Microentrepreneurship Centre of Excellence MicroENTRE takes an entrepreneurial approach to research

At the European level, micro-enterprises account for almost 95% of all companies, and they are highly significant for both the national economy and employment.
MicroENTRE tuottaa tutkimusta jolla on yrittäjämäinen sydän

Nevertheless, micro-enterprises are not featured as a separate category in most official statistics and key studies. MicroENTRE, the Microentrepreneurship Centre of Excellence operating at the University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute, is the only research group in Europe focusing on microenterprises. It produces evidence-based information that supports the development, growth and internationalisation of micro-enterprises.

A multidisciplinary approach and practical application of results with business and business service partners create societal impact. Over ten years, MicroENTRE ® has evolved from an individual regional development project into a national and international producer of new research evidence and promoter of microentrepreneurs’ skills.

Underpinned by ground-breaking research and development, e-Learning courses for micro-entrepreneurs, which can be completed independently of time and place, were launched in 2020. The principles of the new operating models and e-Learning courses aimed at developing micro-enterprises include a pragmatic approach, being underpinned by research evidence, stronger peer networks and striving for services that can be accessed whenever and wherever the user is.

Continuous dialogue

The completed research and development work was a strong argument for the Ministry of Education and Culture’s decision to assign the national mission of microentrepreneurship research and education to the University of Oulu. This mission will be fulfilled by MicroENTRE as part of University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute from 2021 onwards.

Close cooperation with companies and business service organisations is central to the activities. Through interaction, we have identified topical needs for new information and operating models, which MicroENTRE puts to practice in an agile and entrepreneurial manner. As demonstrated by our continuity and long partnerships, financiers and partners have found this work effective. In 2020, MicroENTRE worked together with more than 400 companies and other organisations. Goal-oriented efforts have been made to increase international cooperation, for example through scientific publications and project cooperation.

"Our key partners are organisations that provide business services in different parts of the country. Together with them, we are building a national partnership network, which will handle the strategic steering of our operations and facilitate mutual sharing of information. We currently have partners in nine counties, and our goal is to involve a partner from each Finnish county during the year", says Anna-Mari Simunaniemi, Research Director of MicroENTRE.

Entrepreneurship is a complex societal phenomenon, and to understand it, the research team takes a multidisciplinary approach together with specialists who have backgrounds in such fields as economics, manufacturing management, geography and educational science (entrepreneurship education). The results include more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific publications and dozens of conference papers and other publications.

"We produce research evidence related to micro-entrepreneurship, which can be turned into concrete tools and operating models for promoting the growth, internationalisation and renewal of companies. Good examples of our services are self-assessment tests intended to support the growth of companies at www.kasvavayritys.fi and e-Learning courses provided through the University of Oulu which are available whenever and wherever the learners are. We are also developing new ways of producing business services together with our partners", Simunaniemi describes the research group's societal impact.

Information based on research helps micro-entrepreneurs to improve their competence and micro-enterprises to develop, grow and internationalise. The multidisciplinary team’s motto is to be a reliable expert close to the entrepreneur. MicroENTRE conducts research with an entrepreneurial heart. Our aims also include sparking debate on the societal significance of micro-enterprises.

Eija-Riitta Niinikoski, Development Manager