The seventh and last stakeholder meeting was held in Southwest Finland as two separate meetings. The main goal of the meetings was to finalize the implementation and ensure high-quality of the content of the two key actions defined in the regional action plan. In addition, the monitoring of the actions in second phase of the project was discussed during the meetings.

The Regional Action Plan for Circular Economy and Sustainable Business in Southwest Finland aims to promote the development of circu­lar economy business in the region and supports the transition to circular economy business for small and medium-sized enterprises, strengthens circular economy expertise in the region, and promotes in­novation activities and product development. In addition, aim is to develop the possibilities of public funding, to identify and support the development opportunities of circular economy business and assess the effectiveness of the funded measures.

Strong partnerships and networks of expertise

The first stakeholder meeting was held on 10th of June 2022, focusing on the launch of a new project and joint planning with key implementing organizations. The aim of the operating model to be developed in the project is to provide low-threshold support for SMEs to develop their businesses towards a circular economy. A committed network of university of applied sciences actors built on co-operation promotes the provision of services to companies focusing on circular economy expertise throughout Finland. Turku University of Applied Sciences is especially responsible for developing the services and operating model of the Southwest Finland region. In addition to Turku University of Applied Sciences, representatives of the project implementing organizations Lapland University of Applied Sciences and LAB University of Applied Sciences participated in the planning meeting. The project is funded by the Finnish Independence Fund, Sitra and the implementation will begin in August 2022.

The second stakeholder meeting was held on 14th of June 2022. It focused on development and promotion of business based on renewal and energy efficiency competence. The stakeholders Åbo Academi, University of Turku and Turku Science Park were discussing with Turku University of Applied Sciences about the action and defining its details and about the roles of the actors.

Much is already being done in Finnish SMEs to boost the circular economy. An economical and sustainable way of doing things, e.g. to reduce waste, utilize and recycle surplus production and use nearby raw materials is commonplace for many. However, it is still clear that the circular economy is the activity of large companies, and the largest companies in Finland also use the by-products of others and sell much more of their own by-products than smaller companies. SMEs also feel excluded from the often circular economy debate and the lack of concrete support services makes it difficult to develop their own business towards a circular economy. The regional action plan seeks to address this need and tackle the challenges identified.