Regional Council of Kainuu, Kainuu Entrepreneurs and the Finnish – Russian association’s branch of Northern Finland co-organised an International Business Forum in Kostomuksha on 14th of April 2016. Entrepreneurs and regional administrators had to the floor for introducing their services and plans concerning internationalization of business operations. The event aimed at developing SME cooperation, but it also offered valuable information about cross border cooperation programmes. Participants came from the Republic of Karelia, Kaliningrad, Arkhangelsk, Kainuu and North Karelia.
Dmitry Kislov from the Ministry of Economic Development of the Republic of Karelia and Paavo Keränen from the Regional Council of Kainuu referred to the preparation of Karelia CBC –programme in their speeches. If everything goes as planned, the programme authorities would like to see first calls for applications to open in October, and first projects launched during the first quarter of 2017. Therefore, it is well about the time to start thinking about project ideas and partners. Karelia CBC has four thematic objectives; Business SME development; Promotion of local culture and preservation of historical heritage; Environmental protection, climate change adaptation; and Promotion of border management and border security.
Chair of a SME Service Centre Aleksandr Popov and project manager of international cooperation Andrei Elizarov brought greetings from Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad is involved in projects for developing energy efficiency, clean technologies, utilization marine bio economy resources and participatory processes for city planning. Partners and examples are currently being looked for from Nordic countries. Participants of the Business Forum got invitations to seminar on urban planning and energy forum that are organized in Kaliningrad in June and September, respectively.
Jukka Norppa, CEO of Karelian Wood Company, talked about the possibilities Kostomuksha offers for Finnish forest industry. According to Mr. Norppa, the time is now good for investing in Russia: people are willing to cooperate, labour costs are relatively low and there is enough workforce, the supply of raw material is good and there is a relatively low extent of value added processing. Also the location of Kostomuksha is good for export: the distance to Oulu harbor is only 300 km. Naturally, there are also certain challenges related to doing business in Russia: the subcontractor supply chain is relatively weak, and the concept of social responsibility is different.
Many of the participating entrepreneurs expressed their willingness to internationalize their operations. Shipbuilding, metal recycling and wood processing were among the sectors where international partners are looked for. Representative for Entrepreneur’s Rights of the Republic of Karelia Elena Gnyotova encouraged entrepreneurs and told about services that are provided for local companies.
After the Business Forum the participants had a chance to visit the factories of FinTek, PKC Group and Karelian Wood Company.