Our Action Plan consists of five actions that improve the competitiveness of our region's food and drink industry and its SMEs. The actions are divided into two thematic topics: 1. Supporting the development of regional Food Innovation Ecosystem and 2. Development of the regional food business environment. All our actions are based on the territorial needs identified during the project as well as received inspiration from many of the Good Practices identified in other partner regions.

The actions within the Action Plan address three policy instruments. The first policy instrument is the Regional Programme of South Ostrobothnia 2018-2021, the second is the revised Regional Programme of South Ostrobothnia 2022-2025 and the third is the Rural Development Strategy of South Ostrobothnia 2014-2020.

The Action Plan was developed in close collaboration with our local stakeholders and the external expert team from Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. Local stakeholders have been engaged in the development in multiple ways, including participation in local action plan workshops, regional stakeholder meetings and interregional learning events. In addition, we have held several individual meetings with key stakeholders and action owners.

Theme 1: Development of the Regional Food Innovation Ecosystem.

The issue of well-established and functioning regional food clusters, food innovation platforms and networks has been raised in the FRIDGE project. How the food clusters, platforms and networks are being built, structured, coordinated and communicated are crucial for the success of functioning food ecosystems. Inspiring examples of well-established food clusters and networks have been presented especially from Bavaria (the Food Cluster Bavaria) and East-Flanders (Flanders’ FOOD and Tasteful East-Flanders).

Being inspired by examples, the FRIDGE partners and stakeholders in South Ostrobothnia have addressed the need to further develop and improve the regional food ecosystem and its functions with three separate actions.

  • South Ostrobothnia Innovation Ecosystem Event – New Platform for Collaboration
  • Influencing in the Food Province 2030 Strategy project
  • Food Province Strategy Coordination project

The actions together support the development of the functioning food innovation ecosystem and its clearer coordination and communication. The first two actions are in the implementation phase already and the third action is a project idea under preparation.

Theme 2: Developing the Food Business Environment.

Low refining rate, lack of value-added premium products and low digital skills of SMEs have been a long-term challenge in the region. The challenges have come up in the interviews of SMEs, stakeholder discussions, workshops and in the regional analysis carried out during the FRIDGE project.

The FRIDGE project partners have presented good practices and solutions for the challenges and needs described above. The Trilogy of Platforms under Food Cluster Bavaria, for example, offers an effective solution for improving the short supply chains, many times crucial for micro and small-sized food enterprises dependent on local food markets.

The Bavarian Premium strategy for Food, as well as the Produce Food on your Own Farm initiative under the Food Startup Incubator Weihenstephan (FSIWS), are also inspiring examples of how food SMEs are supported in creating more added-value products.

Based on the identified territorial needs and the inspiration received from the FRIDGE partner regions, two actions are implemented in the region, both of which are projects funded under the ERDF/REACT-EU funds.

The actions are:

  • YDIRE - Through cooperation and digitalisation towards resilience in short supply chains
  • PREMIUM - Particularly distinctive food products

Both actions improve the competitiveness of local Food SMEs in a concrete way and are in their implementation phase already.

Read the full Action Plan created by the Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia on our websites: FRIDGE Action Plan of South Ostrobothnia

Picture: Jukka Risikko.