Helsinki – A Connected Knowledge City

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Helsinki is the capital of Finland and the northernmost capital of a EU member state with 1.4 million inhabitants in the metropolitan region. In quality of life surveys Helsinki is consistently among the top five. Helsinki was recently bestowed the top ranking in the area of environmental politics in the European Green City Index, a study comparing the environmental performance of European capitals.  The city also received a good rating in the areas of air quality, waste utilisation, land use and construction. In total, Helsinki ranked seventh.

Helsinki is a growing, innovative metropolis, preparing for its future growth with a large number of major city development projects. Some of these are located at the centre of the city as old ports and railway yards are transformed into modern residential and business locations.  Another significant city project is the new futuristic Central Library, which is currently being developed on the basis of participatory design processes with citizens. It will serve as an important public space in the heart of the city.

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The Greater Helsinki region, which also includes the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, is home to nearly all larger Finnish companies and governmental institutions as well as 17 universities. Through intensive collaboration between them, the region continues building an environment that fosters knowledge exchange and knowledge creation. This includes a number of initiatives to foster social inclusion and innovation, such as a strong support of Open Data and civic apps developers. Helsinki Region Infoshare, which gives open access to all urban data, recently won the European award for innovation in public administration,

Helsinki ranked second in a ‘European Cities and Regions of the Future’ evaluation. The city highlighted its focus on three key areas to promote investment: Research, development and innovation; growth capital and ICT start-ups. These, together with its transnational functions (such as sea and air links), led to top ranking as the most favoured European city for entrepreneurs.

As ‘knowledge city’, Helsinki can be defined as a city which systematically nurtures knowledge, possesses an economy that is knowledge-driven, and provides an environment that fosters constant knowledge creation and dissemination (knowledge transfer).

Not surprisingly then, Helsinki today has the highest share of ICT value added in all of Europe. The Finnish economy is knowledge-based and strong on innovation, and Finland’s R&D spending per capita is among the highest in the world. More than one third of this spending falls to the Helsinki region, which has led to a unique innovation cluster among universities, start-ups, established businesses and the public sector.

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