regional Board approved the Regional Programme in December 2017.



By 2021 Central Finland should have






10 000 new jobs on private sector


70 777 80 800
2 000 new enterprises


16 424 18 400
increased exports by 2 billion euros


2.59 billion € 4.6 billion €
Enterprises invest 60% into RDI


41% 60%






Number of inhabitants 276,196 280,000
Foreign-born population 9,967 12,000
Projected old age dependency ratio 0.35 0.39
Competence and economy    
Added value/inhabitant (whole nation = 100) 82 86
jobs 102,959 113,000
Taxed income/beneficiary (whole nation = 100) 89 92
RDI-investments (millions) 216 300
Tertiary education (over 15 yrs olds) 28.8% 31.0%
Unemployment rate 10.6% 7.0%
Employment rate (15 – 64 yrs olds) 64.8% 69.0%
Youth unemployment rate (18 – 24 yrs olds) 22.6% 16.0%
Well-being and participation    
Morbidity index (whole nation = 100) 106.3 104.5
Basic social assistance receivers 7.7% 6.5%
Population without education beyond comprehensive school 12.4 % 11.0%
Greenhouse emissions 1000t CO2-eq 2,441 2,195
Pollution of waterbodies, phosphorus/nitrogen, Tn/a 350 / 9 900 330 / 9 760
EU funding supporting low carbon economy (% of all) 13.4% 25.0%