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South Karelia Growth Builders showcases in Nantes development strategies for remote regions

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EBN’s mission to identify, celebrate, disseminate, and spotlight the most effective business support practices within the EU|BIC community will be on stage 13 June at the CIC Ouest’s, the venue for the EBN Congress 2024

The Cities of Lappeenranta (an EU|BIC since 2010) and Imatra will showcase their programme, South Karelia Growth Builders, in Nantes. These municipalities took action after a concerning report from the Federation of Finnish Enterprises highlighted a decline in South Karelia’s growth. To address this issue, Lappeenranta and Imatra designed a programme aimed at reversing this trend in their border region. Being one of the 7 nominees competing for the Most Impactful Programme title in the EU|BIC Excellence Awards final will pave the path for other remote regions to follow.

european business and innovation centre network 40 years anniversary supporting eubics

The European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN), celebrating its 40th anniversary, aims to highlight the best practices within the EU|BICs.

South Karelia lacks a systematic coaching programme for growth companies, specifically those employing 10-49 individuals, who statistically create the most jobs. This bottleneck hampers regional development. While there are numerous growth programmes in Finland, South Karelia requires a unique programme tailored to its specific needs.

This programme is Southern Karelia Growth Builders. A free eight-month programme aimed at accelerating company growth through tailored support and comprehensive tools. Participating SMEs collaborate with experts to create and implement a growth roadmap. The programme includes five workshops and five Growth Board meetings, selecting 10 SMEs from South Karelia employing 10-49 individuals. This group tends to generate significant regional impact by creating new jobs. The programme also features simultaneous coaching paths for startups, SMEs, and micro-enterprises, fostering cross-pollination of ideas and growth opportunities.

The primary beneficiaries are growth companies aiming to reach the Mittelstand category, employing 10-49 individuals. South Karelia has approximately 290 companies in this target group. The goal is to help these companies grow to employ over 50 individuals and enhance their internationalisation opportunities. Indirect beneficiaries include students from LUT University and LAB University of Applied Sciences, and large companies through corporate venturing collaborations.

The goal is to help companies employing 10-49 individuals to grow to over 50 employees and enhance their internationalisation opportunities

The programme has been running throughout 2023 and 2024. The pilot phase involved 10 carefully selected companies and included workshops, Growth Board sessions, and interim coaching. The pilot lasted eight months and utilised a hybrid format, with in-person workshops and remote Growth Board sessions. Each company’s Growth Board comprised experts, venture capitalists, and city business experts. Participants engaged in themed workshops, developed pitch decks, and concluded with a final presentation.

South Karelia Growth Builders pitch

As the EBN Congress 2024 approaches, anticipation is building. This landmark event will unite key innovators and leaders in business support. City of Lappeenranta’s success story extends beyond South Karelia, pitching it to the public of the EBN Congress.

The EBN’s mission of promoting global collaboration and knowledge exchange among the 7 finalists and the broader EU|BIC community will have an excellent role model with the Finnish EU|BIC, whose 20 beneficiaries over 2023 and 2024 and contribute to a stronger, greener and more technological economy in South Karelia and Europe. Now, with its place in the EU|BIC Excellence Awards final, it will broaden their impact to the international stage.

With this showcase we conclude the last sneak peek of the 7 finalist programmes. See you in Nantes for the EBN Congress 2024!

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