Smart Specialisation » S3 Blue growth and industrial modernisation

Blue growth and industrial modernisation

Blue growth is a broad concept that signifies sustainable maritime industries such as shipbuilding, transport, fishing and tourism. The key focus areas defined by the European Commission Blue Growth Strategy are maritime energy production, aquaculture, maritime tourism, biotechnology and seabed mineral resources. Cross-cutting targets are employment, added value creation and sustainability.

In Southwest Finland the maritime industry (especially shipbuilding), supported by the widely connected subcontracting and training network, is the engine for blue growth. Southwest Finland’s maritime industry employs 8,000 people in approximately 400 companies. This represents 27% of the total maritime industry jobs in Finland. Of all the companies in the sector, 30% are located in Southwest Finland and their turnover represents 28% of the sector’s turnover. Four higher education institutions providing education in the sector are located in Turku.

Southwest Finland’s blue growth priorities are technology industry and especially maritime industry as well as blue bioeconomy

A strong hub of research, development and innovation activities and development of skills

The higher education institutions in Turku, City of Turku and Turku Science Park Ltd. signed a contract in 2018 to increase the attractiveness and cooperation in the fields of technology through TechCampus Turku. TechCampus Turku is a regional ecosystem that promotes technological education and research in the four higher education institutions of Turku, i.e. University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, Turku University of Applied Sciences and Novia University of Applied Sciences. Moreover, the campus also unites the resources of the higher education institutions to support the product development and innovation activities of the area.

The higher education institutions of Turku train Doctors and Masters of Science in Technology, Bachelors in Technology, Bachelors of Science and professionals in navigation to fulfil the increasing future needs in the area. The goal of the TechCampus is to answer to the demands of the industrial transition by creating a strong hub of technical expertise in Turku to promote the competitiveness of Southwest Finland and the development of companies in the area.

The STEAM Turku project, which is part of the TechCampus entity, is creating a new education operating model for the City of Turku for increasing the attractiveness of science and technology. It builds a science and technology path combining early childhood, basic and upper secondary level education and offers direct paths to further studies between universities and companies, and the Turku TechCampus.

Innovations of companies and international networks create competitive advantage

There are several activities supporting cooperation on company level in Southwest Finland. New business and maritime industry development are generated in the region through the Maritime Accelerator programme. This programme combines the sector’s leading companies and small international growth companies in order to accelerate cooperation between them. The purpose of the programme is to create competitive advantage to partner companies by sharing solutions among industries and thereby strengthening the competitiveness of the Finnish maritime industry.

Turku Future Technologies is a research, development and innovation network that serves the various needs of the technology industry and increases the technical skill level and competitiveness of local companies. The Blue Industry Park next to Turku Meyer Oy’s shipyard will be transformed into a maritime industry area which will support the global competitiveness of the subcontracting network related to the construction of cruise ships. The Blue Navigator Ecosystem aims at launching research and development projects that will improve the overall competitiveness of the companies and maritime industry network operating in the Blue Industry Park area.

The maritime industry actors in Southwest Finland are active members in European and global networks. The objective of international network cooperation is to boost the competitiveness of the European maritime industry and highlight the significance of the maritime industry as a strategic sector. Priority for Southwest Finland concerning the cooperation’s content and orientation will be given to regions with significant maritime industry, where education, research and development are emphasised in addition to maritime production operations.

Simultaneously, it is essential to participate in local and national reference networks and strengthen their operations in order to discover new value chains and opportunities, and to develop the competitiveness of the technology industry in the Southwest Finland region. Thus, long-term cooperation is being built between universities of technology within Southwest Finland as well as elsewhere in Finland and internationally.

Blue bioeconomy

The blue bioeconomy concept draws the attention to sources of livelihood that are based on waters and water protection. Sustainable blue bioeconomy refers to diverse use of blue resources while safeguarding the preconditions and ensuring the renewal of operating models. The actions will support the utilisation of local resources as well as the achievement of water and sea protection goals.

Conditions in Southwest Finland are favourable for promoting the blue bioeconomy revolution. In addition to maritime nature and resources, the region offers know-how and traditions in utilising blue natural resources and promotion of sea protection. Southwest Finland already has extensive competence in blue bioeconomy. The region reinforces its international position by actively offering solutions for sustainable development challenges also on the global markets.

Actions and coordination to promote the priorities

In 2019–2021, measures related to the blue growth and industrial modernisation are:

  • Making the TechCampus a strong and wide ecosystem of technical expertise in Turku to promote the competitiveness of Southwest Finland and the development of companies in the area.
  • Strengthening foresight and predictive working methods by utilising for example the Southwest Finland Foresight Academy environment and methods.
  • Increasing international visibility, partnership and cooperation projects by joining in at least one of the European Union’s smart specialisation platform partnerships.
  • Carrying out multilateral promotion of interests in European maritime associations and consortia as well as bilateral European network cooperation between strong marine areas.
  • Supporting the cooperation between the leading blue growth companies and small international growth companies and their networking with higher education institutions.
  • Enhancing sustainable blue bioeconomy and use of marine areas in accordance with measures defined in the maritime spatial planning.

The measures are coordinated by Turku Science Park Ltd., regional marine expert group and the Regional Council of Southwest Finland in active cooperation and dialogue with research institutions, universities and companies in the region.

More information:
Network Manager Vesa Erkkilä, Turku Science Park Ltd.
Tel. +358 400 806 256, E-mail

Development Manager Petteri Partanen, Regional Council of Southwest Finland
Tel. +358 40 7760 630, E-mail