Green electrification, which refers to replacing energy generated using fossil fuels with electricity generated using renewable energy sources and using renewable energy in transport, work machines and various industrial sectors, is an important step towards a carbon-neutral future.
The City of Lappeenranta and the Town of Imatra have signed an agreement with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment regarding the strategic allocation of funding to green electrification product development and innovation work in 2021–2027.
The vision is that Finland will become the world’s most attractive and competent innovation and test environment by 2030. The state supports the realisation of this vision by enabling the allocation of resources to support the emergence of vital world-class growth ecosystems in various sectors and in 16 urban regions. One of the participating urban regions is Lappeenranta-Imatra.
“Ecosystems are all about networking activities in which the success of each participating company depends on the success of the network as a whole,” says the mayor of Lappeenranta Kimmo Jarva. “Ecosystems are formed around a certain competence. Here in Lappeenranta-Imatra, it is an internationally successful hub for energy and environmental sector operators”.
A common factor for the participating cities of the ecosystem agreements is that that their progress is based on high university-driven competence. In the Lappeenranta-Imatra urban region, the main source of competence is LUT University.
The agreement signed with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment on the strategic allocation of RDI funding to green electrification in 2021–2027 brings significant added value to the environmental cluster in the area.
“Our aim for the Lappeenranta-Imatra urban region is to build an internationally successful hub for energy and environmental sector operators that will attract companies and competence to the region,” says Development Director Markku Heinonen at the City of Lappeenranta. “The goal is to create hundreds of new jobs in the region by turning research into business opportunities”.
The LUT University and companies operating in the region can offer unique national competence gained from the product development of biofuels and synthetic fuels and various energy-efficient applications in electrical power systems. The agreement’s thematic area for the Lappeenranta-Imatra urban region is centred on the Greenreality Network (GRN).
“The agreement enables us to allocate resources to Greenreality Network’s activities and to the practical implementation of development platform solutions for companies,” says Development Manager Markku Mäki-Hokkonen at the City of Lappeenranta Economic and Urban Development Services.
The agreement also provides tools for use in international networking activities, connecting students and international experts with local businesses, business development work, and promoting the work of the Talent Hub. There is also an element of leverage for funding applications sent directly to the EU.
“The target has been set to double the amount of competitive funding awarded by the EU by 2023, and to triple it by 2027,” says Heinonen.
According to Heinonen, the funding awarded under the agreement will be allocated to strengthening mutual cooperation between companies and higher education institutions.
“During the initial phase, the resources available through the agreement will be used to recruit two specialists to handle the promotion of business and networking activities in the energy and environment sector and the application process for funding from EU Horizon and other EU funding programs”.
The regional leadership team for the ecosystem agreement is chaired by Mayor Kimmo Jarva and LUT University Rector Juha-Matti Saksa. The team also has corporate representatives from companies such as UPM, Danfoss Editron and Yaskawa.