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Ari Kuikka – Kuopio, Northern Savonia

Lakeland area - region with many possibilities

I am Ari Kuikka, recently appointed Honorary Consul of Denmark in Northern Savonia, Finland. I am located in Kuopio, which is the capital city of the region of the Northern Savonia. Kuopio is a university city with around 120 000 habitants, surrounded by beautiful lakes and forest. 

I have an international business background in car manufacturing, telecommunication, machine building and mechanical technology. Currently I work as Sales Director at Bella-Veneet Oy, which is one of the biggest recrational boat builders in Finland with its four boat brands: Flipper, Bella, Falcon and Aquador. The sales area of the company is almost worldwide, from Greenland to Australia. Denmark has been an important market for Bella-Veneet Oy already since from 90’s. I have been cooperating with Danish companies the last 20 years in field of telecommunication, machine building, construction equipment and boat retail business. Finnish language is my mother language but I am fluent in English and German, also try to get along with Swedish and with some Spanish. 

One of the main health sector centers in Finland
At the heart of the health sciences cluster in Kuopio is an open innovation ecosystem (KuopioHealth), which is an innovation alliance between the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital, Savonia University of Applied Sciences and City of Kuopio, with big number of industrial partners. KuopioHealth is fast becoming one of the world’s leading open innovation ecosystems. 

Kuopio’s global leadership in health and life sciences is driving innovation in specialist areas such as Metabolic, Heart, Cardiovascular, and Neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Neurocenter Finland, which has its headquarters in Kuopio, is a one-stop shop for research in neurosciences and product development in Finland, involving the entire spectrum of neuroscience knowhow. VTT, one of the European leading research institute owned by Finnish State, has launched new research activities in the area of digital health as part of the growing wellbeing and health technology ecosystem in Kuopio. The aim is to create state-of-the-art research based especially on the utilisation of health data, generate new digital health innovations and establish global health technology business in Finland and the Kuopio region. Other strong players in Kuopio health industry include companies like GE Healthcare, Charles River, FinVector etc.

Photo: Wille Markkanen, 2020

Top smart tech research, teaching and engineering
The Northern Savonia is also the home to top research and teaching facilities in engineering and automation fields in Finland. Techology transfer and commercialization creates significant opportunities for emerging smart technologies from the local universities, and gets a significant boost from the extensive deep-tech startup ecosystem. 

Several collaboration projects in automation and smart manufacturing technologies have brought together partners from public research, SMEs, and industry. The research and development at the robotics platforms of the Savonia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Eastern Finland makes Kuopio a prime location for manufacturing, cleantech and technology firms. Companies within the manufacturing cluster include e.g. Ponsse, Normet, Junttan, Bella-Veneet Oy, E Avenue, Andritz, Profile Vehicles, Hydroline.

Photo: Wille Markkanen, 2020

A leader in the development of bio-based economy
Kuopio is recognized as a global leader in the development of a bio-based economy providing foreign investors with unique competitive advantages. With one of the world’s largest available biofeedstocks and world class research institutions (UEF Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Savonia University of Applied Sciences), global companies, such as Mondi Powerflute and the major wood harvester machine manufacturer Ponsse, have established operations in the region.  

The region is also well known internationally for the commercial application of its R&D expertise in important bioproduct verticals, including areas such as bio-based materials and composites, platform chemicals and intermediates, pyrolysis technologies, and waste-to-energy technologies.

Sustainable investments in functional foods and natural health products
The Kuopio area is Finland’s largest producer of milk, which is one of the key food clusters in Finland. The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has its pilot facilities in Kuopio for milk and dairy production. The University of Eastern Finland with its clinical nutrition research is a sought-after partner for better understanding of food products related to health and wellbeing. Other areas of unique expertise in food and nutrition sciences in Kuopio include gut microbiota, metabolomics, safety, nutrition and health.

Tourism at the heart of Finnish Lakeland and clean nature
Located in the heart of Finnish forests and Lakeland area, the Kuopio region is one of Finland’s emerging international tourism destinations. With its rich nature and snowy slopes and clean lakes, it provides an attractive location for large-scale international and domestic tourism development. Several businesses offer nature-based experiences, city life, hiking, shopping, skiing, golf, concerts – and of course the Finnish Sauna experience. 

Welcome to Northern Savonia!

Photo: Wille Markkanen, 2020

More information:

Ari Kuikka
Danish Honorary Consul in Kuopio, Northern Savonia