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Central Finland: setting the local UBC scenario

The government of Central Finland decided to analyse the overall picture of their university-business-cooperation (UBC) environment in order to help the managerial and policy decision-making and the Finnish company Business Arena Oy was in charge of putting this in practice through an ESF-funded study, Operaatio Metsonpesä. They are sharing a summary of their findings with the UIIM readers.

Operaatio Metsonpesä applied the largest European-wide study on UBC to a regional level in cooperation with the original researchers Todd Davey and Victoria Galan-Muros. More than 500 staff members from three local HEIs and 308 business people (public, private and NGOs) in Central Finland participated.

Individual strengths of Central Finnish HEIs reflected their focus areas. University of Jyväskylä (JYU), a scientific university, was most robust in research-driven cooperation projects and continuing education. JAMK University of Applied Sciences (JAMK), a strong applied university, cooperates mainly via student, applied R&D projects and active entrepreneurship development. HUMAK University of Applied Sciences – Jyvopment. ia  (HUMAK), a small applied university focused in NGO sector, was able effectively cooperate with its niche market, making their scarce internal resources count where they matter. Results from Central Finnish adhered Finnish averages of the European Study, but what set local HEIs apart was a low level of perceived staff mobility (i.e. temporary employment of academics by business and vice versa) and governance (e.g. HEI staff members in strategic positions in company boards and vice versa).

In view of local businesses the UBC potential in Central Finland is significant. Less than half of businesses had cooperated with an HEI, mostly in student mobility, such as internships and thesis (84.2%). Only selected few businesses had been involved in “more complex types” of cooperation, such as R&D projects (13.5%) or curriculum development and delivery (7.9%). Business state that in half the cases it was a student the one that initiated the cooperation with them, confirming that students are the business card of the universities.

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