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Showcasing Finland’s digital capabilities

Forum Virium Helsinki’s role is to profile the digital capabilities of the Helsinki region, and Finland generally, and help forge the region into a dynamic product and service development hub in the digital arena.
Forum Virium Helsinki

Forum Virium Helsinki acts as a neutral and independent cooperation cluster for bringing together ideas and content creators with companies, large and small, and public-sector organisations.

One of Forum Virium Helsinki’s projects to have been completed was based around a photo and video diary service for children’s day care centres. Photo © Olli-Pekka Orpo.

The cluster was founded on the initiative of a number of major players, including Destia, Elisa, Nokia, TeliaSonera, Tieto, Logica, the YIT Group, and the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Partner companies include Digita, Itella, MTV Media, SOK, Sanoma Entertainment, and Vaisala. The public sector is represented by the City of Helsinki; Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund; Tekes, the Finnish Funding for Technology and Innovation; and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Forum Virium Helsinki’s role is that of a neutral matchmaker for partners, to help drive their future concepts, programmes, and projects forward – by focusing on enablers such as networking and interaction, communication, and innovation environments. As its name implies, Forum Virium Helsinki is also strongly committed to promoting the development of the Helsinki region.

Forum Virium Helsinki differs from most other clusters in that the projects it becomes involved with originate among the members of its network, which helps ensure that they are grounded in true business drivers and real-life customer needs.

Ongoing initiatives

Operations are based around launching and coordinating new projects selected in cooperation with companies from different business areas and the City of Helsinki. A number of these are joint private-public initiatives. Five areas are currently being focused on: health, learning, media, traffic, and innovation communities.

The Forum Virium Helsinki SME Partnership Programme is designed to promote the growth of small and medium-sized businesses operating in the rapidly expanding digital content and service sector, and enhance their access to the international market and overall dynamism.

Cooperation with the large companies in the FVH network is also emphasised, as are new tools to support the growth and development of new business expertise.

The role of Forum Virium Helsinki is to coordinate development projects to promote next-generation digital services and business models, help create Living Lab test environments to trial them in, and leverage the international potential of their results. Photo © Janne Orava.  

Living Labs

One of the major information society projects during Finland’s EU Presidency in 2006 was the establishment of the European Network of Living Labs (EnoLL). The Helsinki Living Lab, formed by Forum Virium Helsinki and Art and Design City Helsinki (ADC), was one of the first wave of 20 Living Labs in 16 countries. Following the third wave of launches, the network now has 129 members.

The idea behind the Living Labs concept is to develop real-life test laboratories in which new innovations can be studied in actual urban environments – with the entire network acting as a large-scale test environment for new information and communication services, technologies, and business, and the development of new markets.

The underlying vision is to move away from seeing users as simply the object of research and consumers of industry-driven innovations and to empower them to play an active role in co-creating innovations and end-products.


Digital well-being in Helsinki

Healthy Helsinki – currently Forum Virium Helsinki’s main project – is intended to help encourage greater understanding of the critical importance of well-being by giving people the opportunity to take part in the creation of new welfare services and developing existing ones.

Welfare and health services, which have been thoroughly tested and which really respond to real-life needs in this way, are much more likely to make an impact at home, school, and at work.

Companies will benefit by being able to develop and test new product ideas; and the plan is to develop the best ideas from the Healthy Helsinki project into commercial products and launch them internationally. The City of Helsinki should also benefit, as the project is expected to provide the catalyst for providing better-focused services locally.

Launched in 2008 and lasting until 2011, the Healthy Helsinki project involves the City of Helsinki, Forum Virium Helsinki, and residents, companies, and organisations in the Herttoniemi district of the city, where the project is based. Corporate partners include Elisa, Logica, Mawell, Medineuvo, Medixine, Nokia, Palmia, Tieto, and VTT.

Diaries and TV

Two Forum Virium Helsinki projects that have already been completed are a photo and video diary service for children’s day care centres and the Finnish Mobile TV project.

The photo and video diary service was piloted successfully in 2006, and resulted in the creation of a new spin-off company, ConnectedDay. The Finnish Mobile TV project focused on researching user demand for content and services on mobile TV, and involved a test group using commercial and new trial-level mobile TV services for a period of six months. Details of the results can be found at www.finnishmobiletv.com/finpilot2.

> Jarmo Eskelinen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2009)