Kainuu offers competence and a wide range of experts for companies. Services for the different stages of a company’s life cycle are provided by a number of organisations and partly on project funding. Quite often, I find myself saying that “we have more than 60 permanent and numerous project-based experts for our companies in Kainuu. Services are widely available, but do the demand and supply meet?“ Another favourite phrase of mine has been: “Could our world-class services be a pull factor that attracts talent and companies to Kainuu as part of our reputation building efforts?”

The wide range of service providers and the expertise offered by projects are still too often overlooked by customers. The customers, or entrepreneurs, companies and those intending to become entrepreneurs, do not have a clear idea of where the services can be found at any one time.  And I do not wonder why. While I deal with these issues every day, I cannot always find the right service provider myself, let alone the right contact person, with the help of Google alone.

Business service actors in Kainuu have worked together for years with varying levels of intensity. This collaboration was previously coordinated by the ELY Centre and, for a while, Kainuun Etu. The services nevertheless failed to achieve adequate visibility, especially for those who needed them infrequently. Various portals and brochures bringing together the organisations’ services have been planned and sometimes also produced along the way, but no permanent cooperation model has been found until now.

At a workshop three years ago, the business service actors decided to start developing a network-based cooperation model together, and responsibility for preparing the matter was assigned to Kainuun Yrittäjät entrepreneurs’ association. Assuming this responsibility came naturally to the association as it operates on the business interface, passing on information from and to companies, and understands the daily life of entrepreneurs and companies. It is also familiar with the business service network’s services and the organisations’ roles.

Kainuun Yrittäjät took on an active role in the development efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic was an additional impetus for closer cooperation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the entrepreneurs’ association has coordinated a network of business service actors which includes all key organisations providing services to companies. The situations and needs of companies were discussed at weekly network meetings. The network shared information on the coronavirus guidelines and the currently available supports and agreed on joint measures for informing customers.

Business Kainuu began to take shape as the network found it desirable to continue the closer cooperation in the new normal following the pandemic. Several workshops have been organised along the way to work and agree on the shared values and operating methods of the network. Business Kainuu’s service promise was also formulated in cooperation: Entrepreneurs, we will share your journey and help you reach your goals.

A network needs to be managed, too, and this is why the workshops also created a model for organisation and division of responsibilities. Management responsibilities lie on the Nyrkki group, which has representatives from Kainuun Yrittäjät, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, Kainuu ELY Centre and TE Office as well as the Regional Council of Kainuu. Business Kainuu’s core team consists of representatives from all business service organisations. Once a year, not only the network actors but also stakeholders and entrepreneurs across a broad front are invited to Kainuu Business Forum. The purpose of the Business Forum is to discuss the situation picture and future prospects of companies and to produce information on development needs, making it possible to convert them into measures.

Business Kainuu is the product of close cooperation; it lives and evolves in a changing operating environment and, in particular, as required by the customers’ needs. Entrepreneurs, we will share your journey – so support us on our way towards more attractive and the world’s best business services in Kainuu.

Anu Tervonen