KASVA - Sustainable growth in SMEs through regional collaboration of research, innovation, and business development services

The KASVA is a group project of public business services, entrepreneurs, researchers and RDI experts around the North Ostrobothnia to promote sustainable growth, renewal and development of businesses in the region, the ability to change and the living and holding power of the regions by launching a peer network of sub-regional business service providers to develop the effectiveness and awareness of business services and to increase RDI cooperation in the region.


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Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Multiple sources

Project funder

Co-funded by European Union
Haapavesi-Siikalatva regional development center
Kerttu Saalasti Foundation
Northeast Finland Development Company Naturpolis Oy
Municipality of Liminka
City of Nivala
University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute
Municipality of Utajärvi

Funding amount

1 975 000 EUR

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Project description

The project will launch a regional peer network of business service providers, which provides a platform for open and mutually supportive cooperation and new openings between business service providers. The network concept adopts the principles of peer learning and sharing good practices and experiences. The project will also produce research analyses in cooperation with business stakeholders and develop common approaches to rapidly implement this knowledge into practice for business advice and regional development actions.

Three thematic development areas have been selected for the KASVA to promote green business transition, innovation, and new business creation. Needs for policy development include the principles of the bio and circular economy, the development of product innovation, the identification of the growth potential of micro and early-stage growth enterprises and the targeted provision of a range of growth-enabling services.

The actual target groups of the project are micro and small and medium-sized enterprises and low-threshold business service organisations operating in the region. Indirectly, the project will also target educational institutions in the region.

The project will result in the creation of a regional peer network of business service providers, which will improve the quality and visibility of business advice and reduce regional disparities. Businesses will benefit from the wider knowledge of business advisors. The project will also provide up-to-date research data to support the development of business services and a model for smooth collaboration between researchers, business service providers and RDI actors in the production and application of knowledge. The project will harness regional business and innovation knowledge to generate knowledge management practices for the region, which will assist strategic or operational decision-making.

The bio and circular economy work package will produce a tool for the identification and exploitation of material side streams, which will help to identify the side streams generated by a company's activities and their potential for exploitation as new business, as well as a side stream stock exchange, which will contain the side streams of companies already identified or to be identified during the project, their quantities, qualities and estimated prices.

The innovation thematic development area will create new open and free Fab Lab innovation environments for digital manufacturing technologies in the region, facilitating the experimentation of new product ideas. Fab Lab environments will create the conditions for the growth of innovation capacity and technology skills in the region and strengthen synergies between RDI in digital manufacturing and education.

The project will develop and pilot a regional operating model for a peer-to-peer learning network of growth enterprises. Groups that are open to anyone interested in growth can be coordinated locally and regionally. The added value of the new approach will be increased networking among growth companies. The group will help companies to use different financial instruments to support growth and to identify their own growth potential. The project will also lower the threshold for small businesses in sparsely populated areas to see internationalisation as a possible form of growth.

The project is expected to contribute to green transition investments in the region, which will support business growth, employment and diversification of economic activities in the region.

The coordinator or the project is University of Oulu. Other partners are Centria University of Applied Sciences, Haapavesi-Siikalatva Region’s federation of municipalities, Northeast Finland development company Naturpolis, City of Liminka, Nivala-Haapajärvi Region NIHAK, North Ostrobothnia Entrepreneurs and ja Utajärvi Business park.

The total budget of the project is 1.975 M€ and the EU's share is 1.580 M€.
The University of Oulu's share of the total budget is 592 893 euros.

Henna Väätäinen, project manager
tel: +35850 595 9522