Finnish Perspectives from the European Level

The European Students’ Union (ESU) is the umbrella organisation of 47 National Unions of Students (NUS) from 38 countries. SAMOK (The Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences) and SYL (The National Union of University Students in Finland) are members of ESU from Finland, representing the interests of Finnish students in ESU.

In April I was elected the vice-chairperson of ESU for the upcoming year 2012-2013, being the first Finnish student from a University of Applied Sciences to be in the presidency of ESU. I will not only represent Finnish students but students from the 38 countries where ESU has members.

My story of how I got involved in ESU starts in METKA, the student union of Metropolia UAS, where in 2009 I was a member of the executive committee. I was a first year student in Metropolia, studying Social Services. The following year in 2010, I worked on international affairs in the executive committee of SAMOK, representing Finnish students in universities of applied sciences in ESU. After my mandate finished in SAMOK, I got involved in ESU as a member of the social affairs committee for the year 2011.

The aim of ESU is to represent and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at the European level towards all relevant bodies and in particular the European Union, Bologna Follow Up Group, Council of Europe and UNESCO. Through its members, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. ESU is run by students, whom come from all over Europe. The headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, where the staff and presidency of ESU work full-time. The presidency consists of the chairperson and two vice-chairpersons. I look forward to moving to Brussels and starting my mandate in July with great enthusiasm. Europe is faced with many challenges due to the economic crisis, with higher education taking big hits through the budget cuts and rising tuition fees all over Europe.

Imagine having to pay a 1000€ more from one year to another as the tuition fees rise or having to pay an extra 600€ for failing an exam. This is what is happening in Spain. In Portugal, students are forced to leave their studies due to the student support being cut. In Hungary, the government recently passed a law which binds state-funded students to work a certain number of years in Hungary after graduation, restricting the free movement of people. In addition the number of student support is being cut dramatically. While all of these changes are taking place, in April ministers of higher education gathered in Bucharest for the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process to set priorities for the next three years.

One priority laid down in the Bucharest Ministerial Communiqué aims to “Strengthen policies of widening overall access and raising completion rates, including measures targeting the increased participation of underrepresented groups.” The actions of the governments in the three examples given previously work clearly in the opposite direction of what the ministers promise to work towards in the upcoming years, as cutting student support and raising tuition fees affects the students from lower socio- economic backgrounds first and foremost. The near-sightedness of governments and higher education systems now will end up causing more damage to the society in the long run, as having highly educated professionals are the basis of economic growth.

Even if it seems that some countries have more work to do to reach the targets of the Bologna Process, they are equally valid and need further work from governments and higher education institutions in all of the Bologna Process countries.  In Finland we may have a universal student support system, providing student grants for everyone despite their socio-economic status, but still have groups that are underrepresented in higher education. Some measures are for example being taken to increase the entry levels of immigrants to higher education, especially to universities of applied sciences, but they are still a largely underrepresented group in Finnish higher education institutions.

Ensuring and safeguarding a system where students are not penalized and end up paying 600€ when faced with a difficult subject or where students do not have to drop out due to not being supported, goes a long way. Student representation and doing what I will be doing for the next year would become nearly impossible as I still have some studies left to finish. We have the luxury of taking a year off our studies to work for a better tomorrow of fellow students and engage in civil society activities, which support the personal and professional growth of an individual, allowing one to gain more perspective into their studies as well as future work life. I am lucky to have this opportunity and as the vice-chairperson of the European Students’ Union I will work to try and make this a reality for as many students as possible in Europe.

For more information on the European Students’ Union:


Taina Moisander,

The writer was recently elected the vice-chairperson of ESU for the upcoming year 2012 – 2013. Moisander ist the first Finnish student from a University of Applied Sciences to be in the presidency of ESU.

Formulating belongingness scale for higher education students – a pilot study


The starting point of this pilot study and the larger project around it was the concern about student wellbeing in higher education institutions (HEIs). In a recently published study the students of Finnish universities of applied sciences felt that the strongest factors associated with their ability to study were their personal resources and their social study environment (Lavikainen 2010: 97–108). Many studies report that students feel less satisfied with their lives than the general population (Vaez, Kristenson, & Laflamme 2004; Kjeldstadli et al. 2006).

Student wellbeing can be examined from the viewpoints of general life-satisfaction (Krokstadt 2002), self-esteem (Mellor, Cummins, Karlinski & Storer 2003), stress (Lopez et al. 2001) and coping (Vitaliano et al. 1985). However, the belongingness dimension seems to be increasingly important one when we look at the higher education institutes nowadays. The concept ‘belongingness’ has been used more than before since the 1960s (e.g. Osterman 2000; Levett-Jones et al. 2007). It has been defined from the various viewpoints in social sciences and psychology. According to Hagerty et al. (1992), ‘sense of belonging is the experience of personal involvement in a system or environment so that persons feel themselves to be an integral part of that system or environment’. Baumeister and Leary (1995) and Somers (1999) define belongingness ‘as the need to be, and the perception of being involved with others at different interpersonal levels, which contributes to one’s sense of connectedness (being part of, being accepted, fitting in) and esteem while providing reciprocal acceptance, caring and valuing each other.

Belongingness, connectedness and integration or lack of them, are related to many wellbeing factors of students: self-esteem, burdensomeness, sleep, depression, risk of suicides (Lee 2002; Armstrong et al. 2009; Wong et al. 2011). They are also associated with student retention, academic attitudes, motives and progress which are professional, scientific and economic indicators of success for individual students and for higher education institutions (Tinto 1975; Osterman 2000; Rosenthal et al. 2007; Allen et al. 2008). According to Tinto (1975) student drop out is associated with the students’ degree of academic integration, and social integration. This is why higher education institutions need instruments to follow up students’ sense of belongingness.

Konrath et al. (2011) found that empathy amongst American college students has been declining sharply since 2000 and so has the capacity to take another persons’ perspective into consideration. School shootings are the most serious indicator of separation and malaise. According to Newman (2004), the school shooters are far from being ”loners” but rather ”joiners” whose attempts at social integration have failed. School bullying may lead to a negative view of students’ peers and schoolmates. In the long run, the effects include an increased risk of depression and a negative attitude toward other young adults. (Ministry of Justice, Finland 2009). Lack of integration, belongingness or connectedness characterise often these youngsters. The extent of school shootings indicate that something must be done to improve the wellbeing of the students.

This study is a part of a larger research and development project called ‘Promoting student
wellbeing in Second Life’. The purpose of the project was to promote the availability of student wellbeing services in real world and virtual world. It was financed by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. In previous phases of the project, a qualitative study was conducted involving the students and staff of one large Finnish University of Applied sciences (UAS) in order to find means to promote communal wellbeing and a sense of belongingness. On the basis of those suggestions, an action model was set up for communal meeting spaces that had been established. Also virtual student wellbeing services were constructed and studied their usefulness.

In order to promote belongingness in higher education institutes, we must have instruments to measure it. The aim of this part of the study was to formulate a scale measuring belongingness in higher education institutions.

Materials and methods

Data collection

This pilot study was conducted during spring 2011. Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences is a multidisciplinary higher education institute having about 16,000 students with 67 degree programmes, 14 of them being taught in English. An invitation to take part in the study via a web-based questionnaire was placed in an internal information portal of University of Applied Sciences. Identical paper questionnaires with boxes for returning them were also placed in seven communal meeting places created in the previous phase of this project. The questionnaires and hard copy versions of them were available in the web for three weeks. The data received from the web based questionnaires was converted to SPSS PASW 18 program directly after the end of the data collection period. The boxes were collected back by the project group members and coded to the same SPSS matrix as the web based data by the first author of this article. This program was also used for the analysis.


The questionnaire began with eleven background questions, four of them about sosiodemographic issues (age, gender, marital status and number of children or other dependents), three about studies (degree programme of the respondent, years of studies and basic education), and four about taking part in student or other activities.

There are many scales measuring belongingness (e.g. Mehrabian 1994; Leary et al. 2007). The 35- item instrument was developed on the basis of the Levett-Jones Belongingness Scale – Clinical Placement Experience (Levett-Jones et al. 2009), which has its ground on the work of Baumeister and Leary (1995) and Somers (1999). This scale was chosen on the basis of instrument development because the Levett-Jones (2009) instrument has also been developed in the higher education context in an institution respective to universities of applied sciences in Finland. The construct validity and consistency reliability of the Levett-Jones (2009) scale were high. The authors believe that belongingness is multifaceted concept that needs to be examined from several viewpoints. The benefit of the scale chosen (Levett-Jones et al. 2009) is that it is multidimensional. The permission to use and modify the scale was received from the creator of the scale in written.

The Levett-Jones et al. (2009) BES–CPE –instrument had 34 items which formed three factors: Esteem subscale (Cronbach’s alpha 0.92) comprising statements being in held esteem by one’s work colleagues, Connectedness subscale (Cronbach’s alpha 0.82) included statements concerned with interpersonal connections, and items included in Efficacy subscale (Cronbach’s alpha 0.80) were about efficacious behaviours undertaken to enhance one’s experience of belongingness. Four of the original items (Q6, Q11, Q15 and Q27) were left out of the questionnaire because they were specific to clinical replacement. Five new items about cooperation and meeting places were added because in the qualitative study by Jenze (2010), which was also part of the same larger study, it was found out that in the higher education context, communal meeting places are very important in order to gain a feeling of belongingness. BES–CPE items Q12 and Q22r, which were excluded from the factor analysis in the testing by Levett-Jones et al. (2009), were included in our questionnaire, but not item Q6. In the instrument the phrase ’clinical replacement’ was substituted with ’University of Applied Sciences’ or the name of it, or ’student community’. The word ’colleagues’ was replaced with the words ’fellow students’ or ’student mates’. Considering the amount of customized and revised items, it can be stated that in this study a new instrument having its grounds in the theoretical structure in the work of Levett-Jones et al. (2009) was formulated.

The instrument was delivered in Finnish and English languages. The customization and first version of the translation was made by the Finnish language project group members who all have good skills in English language. The accuracy of the translation was reviewed by a translator who is both native English and Finnish language speaker. The questionnaire applied five-point Likert-scale. The choices were 1 = never true, 2 = rarely true, 3 = sometimes true, 4 = often true and 5 = always true.


The psychometric properties of the instrument were tested in the same way as in the study of Levett-Jones et al. (2009). Principal component analysis with varimax rotation and Kaiser Normalization was performed. The number of factors was restricted to three and Cronbach’s alphas were calculated in order to determine internal consistency of the scales.

Permission for the study was asked from and granted by the vice rector of the University of Applied Sciences. A letter explaining the purpose, financier, voluntary of responding, executors and time of responding was enclosed to the electronic as well as to the paper format questionnaires.


Background variables

Although the questionnaire was available for all the students of the University of Applied Sciences (n=16 000), only 57 responses were received. These represented all the faculties of the UAS: Business school, Civil engineering and building services, Culture and creative industries, Health care and nursing, School of information and communication technology, Industrial engineering, and Welfare and human functioning. The mean age of the respondents was 24 years, with 37% of them married or living in a registered relationship, and there were students from all the semesters of the three and a half years that completing a degree takes. Most of them (75%) had college-level training as basic education, and 60% of them belonged to some real-life community and the same proportion of them to some virtual community.

Psychometric testing

Principal component analysis with varimax rotation and Kaiser Normalization was performed for all the 35 variables of the belongingness scale. Eight components with eigenvalues greater than one were extracted accounting 73.44% of the variance. However, this factor structure did not fit into the theory of the instrument because the first factor comprised most of the variables and the remaining seven factors consisted of one to three items. Factor solutions with five to three factors were run, and out of those the three-factor solution fitted best to the theory of belongingness in the context of higher education institutions. This three-component solution accounted for 52.12% of the higher education institutions students’ sense of belongingness.

The variables stemming from the original scale of Levett-Jones et al. (2009) and the new items created for this study loaded to the factors quite in a different way than in the study of Levett-Jones et al. (2009). For that reason they were renamed. Items loading to the first factor (n=22) were about feeling connected to other students and being part of student community. The first factor accounted for 27.78% of the variance. The items loading to the second factor (n=9) described feeling part of, and belonging to the UAS as higher education institution: importance of cooperation between the degree programmes, taking part to common activities and about the relation to the UAS staff. This factor accounted for 12.44% of the variance. The third factor having four items was about the integration to the student community and higher education institution. It explained 11.97% of the variance. (Table 1)

Table 1. Rotated component loadings of the instrument.
Table 1. Rotated component loadings of the instrument.

Cronbach’s Alpha of the first factor ‘Connectedness to the student community’ was 0.95 and item– factor correlations varied between 0.37 (weakest) and 0.84 (strongest). However, leaving any statement out of the scale would not have given higher Alpha to the scale. Scale ‘Connectedness to higher education institution’ received Cronbach’s Alpha 0.84. Item–scale correlations were between 0.23 and 0.70. Leaving out the item ‘I have liked the University of Applied Sciences’ lecturers I have met’ would have given Alpha size of 0.85. The variable was left on the scale because of its importance from the viewpoint of content. The last factor ‘Integration’ received Cronbach’s Alpha 0.81 with item scale variation between 0.49 and 0.80. Leaving the last two items out would have resulted a higher Alpha. The scale was given the name Belongingness in Higher education institutions BES-HE (Table 2)

Table 2. Cronbach's Alphas of the BES–HE scale.
Table 2. Cronbach’s Alphas of the BES–HE scale.

Belongingness in the higher education institute

In the University of Applied Sciences where the study was made the students gave highest scores to Connectedness to student community dimension of belongingness (mean 3.92), scale Integration mean score was 3.82 and Connectedness to higher education institute 3.48. There was no difference between genders in the sense of belongingness but all the dimension of if had mild inverse correlation with age (0.33 to 0.43).


Limitations of the study

The weakest point of the study is the low response rate of the study. Only 57 students answered the questionnaire although there were about 16,000 students in the UAS in question. Although the sample size was small, the respondents represented all the faculties of the UAS. However since the number of respondents was so low, there may be some selection in the sample e.g. students that are most interested in student wellbeing and social issues may have responded. This may have caused some bias to the responses favouring more positive views about the belongingness in the University of Applied Sciences in question.

The data collection was performed as a part of a larger study and comprised only a part of it. The questionnaire as an entity was too long and the marketing of the study could also have been better. However, this was a pilot study and the number of answers received was enough for running validity and reliability tests. Johanson and Brooks (2010) suggest that 30 representative participants from the population of interest is a reasonable minimum recommendation for a pilot study where the purpose is preliminary survey or scale development. The study was performed in just one UAS of Finland, which poses a limitation of geographic generalization. However, being the largest and multidisciplinary UAS in Finland, students all over the country and also from other countries apply for and study in this UAS. Because of the small response rate the results are only indicative need validation with larger and more geographically representative sample. It should also be culturally validated.


The BES–HE items loaded to the three factors quite differently than in the validation study of BES– CPE instrument by Levett-Jones et al. (2009), which was made in the context of clinical placement. To the first factor loaded about equal proportion of items from each three original subscales of BES– CPE plus one of the four new statements. However, although the factor structure looked different compared to the BES–CPE scale, it was quite logical when thinking about the context of BES–HE instrument. In the context of higher education social connectedness to individual students is one dimension of belongingness, and commitment to educational institution another (e.g. Allen et al. 2008). The student may feel connected to the fellow students but not connected or committed to the higher education institution or vice versa. To the third factor were loaded four statements which indicate integration to the student community and to the UAS as a higher education institution. In the lives of UAS students, integration is one of the most important developmental tasks especially during the first year of study but also for the students of all the semesters. Like Hagerty et al. (1992) state, integration or ‘experience of personal involvement in a system or environment’ is one central dimension of belongingness. This is why the last factor was given the name Integration.

All the dimensions of belongingness are important but also some different meaning for the higher education students may be found. If we think about individual students’ mental health and general wellbeing the subscales ‘Connectedness to student community’ and ‘Integration’ are the most important. If students feel respected, accepted and supported by other students and is involved in the student community, communicating freely with fellow students, they are better equipped to withstand many threats of student life such as lack of self-esteem in the face of failures, depression, stress and burdensomeness (Lee 2002; Armstrong et al. 2009; Wong et al. 2011). If the student does not feel connected to the student community, it may lead to adverse behaviour as may be read e.g. in the reports about school massacres (Ministry of Justice, Finland 2009). The subscale ‘Connectedness to HE institution’ which comprised items about cooperation between different degree programmes and staff may have more to do with the education success indicators. If the student feels at home in the higher education institution, gets along with the staff, feels that he is supported enough by the institution, this has a positive impact on the retention and progress of the studies (Tinto 1975; Rosenthal et al. 2007; Allen et al. 2008).


As a result of this pilot study, Belongingness in Higher education institutions scale was formed. It comprises three subscales totalling 35 items. Supported by theories of the topic (e.g. Tinto 1975; Rosenthal et al. 2007; Allen et al. 2008) and on the basis of the results of this study the authors suggest that the subscales ‘Connectedness to student community’ and the subscale ‘Integration’ are associated with student wellbeing. They also suggest that the subscale ‘Connectedness to higher education institution’ is associated with success indicators of higher education institutions.


1st and corresponding author: RT, PhD, Principal Lecturer Eija Metsälä, Coordinator, Learning centre for evidence-based practice, Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Health care and nursing

2nd author: RT., MSc., Senior Advisor Eija Heiskanen

3nd author: B. Soc. Sci., Wellbeing Advisor Maarika Kortelainen

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Mobile Augmented Teleguidance-based Safety Navigation Concept for Senior Citizens


Societies in Finland and Japan are aging at an alarming rate [7, 8]. As the structure of the population is shifting towards the elderly, studies have shown that Finland is facing a crisis when the cost of supporting the elderly rises and the amount of caretakers is not sufficient enough for support [2].
The numbers of elderly who live alone grows and the older they get, the more assistance they require [3]. The amount of elderly people, suffering from varying memory impairments, is also going to more than double during the next 30 years [1]. If we can improve the caretaker productivity by just 1% and postpone the decline in cognitive and memory functionality of the elderly by just 5 years, the need for more caretakers plummets from near 25% to about 15% [3]. Thus accumulating vast savings accumulated for the society until the year 2040 [2].

Technological innovations have created a net of wireless information exchange between individuals with ubiquitous solutions, which could also be used to improve the quality of living for elderly. It is important to consider the availability and use of technology in different situations and to create novel solutions that meet the demands of users.

Memory problems are common for elderly and range from simple age-related problems to Alzheimer’s disease. A collaborative study in Nordic countries was made to individuals with dementia and the goal was to find out what kinds of aid devices are used, suitability for the users, and to gather improvement feedback [6]. Conclusion was that introducing aid devices improved management of daily activities, helped maintain skills and made people socially active. A study by Sorri et al. [5] has also suggested that a way finding advising technology has the potential to provide important support for the elderly by similarly motivating and empowering them to perform their daily activities.

Based on the Nordic study basic requirements for future design can be made: combine functionalities, smaller number of devices, tailor interfaces and offer tele-presence assistance. Over 40 different aid-devices were used and the median of use was a year and four months. Looking at different types of aid-devices, e.g. GPS, calendar, portable alarm and a safety camera, some existing solutions e.g. a mobile phone already combine some functions, but doesn’t offer usability designed for dementia. Reducing the number of devices is feasible, but care has to be taken in the design of the devices for the end-users. However, misplacing a device, means losing all the functionalities associated with it. Based on the feedback data, the need to learn use of new devices was constant. The degrading nature of the disease presents new problems and existing devices had to be switched to new ones. In some cases people having same severity level of dementia in similar living environments didn’t always use same devices or used them differently. Devices with tailored information would lessen the need to introduce new devices and would be familiar to the user throughout the process. Implementation of tele-guidance could provide help regardless of place and time.

Sorri et al. [5] way finding prototype was tested with real users in real environment using predefined routes. The orientation advice was given through three modalities, visual, audio and tactile signals, two of which were used at a time. Nine subjects, with a median age of 84 years, participated in the user study. Their severity of dementia ranged between mild and severe, and walking abilities ranged from “frail to hobby skier”. In addition, two elderly persons were recruited as control subjects.

In most cases, the orientation with the way finding aid on predefined routes succeeded, with a few misinterpretations. The severity of dementia didn’t seem to foretell success in orientation with the way finding aid. Finding the right door, straying from the defined route, and the attractions of real- life context like other people were challenged most the test persons. Also the correct timing of the way finding advice was found to be crucial but difficult because of the varying walking speed of the subjects. If the advice appeared too early the subjects could forget them or, alternatively, they complied with the advice literally and as a result in worst cases, turned against the wall. As against using “left”, “right” and “go straight on” commands as the way finding advice seems to be more successful than using landmarks. Confirming subjects were on the correct track turned out to be beneficial for longer legs of the routes [5].


The applicability of the approach was first evaluated in a multidisciplinary research project Value Creation in Smart Living Environment for Senior Citizen ( workshop. This multi- disciplinary research group used living lab approach, where technology was designed and evaluated by and in co-operation with the end-users. Smart living environment technology was designed by taking into account human-computer interaction, communication, product and services as well as human interaction. In this study focus was on testing the designed navigation system prototype with scenario-based video with actors. In the video an actor (represents end-user) tested the navigation system prototype alone and with the help of security personnel and family. Quality of Life improvement was assessed using Quality Function Deployment (QFD) framework.


In this study focus was on presenting a new idea of a smart navigation system for people who have mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, and who often require help in their daily activities. Aim of the whole system design was to make it as simple and illustrative as possible to accommodate the needs of such people. Specifically the aim was to design the system for senior citizens. This was achieved by designing the system based on a script written in the form of a storyboard [4]. The script was first illustrated with four early storyboard designs which were presented and evaluated by the research team. Such approach was chosen to help the research team/audience better identify themselves with the main character of the scenario. According to the feedback the final 30 page storyboard was constructed and it formed the basis for the scenario video. The feedback also helped to make the video more compact and easier to understand. The storyboard was useful for the main character and other people to understand the whole concept of the safety navigation system.

Figure 1. Storyboard was used to develop the usage scenario.
Figure 1. Storyboard was used to develop the usage scenario.

Scenario video

The designed scenario video (1) features Marjatta, a 73-years old widower who lives alone. She is suffering from a mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease. Such characteristics were chosen for the main actor of the video, since they most likely are those observable in our end-user population. In the video we picture a typical shopping trip, representing typical activities of daily living. The trip included planning, walking from home to the shop and back. The journey contained different problems, such as choosing directions, with the possibility of the main character Marjatta being disoriented. A narrator leads the story forward. Different informative signs and guides are presented in the video which are essential for the senior citizen to comprehend the functioning of the smart navigation system but also help the viewers. The main idea of this short video was to demonstrate and describe how the possible future smart navigation system could actually work.

1 The Safety Navigation scenario video is available at:

Figure 2. Concept video was used to describe and collect feedback from the users and stakeholders.
Figure 2. Concept video was used to describe and collect feedback from the users and stakeholders.

Implementation considerations

Safety Navigation Overview

The main purpose of the Safety Navigation system is to help elderly people in their outdoor activities that they would feel safe and secure, and to increase awareness of the situations of the elderly for those who are concerned. The objective of the system is to assist the seniors remotely utilising a variety of behavioural scenarios and modern technologies such as positioning, embedded cameras, multi-channel and multi-media communications, and laser pointers. The entire community of the Safety Navigation system consists of MoTe (Mobile Terminal) users and Aware users. Aware users are in charge or may provide help to the MoTe users.

Main Functionality and User Interfaces

The Mobile Terminal concept is developed on a base of the Android OS smartphones. Such technologies and connected frameworks were enhanced with personalized features such as addresses and safety check points. Safe areas, like the way to a bank, hospital or a store, can be also defined to the user. When the user selects a destination, the application shows the safest route for them. After departure a predefined countdown timer is activated for the user. If the time limit is exceeded, the system will notify Aware users via e.g. SMS or email message, including location, date and time, so they can take appropriate actions in order to help the MoTe user.

Ubiquitous Home Environment

Ubiquitous Home Environment (UHE) is a user-centric set of systems through which users can interact with their living environment and outside world. An essential part of the UHE is a serving engine. Typically the engine achieves interoperability with the UHE infrastructure through a variety of generic and dedicated modules. The engine should expose a number of GUIs to terminal devices.

PBOL at Oulu UAS has built an implementation of the serving engine, the UbiHOMESERVER. For sensing the physical environment, the UbiHOMESERVER interoperates with Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) and IPTV, mobile and web channels serve for human interaction. As a core of the engine, an intelligent module was developed. Knowledge technologies, such as Semantic Web, were considered in design.

The UbiHOMESERVER offers a set of GUIs through which it is possible to interact with the UHE as well as to consume and manage the ICT Home Services. Device recognition and content adaptation technologies were used to reduce end-user GUIs’ dependencies on devices. The end-user GUIs utilise multimodal information presentation, exposing textual, symbolic, colour, sound, voice and visual modalities. The UbiHOMESERVER and GUIs are able to handle environmental changes dynamically. A grid layout was chosen for the UbiHOMESERVER GUI design. Entire interface is implemented as low-hierarchical and intuitive.

Figure 3. Main view of the UbiHOMESERVER GUI.
Figure 3. Main view of the UbiHOMESERVER GUI.

Several systems, for example the Safety Navigation System, were made interoperable with the UbiHOMESERVER and thus became integrated parts of the UHE.

Safety Navigation System Architecture

The backbone of the Safety Navigation System is the UHE. The UbiHOMESERVER is running 24/7 and serve the users of the UHE. For example, family members may share the same living environment of the MoTe users, or be connected to it remotely. Those of them, who are trusted, may also be granted access to the MoTe user’s UHE and thus use a dedicated functionality of the Safety Navigation. Security staff doesn’t not have access to MoTe user’s UHE. Instead, their systems may interoperate with the UbiHOMESERVER through dedicated interfaces.

Figure 4. Architecture of the Safety Navigation system.
Figure 4. Architecture of the Safety Navigation system.

The Mobile Terminal may be implemented in a form of a self-sufficient all-purpose device, or in a form of a distributed/interconnected set of devices. Among those may be a wearable camera, a key ring with laser pointer and a smart phone. Due to a specific target group, the Mobile Terminals must provide end-users with controls and GUIs dedicated to the use by elderly people.

The wearable camera starts to take pictures of the surrounding area when the user is considered lost. Those pictures supplement location technologies and help the Aware users to identify the position of the MoTe user more precisely.

Figure 5. Safety Navigation system for identifying user position.
Figure 5. Safety Navigation system for identifying user position.

Users may launch a live audio/video conversation, and receive guidance from the Aware users at any time. A laser pointer can be used to display a proper direction with an arrow or other symbols on a flat surface when the user is not able to use audio/video communication properly.

The door guard generates an event when the user departures from home. Safety Navigation system keeps track of such state changes by logging them with a time-stamp. The log data may be used for defining safety areas and time frames more precisely, and in the future such knowledge may bring an opportunity to develop a proactive behaviour of the system.


This work has been partly funded by the Academy of Finland and JSPS (Japan) under Smart Living Environment for Senior Citizen research projects (VESC, P-SESC) and by Tekes for Well-being Ecosystem (Ryhti) project.


Petri Pulli, Zeeshan Asghar, Mika Siitonen, Risto Niskala, Eeva Leinonen, Antti Pitkänen, Jaakko Hyry, Dept of Information Processing Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Jarmo Lehtonen, Scope Associates Oy, Helsinki, Finland

Vadym Kramar and Markku Korhonen, (, Pehr Brahe Center for Industrial and Services ICT (PBOL), Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Finland

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Promoting Entrepreneurship in Social and Health Care Sector – International Joint Development


Working life is changing, also in the social and health care sector. In the future, experts in working life need skills to learn quickly new things as well as the ability to adapt to different working environments. Core competences in special fields of social and health care are needed, but also extensive competencies. (Suomen Fysioterapeutit 2011.) There are differences between the enterprise habits of men and women, fewer women than men run businesses in Sweden. Women have a great potential for running businesses. Sweden needs more entrepreneurs. Innovation and creativity are needed within all sections of society, including within the public sector, associations and education. The entrepreneurial perspective should be given to areas such as the education sector, research and the public sector. The education sector plays an important role in promoting entrepreneurship and improving knowledge of enterprise. (The Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and communications 2007-2013, 2011.)

Finnish Ministry of Education (2007) supports entrepreneurial way of working and entrepreneurship during studies in higher education. Positive attitudes, will and a desire to act are connected to a high level of professional competencies while supporting the entrepreneurial way of working. (The Ministry of Education 2009.) European Qualifications Framework defines the requirements for competences in the end of studies at higher education. For example it is defined that students must be able to solve complex problems, lead complex professional tasks and work independently in expert tasks. Finnish National Quality Frameworks defines also basic prerequisite of entrepreneurship to be part of competencies (Arene 2010).

In Forte project two entrepreneurs, who are running their own companies, in social and health care were interviewed about the recommendations of contents and implementation of entrepreneurship studies during higher education April and May 2011. Learning by doing was experienced to be a suitable way of learning entrepreneurial skills. Learning basic skills to do a business plan and learning about licensing practices were experienced as being an important part of studies. Different company forms and basic skills in business calculations were thought of as being important. Discussions about business plans were experienced as being important to widen students´ own way of thinking. Tendering in social and health care sector should have an important role during studies in higher education from the point of view of entrepreneurs.

Learning entrepreneurship during studies of social and health care sector in higher education

Higher education can offer students a learning environment where they can feel a desire to learn in close connection with working life. Teachers become coaches of learning and the process of learning is owned by the students themselves. Entrepreneurial way of working in student enterprise and in development projects of working life can offer possibilities for this kind of learning. The learner is an active owner of her learning process, and the method of learning in student groups and teams, customer projects, networks and in an entrepreneurial way seems to be an effective model to learn entrepreneurship. (Taatila 2010, Leinonen, Partanen and Palviainen 2004.) The entrepreneurial way of learning requires a change in the traditional teacher centered way of working. Peltonen (2008) did found a positive relationship between the support of team and team members’ efficacy beliefs, during the way to become an entrepreneurial teacher. Luukkainen (2004) presents a conception of future teacher: the teacher has ethical opinions and plays an active role in developing society. Content management, promotion of learning, future orientations, societal orientations, co-operation and continuous self and work development which means continuous learning are the constituents of teachership.

The aims of free and responsibly working students are a starting point. For teacher, the model requires an ability to take risks and indulge in the learning process together with students. (Peltonen 2008.) Dialogue is the process of thinking together. The possibilities of dialogue should be used in learning process. (Isaacs 2001.) Anttila (2003) says that dialogue is the way, maybe the only one, to educate so that the good of the learner can purely be promoted. Without dialogue it is impossible to know what is good for the learner, so the direction of education and teaching must be solved through dialogue.

Among women who are studying in higher education, entrepreneurship is not believed to be as attractive an option as to men. Two out of three men think that they can manage as an entrepreneur, compared to one third of women. (OPM 2009.)

In social and health care sector, entrepreneurs highlight more of their professional identity than their entrepreneurial identity (Österberg-Högstedt 2009, 24).

Faculty of Social and Health Care is participating 4-year long research project that measures the dynamics of entrepreneurial orientation within student population in several universities. Laurea University of Applied Sciences will do the research, but we have opportunity to explore our students´ answers. The questionnaire studies both direct entrepreneurial orientation and general ethical competence of the students and students who started this autumn answered the questionnaire. Lahti joined the project this autumn 2011 and here we will present some early observations from answers. In the end of Year 2014 we will find out has there been any changes in students´ entrepreneurial orientation during professional education. (Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Students´ entrepreneurial desire in the beginning of their studies.
Figure 1. Students´ entrepreneurial desire in the beginning of their studies.


Promoting entrepreneurship in the social and health care sector

The structures of social and health care are changing. Clients want to have services suited for their individual and special needs. There is more supply of private sector and clients can choose what services to use. The transmission from a public health care to a mix of public and private provides a wide range of new business opportunities, especially for women’s entrepreneurship. It is also important to promote entrepreneurial skills in working life.
International co-operation in Forte- Promoting women’s entrepreneurship in social and health care sector- project seeks to promote positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship and develop new models for entrepreneurial teaching in social and health care sector. Joint development offers possibilities to share good practices internationally. The partners in project are the County Administrative board of Östgötaland, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Linköping University, Innovation office of Linköping University and Vårdförbundet.

Studies of entrepreneurship have been developed since 2004 in social and health of Lahti University of Applied Sciences. Teachers created the path for students to learn about entrepreneurship, during their studies of social and health care. All of the teachers in social and health care took part in education days about entrepreneurship, eight teachers in larger 8 ECTS education. The group of teachers have later been educated more about entrepreneurship training. The results of the teacher questionnaire made in Forte- project described that the experiences of teachers who had been coaching students learning entrepreneurship were positive. This way, they had more time to meet individual students and their needs. The teachers described enthusiastic feelings while training their own student group. They also noticed that students must have a concrete platform and knowledge of how entrepreneurship studies are part of professional studies and how they build knowledge and competencies of the student. The faculty of social and health care in Lahti University of Applied Sciences has arranged inspirational entrepreneurship days for students in the past four years and the aim has been to promote positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship among all students of social and health care.

Promoting entrepreneurship in social and health care – Examples from Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Linköping University

The aims of development during Forte project.

Joint development and modeling of entrepreneurship training models and entrepreneurial learning environments
Joint development and piloting of entrepreneurship e-learning course solution for social and health care students is piloted and developed during project

Joint development and piloting models for awareness raising and more positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship

Innovative planning of services in social and health care

The students of social and health care can create innovative solutions for the challenges they meet during their studies and practical placements. Topical examples have been seen during compulsory 4 ECTS entrepreneurship studies in Lahti University of Applied Sciences. Studies are a special solution for students of social and health care sector. The most important aim in studies is to raise interest and positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. The basic understanding of entrepreneurship and business is also important. In future some of students can establish their own company, but entrepreneurial way of working is also needed when you work for someone else. Students did give feedback about the course in Spring 2011. Many students got interested or excited about the possibilities of entrepreneurship in the social and health care sector. They learned basic things what is required to be able to establish a company in social and health care sector. Some of them thought that it would be complicated. The experience of the course was that learning was implemented in an entrepreneurial way, which was mentioned to be important and useful.

Students as entrepreneurs in Lahti University of Applied Sciences

The group of students has established a student coop in the faculty of social and health at February 2011. It is the company owned by students and it offers the services of wellbeing. They can do customer projects in an entrepreneurial way and put their knowledge into practice during their studies. They have teacher coaches with whom they regularly discuss their projects and aims. Students negotiate contracts, plan the products, put them into the practice and do assessment together with clients, other students and coaches. The model of the role of the teacher as a coach of entrepreneurship is created and developed in Forte-project in close connection to students, teachers and networks, including Swedish partners working with the same subject.

Teacher coaches of students who work in the coop of students were interviewed at November 2011. The first experiences from the coaches of students is that the coach shouldn’t be too active in coaching. The students are active and responsible of their projects, they are also the owners of the projects. This kind of working is supporting the inner motivation of students. Pink defines motivation of learning so that the learner has a feel of mastery, purpose and autonomy about the things that she is learning (Pink 2011). Delivering different roles to students in projects was experienced to be positive solution, the responsibility of students was higher. Teacher coaches also described the coaching process to be empowering for themselves. The things to develop teacher coaches mentioned the regular weekly meetings with coop of students and the limited resources to work with clients. Students do have professional studies and practical placements parallel to working in coop, so the group of students don’t have possibility to meet coaches every week or take different clients. The structures of learning environment are not supporting working in student coop, the solutions are under development.

Implementing entrepreneurship in the Occupational Therapy Programme Linköping University, Sweden.

During the fifth semester a collaboration between occupational therapy (OT) students from Faculty of Health Sciences and engineering students at the Institute of Technology (both at Linköping University) takes place. The educational philosophy in the Faculty of Health Sciences is Problem Based Learning (PBL).The main idea behind PBL is the focus on learning and on the learner (Silén, 2004). The learning is based on real-situations, situations that students may face and have to deal with in their future profession. The supervisors’ role is to encourage, challenge and support students’ learning. The purpose with the collaboration is to design a product that can be used by people who experience different problems in activities of daily living. Throughout their work the students have to consider the aspect of Universal design (Design for all) focusing on the usability of the environment or products by all people, to the greatest degree possible, without adaptation (Christophersen, 2002).The students form small groups to work with a specific design project. The supervisors’ provide examples of everyday problems that persons, with or without disability, in different ages experience and encourage the students to go out and meet these persons. Persons with disabilities who don’t have the ability to use certain services, products and environments can feel excluded from the society (Letts, Rigby & Stewart, 2003).

By interviews and observations the students get the consumers point of view concerning the problem. In that way they analyze the problems closer to the reality based on the user´s perspective. Some topics of investigation can be: mobility in the society, safety in the home, shopping and leisure. The OT students have the role of a consultant on human factors in relation to environmental problems within the chosen problem area. They also give suggestions to practical solutions to the problem. During this process the OT students endeavor the role of an entrepreneur and are supported through literature within the field of entrepreneurship. Students are offered an opportunity to meet the University’s´ Innovation Office to receive information about how to prepare business plans. The main responsibility for the engineer students’ is to lead the project and to design a product concept in the technical sense. Good communication in the group and respect for each other is of utmost importance for a smooth development of the product concept. The role of the supervisor is to encourage and question the process of product development, in line of the PBL concept. A final oral report of the project is done at the end of the semester where the OT students contribute with both the OT and entrepreneurial perspective on the product concept developed.

To support the OT students learning about the entrepreneurial perspective a specific seminar “Design, consumer participation and entrepreneurship” takes place. In preparation for this seminar the students are provided with a work material about entrepreneurship and OT to enable the thinking about the design projects in an entrepreneurial way. For example the students make an analysis of strengths and weaknesses about the product and the role of the OT, competitors they have in that arena and how they can market the product in an appropriate way (Pattison, 2011). Based on the article ”OT – Outstanding talent: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Practice” (Pattison, 2006) they will also reflect on how working with design and entrepreneurship could affect the OT profession and the ability to act in a changing society. Both design and entrepreneurship are still new areas for occupational therapists to work with making this reflection important for the student learning. For instance Pattison (2006) argue that even small changes in a product can be as important as an world changing idea.

Students’ evaluations regarding the entrepreneurial part of the project reveal increased insight about the great value of the occupational therapy profession in other contexts and the close relationship between the methods, strategies and concepts used within the profession and the entrepreneurial approach to practice. Further, the students emphasize the importance of the interprofessional integration and the possibility to create solutions close to the consumer and in relation to real life situations. However, the students find the mutual collaboration sometimes difficult because of the different professional backgrounds. According to Letts, Rigby & Stewart, (2003) OT have the possibility to be an important team member when it comes to Design for all contributing with the knowledge about human functioning, disability, interaction between the person and environment and assistive technologies. It is suggested that OT have to engage in partnerships with professions like architects, constructors and designers for the possibility to develop mutual expertise. In summary, primary results of the entrepreneurial part of the project show that the students feel more prepared for a new and creative way of thinking within the profession, importance for evolving the profession for the future.


The entrepreneurial way of learning offers students a great possibility to personal and professional growth. Students learn to cope with the constant changes in the world as well as in working life. Students have fresh ideas and it is important to offer them real possibilities to develop their ideas in further and put them into the practice. Students can create even more innovative solutions if they network with other students from different professional fields. The models of learning in entrepreneurial way and in student enterprise are developed and also sharing good practices with partners. Topical discussions are how to make the whole learning environment able to support entrepreneurial way of learning and how to include it into the faculty structures.


Annamaija Id-Korhonen, Senior Lecturer, Project Coordinator, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Social and Health Care

Jane Holstein, Lecturer, Forte project member, jane.holstein(at) Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Occupational Therapy Programme

Eija Viitala, Lecturer, Project Coordinator, eija.viitala(at) Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Social and Health Care

Anttila, E. 2003. A Dream Journey to the Unknown. Searching for Dialogue in Dance Education. Doctoral dissertation. Acta Senica 14. Theatre Academy. Scenic art and research.

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Internationalisation in companies in North Karelia

1 Introduction

At the moment, internationalisation plays an important role mainly in large companies and work places in North Karelia. The number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) operating at a global level is still rather small. Exporting is restricted to relatively few companies in North Karelia: about 20 companies are responsible for 80 % of exports. The share of SMEs in exporting was only 11‐ 16 % of the total export figures for 2008‐2009. (See Pohjois‐Karjalan elinkeino, liikenne‐ ja ympäristökeskus 2010.) In order to rise to the challenge of international business, companies need competitive products and/or services, international demand for their products and/or services, personnel with international competence and motivation, as well as sufficient investment in international business.

2 Background information for the survey

The survey on the current state of internationalisation in companies in North Karelia was carried out in collaboration with North Karelia University of Applied Sciences and North Karelia Chamber of Commerce. The aim was also to prepare background material for the Development Plan for Internationalisation at NKUAS. The Planning Specialist, Anneli Airola, from NKUAS was responsible for the survey at NKUAS. She worked in close cooperation with the Manager Director, Tiina Tolvanen, from North Karelia Chamber of Commerce.

2.1 Research objectives

The main objectives of the survey centred on three areas: 1) to identify competence requirements in international business, 2) to explore the companies’ future aims related to international business and 3) to examine the cooperation between companies and educational institutions in North Karelia.

2.2 Method

The online questionnaire related to the objectives of the survey was sent out by email to member companies of North Karelia Chamber of Commerce in February 2010. Replies were received from 309 companies. The data from the 309 questionnaires were coded for statistical analysis to answer the research questions. The SPSS was used for statistical analysis. In addition to this, twelve company interviews were carried out and the interviews were transcribed for the purpose of analysis. A press release was drawn up and circulated to local newspapers at a press conference in June 2010. The results of the company survey, as well as the results of the surveys carried out among the staff and students of North Karelia University of Applied Sciences, were reported in the publication Kansainvälistyvä Pohjois‐Karjala (Airola 2011). The quotations used in this article are direct quotations from the company interviews.

2.3 Background information on the companies

309 companies completed the questionnaire. With regard to the size of the companies: half of the companies (51 %) were small companies employing a maximum of four staff, 44 % of the companies employed 5 – 249 staff, and the remainder (5 %) represented larger companies employing over 250 personnel. The companies represented the following areas of business: 32 % industry, 19 % retail trade, 8 % tourism, 3 % accommodation, 3 % ICT and 43 % other areas of business.

Almost half of the companies (44 %, N=135) informed us that they were in some way engaged in international activities. The term `international activities´ refers, in many cases, to exporting; however, importing, producing services for foreigners, foreign investments, student exchange, recruiting foreign employees and trainee exchange can also be regarded as examples of international activities. In this study, 70 % of the companies representing the areas of tourism and accommodation had foreign customers, over half of the industrial companies (55 %) undertook export activities and 40 % of the companies in the retail trade were engaged in international activities.

The main market for all the companies was Finland. 19 % of the companies also did business in the Nordic countries, 23 % in other European countries and 15 % in Asia or North and South America. The biggest single foreign market was Russia (13 %), followed by Sweden (12 %) and then by Germany (10 %).

3 Business Competence

“We need competence, organisational skills and a clear strategy.”

When trying to become global players, companies need above all to have a competitive product or service and international demand for their products or services; however, companies also need to have a desire for expansion into international markets as well as the ability to expand. The competence of personnel in international activities is crucial. Investing in international business is a natural and essential alternative or even a prerequisite for growth, if domestic markets are not sufficient for a company. Sometimes a pure chance, such as an encounter at a trade fair, could start a company off in international business. The web pages of companies offer opportunities for potential contacts. A more secure way to internationalise is, of course, thorough preparation based on analysis of foreign markets and reflection on the company’s strengths and weaknesses towards opportunities offered by possible target markets. (See e.g. Pirnes & Kukkola 2002.) There are many challenges involved in embarking upon international business, e.g. choosing business partners, the new operational environment and sufficient communication skills. The international competence of personnel has a strong effect on success in international markets.

The area of international business competence in companies in North Karelia was focused on with two research questions relating to: 1) the current international business competence of staff and 2) recruitment requirements for international roles.

3.1 Shortages in international competence

“Versatile language skills are an important and special challenge for a company.”

In relation to international business competence, the sufficiency of staff resources, expertise about customers’ requirements and concrete skills in international business activities were studied in this survey. The term `concrete skills in international business activities´ refers to skills in legal matters, logistics, insurances and delivery terms, finance, language and cultural knowledge, and competitive pricing.

Figure 1. Shortages in international business competence (%)
Figure 1. Shortages in international business competence (%)

The greatest shortages were found in legal matters, logistics, insurances, delivery terms and international finance (36 – 39 %). About one third of the companies felt that they had shortages in language skills and cultural knowledge. According to about one third of the companies (N=101), staff resources were not sufficient to take part in international business. (See Figure 1.) In the company interviews, it was pointed out that staff resources were often a real challenge for local companies. In smaller companies, as well as in companies that have recently started their international business, it was usually the managing director who was responsible for international business. He/she was usually the founder and the main owner of the company. If the managing director had some international expertise, he/she was usually involved in so many other company issues that he/she was not able to dedicate himself/herself fully to international business. On the other hand, limited resources meant that it was not always possible or desirable to hire new employees.

The least shortages were found in the items ‘expertise about customers’ requirements’ and ‘competitive pricing’. Only 16 % of the companies felt that they had problems with competitive pricing. Usually in surveys investigating international competence, the competitive pricing is a problem, because in foreign trade it is impossible to price products/services at the same principles as in domestic trade (Larjovuori, Laiho & Talonen 2004.)

When the areas of business were compared, industrial companies were found to have the most shortages in international competence (37 %), whereas in other areas about one quarter of the companies felt that they had shortages in international competence. The kinds of shortages in international competence were found to be about the same in all the areas.

3.2 Recruitment requirements for international roles

“Finding skillful employees is a challenge.”

In the following question, the respondents were asked to consider the kind of requirements needed for a person who was being recruited for international roles. Skills related to oral communication were considered to be the most important: language and communication skills (71 %), good negotiation and cooperation skills (49 %) and good salesmanship (30 %) (see also Jussila, Mäkinen, Mäkirinne & Tompere 1997). (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Recruitment requirements for international tasks (%)
Figure 2. Recruitment requirements for international tasks (%)

The results show that personal communication was considered to be very valuable in international business. In addition, familiarity with trade practices and practical processes was valued, together with the ability to acquire information. In this area, the replies were similar regardless of the field or the size of the company. In many interviews, it was pointed out that there could be problems in recruitment, particularly if the company was situated outside Joensuu. On the other hand, if the company was known as a good brand the location of the company had no relevance at all.

Language, culture and communication are challenges in international business. Language competence is considered to be extremely important in international business and particularly important in building successful relationships. If there is no common language between business partners, companies could fail to understand the true meaning of business. As a result of the liberation of world markets, requirements related to language competence have diversified. Employees who are competent at several languages are needed. According to the staff and educational survey carried out by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) in 2009, English, Swedish and Russian are the most important languages needed for working life in Finland. The position of English will remain strong and will be even more important in the future. As the significance of Asia and Southern America is set to increase in international trade, more speakers of Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish will be needed in the future. (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto 2010.)

This survey also found English to be the most important requirement in recruitment. However, finding a person with versatile language competence, e.g. also with a knowledge of German, French, Russian or Spanish, is extremely difficult in North Karelia. Despite the fact that North Karelia is a neighbour to Russia, not very many people have a good command of the Russian language.

In addition to language skills, cultural competence is required in international business communication. Sometimes, the role of culture is over‐emphasised: in Europe, business people can get along very well if they are true to themselves and take other people into consideration in an appropriate way. However, the world is rich in habits and culture: for example, in the case of Asia it is good to have cultural knowledge, since habits and values differ from those of ours. One of the companies interviewed had organised a course on Chinese culture for its staff, because China was a new business partner for the company. It is also worth pointing out that personal experiences are important in learning culture.

4 Aims for internationalisation in the future

“Internationality is a lifeline for our company.”

Aims related to internationalisation in the future were examined by asking companies about: a) international business as a target for development, b) expansion by international business and c) the company’s position on the world‐wide markets.

The results show that almost half of the companies were willing to face the challenge of global markets and wanted to invest in internationalisation. 41 % of the companies felt that internationalisation was an important target for development during the next three years; similarly, almost half of the respondents felt that internationalisation was a way to expand the company’s growth (43 %); and as many as 51 % of the companies intended to become among the best companies in the world.

More than half of the companies in the areas of industry, tourism, accommodation and ICT felt that internationalisation was an important development target and was a way for them to expand. Correspondingly, more than half of these companies wanted to be among the best companies in the world. In the field of retail trade, companies were not so optimistic: only about 25 % of the companies here felt that internationalisation was an important target for development and a way to expand. On the other hand, however, 40 % of the companies in retail business still wanted to be among the best companies in the world.

The companies were asked whether they intended to expand their market areas. 29 % of the companies (N=85) gave a positive answer. The compani s in industry had the greatest expansion plans (49 %), whereas the companies in the retail business had the least expansion plans. Expansion plans were directed mainly towards Europe, but Asia was also clearly an area of interest. As for individual countries, Russia was of the most interest, followed by Sweden, Germany, the Nordic countries, Germany, China and Japan. Related to their plans for expansion, the companies were asked whether they had plans to develop new products or services to meet the needs of foreign customers. The results show that 37 % of the companies intended to develop new products or services.

One significant characteristic in the globalisation of North Karelia is its location as Russia’s neighbour. The close vicinity of growing Russian markets gives Finland a competitive edge. This kind of advantage is not, however, be taken for granted. Instead, a lot of determined work is required. In order to succeed in business with Russia, companies need to have knowledge about Russian business, culture and legislation as well as business manners (see Korhonen, Sivonen, Kosonen & Saukkonen 2008). Over 40 % (N=129) of the companies felt that their knowledge about Russian business was not sufficient. Expectations towards doing business with Russia in North Karelia are huge. The interviews revealed, however, that markets in Russia are not easy and surprises can always be anticipated. For example, Russian legislation and language barriers make business rather complicated. Also on a national level, companies felt that the missing common language was an obstacle in developing business between Finland and Russia (see e.g. Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto 2010).

Not all of the companies interviewed were interested in Russian business: some did not need Russian cooperation, as they did not have suitable products or just did not want to work in Russian markets. Some companies pointed out that North Karelia was perhaps rather too Russia‐oriented
and that Russia was emphasised too much in public spe ches. Some companies stated that they did not want to take a risk concerning Russian business, but instead chose less risky markets. Also, shortages in knowledge about Russia could present a clear obstacle.

5 Cooperation between companies and educational institutions

“Important activities”

Only 8 % of the respondents had cooperated with educational institutions in relation to international activities. Most cooperation had taken place with North Karelia University of Applied Sciences in the following fields: students’ theses, international trainees and staff training. Cooperation related to students’ theses had been carried out with larger companies. According to the respondents, there might be more opportunities for cooperation in the field of theses, but it would require more activity from companies as well as information and activity from North Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Some companies had also cooperated with the University of Eastern Finland, North Karelia College, the North Karelia Adult Education Centre, Joensuu normaalikoulu and Niinivaara comprehensive school.

As a result of English degree programmes and exchange activities in the University of Eastern Finland and North Karelia University of Applied Sciences, companies had been given the opportunity to hire an international trainee. North Karelia University of Applied Sciences arranged work placements for 270 foreign trainees from 1993 onwards. Trainees came from different countries, mainly Belgium, Germany, France and Poland. (Kohonen 2010.) In this survey, 41 companies had taken trainees from EU‐countries, Russia, China, Turkey, Korea, Japan, Israel and the Ukraine. Industry and the retail trade had been the most active in hiring international trainees. Approximately the same number of companies was also interested in hiring a trainee in the future.

6 Conclusion

The aim of the survey was to study internationalisation in companies in the region of North Karelia. 309 companies were involved in the study. The survey provided good and extensive information on internationalisation in North Karelia: international business competence, aims related to internationalisation in the future and the cooperation between companies and educational institutions.

International business means new challenges for a company as well as new risks. The results obtained in this survey are similar to those in previous research (e.g. Larjovuori, Laiho & Talonen 2004): SMEs lack many of competences needed in international business. Internationalisation, however, is for many SMEs a necessity rather than a choice. International business offers new dimensions but, on the other hand, more competence is required from staff than that required in domestic trade. The results of the survey show that there were shortages in international business competence. When recruiting personnel for international roles, communication skills, language and communication skills, negotiation and cooperation skills as well as salesmanship, turned out to be the most important requirements. English was the most important language, but people with a command of other languages would also be needed.

The companies had significant aims for the future: almost half of the companies stated that internationalisation was an important development target during the next three years and believed that internationalisation was a way to expand the company’s activities. More than half of the companies questioned intended to be among the best companies in the world in the future. However, only 30 % of the companies were planning to expand their marketing area, only 16 % had an internationalisation strategy and only 37 % intended to develop new products or services. Thus, it seems that aims related to internationalisation would remain abstract aims and not turn into concrete actions. Developing new, competitive products or services is very important, because they have a key position in the growth of the national economy and thus, in employment. On a national level, Finnish companies, particularly early‐stage and established entrepreneurs, also do not have high growth expectations (Global entrepreneurship monitor 2010).

Promoting internationalisation is of vital importance for North Karelia’s future. Promoting internationalisation is one of the major topics in different regional strategies. For example, according to the strategy of North Karelia 2030, international level competitive business life and reinforcement of expertise and employment are among the main foci (Regional Council of North Karelia). International business offers new dimensions but, on the other hand, more competence is required from staff compared to that required for domestic trade. As North Karelia is a rather small region (about 166 000 inhabitants), close cooperation between the business sector and educational institutions is needed to increase the international competence of staff. At the same time, the global competence of students is being developed, thus ensuring a qualified labour force for regional needs.

Based on the results of the survey, the following actions are recommended: 1) Training and education, e.g. professional education, short courses and seminars for companies to increase the level of business competence. It would be important for local educational institutions and regional development companies to discuss how each of them could promote the internationalisation of the region and furthermore, to agree on the distribution of training and education. Modern technology should to be utilised effectively in training. 2) To develop the availability of international trainees for companies. The cooperation of companies with international trainees has been shown to be valuable. Therefore, it is desirable that this kind of cooperation continues. 3) A language skills survey in companies to find out the current and future language needs of companies. The previous language skills surveys in North Karelia date back to the early 2000’s (Airola 2004 and Airola & Piironen 2005), therefore, a new survey is required. This kind of survey would help both companies when planning their staff’s language training as well as educational institutions when they are developing language studies.


Anneli Airola, PhD, Planning Specialist, anneli.airola(at), North Karelia University of Applied Sciences (NKUAS)

Airola, A. 2011. Kansainvälistyvä Pohjois‐Karjala. Näkökulmia kansainvälistymiseen pohjoiskarjalaisissa yrityksissä ja Pohjois‐Karjalan ammattikorkeakoulussa. Pohjois‐Karjalan ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja C:45.

Airola, A. 2004. Yritysten kielitaitotarpeet Pohjois‐Karjalassa. Pohjois‐Karjalan ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja C: Tiedotteita 17.

Airola, A. & Piironen, M. 2005. How Can I Help You? Kielitaitotarpeiden kartoitus sosiaali‐ ja terveysalalla Joensuussa. Pohjois‐Karjalan ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja C: Tiedotteita 22. Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto. 2010. Työelämässä tarvitaan yhä useampia kieliä. EK:n henkilöstö‐ ja koulutustiedustelu. a_kielia.pdf. June 15, 2011.

Global entrepreneurship monitor. 2010. nish_2009_Report.pdf June 30, 2011.

Jussila, K., Mäkinen, M., Mäkirinne, M. & Tomperi, T. 1997. Kansainvälistymisen edellyttämät työntekijän henkilövalmiudet. Helsingin yliopisto. Vantaan Täydennyskoulutuslaitos.

Kohonen, T. (toim.) 2010. Opiskelijat yritysten kansainvälistymisen edistäjinä. Kertomuksia Pohjois‐ Karjalan yritysjohtajilta ja ammattikorkeakoulun opiskelijoilta. Pohjois‐Karjalan ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja B:19.

Korhonen, K., Sivonen, T., Kosonen, R. & Saukkonen, P. 2008. Pohjoiskarjalaisten pienten ja keskisuurien yritysten Venäjä‐yhteistyöpotentiaali ja tukitarpeet. Helsingin kauppakorkeakoulu. Kansainvälisten markkinoiden tutkimuslaitos. April 2, 2011.

Larjovuori, R‐L., Laiho, M. & Talonen, H. 2004. Kansainvälistyvän pk‐yrityksen liiketoimintaosaamisen kehittämistarpeet. KTM Julkaisuja 27/2004. Elinkeino‐osasto.

Pirnes, H. & Kukkola, E. 2002. Kansainvälisen liiketoiminnan käsikirja. Helsinki: WSOY. Pohjois‐Karjalan elinkeino‐, liikenne‐ ja ympäristökeskus. 2010. Pohjois‐Karjalan vienti taanti 2009.

Tiedote 1.4.2010. June 15, 2011.

Regional Council of North Karelia. Regional Strategic Programme 2030. egic+Programme+2030?folderId=~maakuntaliitto%2FJulkiset%2FEnglanti&cmd=download. June 15, 2011.

Towards Innovation Pedagogy – A new approach to teaching and learning for universities of applied sciences

Towards Innovation Pedagogy outlines the concept of innovation pedagogy adopted at Turku University of Applied Sciences. The collection consists of theoretical introductions to this pedagogical approach accompanied by texts illustrating its practical applications.

The book is a follow-up to the Finnish-language work Kohti innovaatiopedagogiikkaa (edited by Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen, Heli Kanerva-Lehto & Taru Penttilä), which was published as a part of the same series in 2009. Although some of the articles are heavily based on the corresponding texts from the earlier Finnish version, the bulk of the material is either completely revised or written exclusively for this publication.

The articles are grouped into two sections. The first half comprises items with a more theoretical point of view on innovation pedagogy. The latter part focuses on individual cases, presenting good teaching and learning practices from the Faculty of Technology, Environment and Business.

It is hoped that the publication inspires discussion and generates research for developing innovation pedagogy further. The texts are primarily targeted at the staff members of universities of applied sciences as well as all the planners, developers and decision-makers partaking in activities relating to higher educational institutions.

Towards Innovation Pedagogy (Reports from Turku University of Applied Sciences 100, 2011) is available both as a free electronic book and as a printed version on Loki publication service.


Anttoni Lehto, Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen & Taru Penttilä (eds.)

International R&D at Oulu University of Applied Sciences – practices from Raahe

Historical Retrospective

Computer engineering education in Raahe was established in 1972. Raahe Campus of School of Engineering is the oldest educational institution of such kind in Finland. The School of Engineering is a part of the Oulu University of Applied 2 Sciences (formerly known as Oulu Polytechnic). The university is one of the largest universities of applied sciences in Finland with approximately nine thousand students.

From early days of education in Raahe a practical implementation of graduation work has always been a part of an educational process. Students from Raahe used to work in companies or in educational and research laboratories of Raahe campus and solve real-world problems or develop engineering solutions for the needs of on-going projects. Such practices spread around Finland and now are an essential part of educational processes of any Finnish university of applied sciences.

A history of an international research and development work has started at the same time – as some of the students from Raahe were involved into international projects in those companies, where they did their graduation work. Sometimes students worked abroad in foreign companies. This type of international R&D was not collaborative. Teachers from Raahe campus who supervised students’ graduation work were just able to acquaint themselves with some of the international practices and R&D work of the companies.

When in 1995 Finland joined the European Union, new opportunities for international collaboration opened to all educational institutions in Finland within Socrates Programme activities, such as Erasmus project, and Leonardo da Vinci Programme. Aarno Meskanen, a headmaster of Raahe Engineering School that became to be the Raahe Institute of Computer Engineering in 1999, encouraged students and staff to utilize benefits of exchange programs. A first significant result of a staff exchange was a visit of German research center by Jouko Paaso and Pentti Koskinen and their work at Fraunhofer. Both of them started their dissertations and after a period of time obtained PhD degrees.

A first international R&D project in Raahe started at a beginning of 1998. An idea of the Active Self-Directed Learner (ASL) project was to introduce educational materials explaining a nature of energy, energy sources, and the use and saving of energy. A result of this work ready for distribution was published on a CD in a form of a multimedia content.

Educational institutions from four countries participated to ASL project: Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Finland. The project has also given great opportunities for students – to be involved into an international collaboration. Some of the students were involved for an entire duration of the project – three years.

A significant step towards to development of international R&D in Raahe happened in 2001 when Pehr Brahe Laboratory (PBOL) started its operations. PBOL was founded by three organisations: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, University of Oulu, and Oulu Polytechnic (this is how the Oulu University of Applied Sciences was called by that time). Research professor Jouko Paaso was a Head of PBOL. In a beginning research fields included distributed software engineering methods, intelligent software solutions and technologies, as well as network and software business.

Groups of workers (including students) from every founding organisation shared working environment at PBOL and contributed to joined R&D operations. University of Oulu was in charge of fundamental and theoretical research. VTT was in charge of fundamental and practical research. Raahe Institute of Computer Engineering was in charge of applied research. Such excellent arrangement of PBOL’s operations allowed students from Raahe to be involved into a variety of R&D projects as members of any of the PBOL’s working groups. Students performed development and engineering work together with students of University of Oulu, and research staff of all three organisations.

One of the first international R&D activities at PBOL was the ITEA VHEMiddleware Project. The project was about interoperability between future Home Networks belonging to several distributed Smart Homes with a purpose of establishing of one Virtual Home Environment. It is also important to mention internationally-acknowledged works of Yrjö Hiltunen in such research area as the Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly – on applying of Self-organising Maps (SOM) in a variety of applied cases.

In 2004, when Aarno Meskanen retired from his post as the director of the Raahe Insitute of Technology and Business, Timo Pieskä was elected to this position. A new director also understood well an importance of an international collaboration. Staff exchange and mutual visits with foreign universities continued. During the past years collaborative agreements with several foreign universities, including some from Russia and Ukraine, were concluded. This brought a wide geography for a student exchange. A very effective collaboration was established with UBO, University of Western Brittany, Brest, France.

Recent Practices

Currently the Oulu University of Applied Sciences is reorganising own organisational structure and educational resources. The biggest changes are happening in Raahe. First, an early engineering full-time education of the Raahe Campus of School of Engineering (how it is called now) will gradually be transferred to Oulu, while a share of professional and adult education is planned to be increased in Raahe. Second, an increase of R&D activities is planned in Raahe. This will also include an international collaboration.

This year PBOL celebrated its 10-th anniversary. It is now called the Pehr Brahe Center for Industrial and Services ICT. Now PBOL operates under an agreement between Oulu University of Applied Sciences, University of Oulu, VTT and the Town of Raahe. A nature of collaboration between research groups changed in accordance to new agreement, but an idea of joined research remained.

A group from OUAS is the biggest at PBOL. It is completely formed by people from the Raahe Campus, but has a well-established cooperation with people from the Oulu Campus. The group is led by Markku Korhonen, who is at the same time a Head of R&D activities in OUAS Raahe.

Research areas are the following:

  • Semantic Web and Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence, Software Agents
  • System Interoperability, SOA
  • Ubiquitous Computing
  • Social Networks
  • Mobile Services and Applications
  • Emerging Web Development Technologies
  • Ubiquitous Web Access
  • Device Recognition and Content Adaptation
  • Mobile Devices and Technologies
  • Home Automation Networks and Technologies
  • Consumer Electronics Devices and Technologies

These research areas are very large and it is quite difficult to maintain a high level of expertise in all of them inside a group. This is where research collaboration may help. It is essential to acquire expertise and resources from own university, or from one of the partner organisations. In addition to that in Raahe strong cross-border collaboration with certain universities was established.

For example, exchange students may be employed to real development work during their project work courses. With UBO University from France, a practice of sending students for a practical training was acknowledged. Almost every year a group of three students from that university comes to Finland for a practical training at PBOL. As for expertise exchange with the same university, videoconferences and brainstorms are organised few times a year. During those, joint research project opportunities, educational and organisational moments as well as concrete research problems are discussed.

Researchers from PBOL used to attend to high-level international conferences, workshops, and organisational events. It helps to maintain a level of knowledge and develop an international appearance. Reading research papers and watching presentations online will never replace a pleasure and a usefulness of a live conversation with an expert. By answering a proper formulated question, the expert may be able to save hours if not days of work. During such live conversations there may be an opportunity for clarification or refinement of information or even for a short brainstorm in a group of other people involved into a conversation.

Regular attending to international events of similar kind will allow knowing more people of that community and being known by them. Active participation to discussions and sharing knowledge and experience may help to maintain a positive image and cause an interest to own work of a participant. Thus there may occur an opportunity to discuss of research collaboration including joint applications for project funding (e.g. Seventh Framework Programme, Advanced Research & Technology for EMbedded Intelligence and Systems, Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, etc.).

One more way to maintain a level of knowledge and develop an international appearance is to be active in online activities relevant to a research domain. This includes a membership in selected associations, unions, forums, and boards; activities at public calls for reviewing documents (e.g. standards or specifications); evaluation of a work; or just attending to online discussions of important issues. It also includes activities in online professional networks (such as groups at LinkedIn).

One has to be aware though that online activities and a process of maintaining of collaborative connections by correspondence consume highly such an important resource as time.

A very important requirement for a successful international collaboration is an availability of a concrete result of a work in an area of an expertise. Generally saying, the best result of any work is if someone (e.g. a company) will use it. A good result should be demonstrated and described. A demonstration depends on a nature of the work: it can be a series of graphs, or a working prototype. A description of work is often a weak point in case of universities of applied sciences. The best description of work is a research paper or an article. But sometimes due to resource constraints it is even difficult to produce a proper documentation for the work. This may limit collaboration opportunities.

One of the practices adopted in Raahe is organising demonstrations and collaboration-discussion meetings with visitors and exchange staff from foreign universities. Sometimes visitors are also able to demonstrate results of their work. Research staff and teachers interested in those may be invited to attend to such demonstrations. In case of mutual interest on certain work results, a further information exchange is following. This is where a lack of work description may have a negative impact.

When having a variety of research areas, it is easier to achieve success by refining a research for a smaller research domain. The OUAS group at PBOL was involved into research projects of different domains: mobile services, mobile marketing, enterprise information systems, industrial and business solutions, and home solutions. The last domain became to be a main scope of the most recent projects, such as UbiAtHome, SPIN, and Ryhti. During past projects, UbiAtHome and SPIN, practical solutions for a notion referred as Ubiquitous Home Environment (UHE) were developed.

UHE is a user-centric system – through which users can interact with their living environment and outside world – that is a part of global ubiquitous environment which is physically limited to a living area and surroundings. Home Environment is considered to be a main research domain of the OUAS group in an on-going project Ryhti. Knowledge and experience obtained in a given research domain by the group at PBOL, allowed OUAS to become to be a member of several international consortiums. One of those consortiums formed a project that was granted funding under the EU Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme.

Important Achievement

From a spring of 2010 the OUAS group began international activities relevant to the Ambient Assisted Living. The group started from a poster presentation at AALIANCE conference in Malaga, Spain. One of a consequential activity was attending to the AAL Forum 2010 in Odence, Denmark. There was a chance to see presentations of big EU initiative as for a development of universal open platform and reference specification for Ambient Assisted Living (universAAL) – and to discuss with people from that project.

Finland was not involved into the project. As a result of discussions, OUAS was invited to collaborate with the universAAL consortium. From that time the OUAS group at PBOL started an evaluation of an opportunity for a similar R&D project in Finland. As a result a new initiative was 8 publicly announced 03.05.11 at the EU networking workshop organized by VTT. The initiative is called the Finnish Reference Platform for Home Environment.

Finnish Reference Platform for Home Environment – is a national-wide platform that could serve as a basis for home solutions and can be built by a joined consolidated effort of all the stakeholders. Thus an idea is to adopt the best from a variety of EU and Finnish R&D initiatives and commercial solutions and consolidate them into one approach. The approach will result in a reference architecture for home environment solutions and services that will bring considerable benefits to end-users, businesses, and academia. Such initiative will allow Finland to be at the edge of an international R&D in a domain of home solutions.

The initiative was presented to and discussed with the universAAL project consortium during the Open Day event in Pisa, Italy, 05.05.11. Collaboration schemas are agreed.

Updated description including technical and organisational details, a list of interested stakeholders and useful information about the Finnish Reference Platform for Home Environment will be available at the following URL:


Vadym Kramar, project Officer (R&D), vadym.kramar(a), Oulu University of Applied Sciences

Current Status of Waste-to-Energy Utilisation in some parts of Baltic Sea Region

1. Introduction

This paper presents preliminary results of the REMOWE project. The overall objective of the project is, on regional levels, to contribute to a decreased negative effect on the environment by reduction of carbon dioxide emission by creating a balance between energy consumption and sustainable use of renewable energy sources. Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and use of renewable energy sources are broad areas and this project will focus on energy resources from waste and actions to facilitate implementation of energy efficient technology in the Baltic Sea region within the waste-to-energy area. The focus is to utilize waste from cities, farming and industry for energy purposes in an efficient way. The project seeks to facilitate the implementation of sustainable systems for waste-to-energy in the Baltic Sea region and specifically, in a first step, in the project partner regions. The project’s operation time is 12/2009- 12/2012.

The project partnership consists of the Mälardalen University, with the School of Sustainable Development of Society and Technology coordinating the project, and The County Administrative Board of Västmanland in Sweden, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo, and University of Eastern Finland (UEF) in Finland, Marshal Office of Lower Silesia in Poland, Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences, Fachhochschule Braunschweig / Wolfenbüttel in Germany, Klaipeda University in Lithuania, and Estonian Regional and Local Development Agency (ERKAS) in Estonia.

2. Milestones of the REMOWE project

As the first task, partner regions investigate the current status, the bottle-necks and the needs for development and innovation. Partnering regions will then jointly study possible future status and approaches to be followed, taking into consideration the characteristics of each region. Here, tailored innovation processes will be organized in five project regions. These innovation processes will result in action plans for supporting SMEs as well as recommendations for improving regulations and strategies in the regions. Possibilities to build a regional model of the waste-to-energy utilisation will be piloted in the project, with North Savo in Finland as a target region. This model could be a decisionsupport system for policy-making and investments.

The project activities are divided into 5 work packages. Work Package 1 concerns project management and Work Package 2 contains the project communication and information activities. In Work Package 3 the current status of the partner regions are explored, in Work Package 4 the possible future status is investigated and in Work Package 5 modelling of a sustainable regional waste-to-energy production will be studied.

The work presented in this report is part of the work in Work Package 3. The aim of this Work Package is to investigate the current status in the whole chain of waste- to-energy utilisation in each partner region. The results from this work package are important background information for the activities in Work Package 4 and 5. The first step in development of action plans and strategies is to investigate the current conditions and systems from which the development has to start. By describing the current status in the different partner regions it will also be possible to learn from each other and find best practices that can be transferred to other regions. The aim is also to gather basic information needed for modelling of possible future systems and their environmental impacts in Work Packages 4 and 5. Data is being gathered concerning:

  • Waste generation in farming, cities, industry
  • Energy use and infrastructure • Organic wastes composition and properties
  • Biogas potential of different waste substrates
  • Existing systems and technology used for sorting, utilisation and use of residues for/in waste-to-energy systems including economic profitability and system performance
  • Relevant governing rules, legislation, regional interpretations and current development ideas • SMEs interests in the waste-to-energy area and current development ideas
  • Regional current situation in waste advisory services

The current status in the different partner regions will then be compared and best practices that can be transferred to other regions will be identified. This will be done within a workshop with all partners.

3. Characteristics of the project regions

Five regions of the Baltic Sea region, representing various administrative units, participate in the REMOWE project (Figure 1):

  • Eesti (Estonia) – the whole country,
  • Województwo Dolnośląskie (Lower Silesia) – one of the 16 regions of Poland,
  • Klaipedos, Telsiu, Siauliu, Taurages apskritis (Western Lithuania) – 4 counties of Lithuania,
  • Pohjois-Savo (North Savo Region) – a province in Eastern Finland,
  • Västmanlands län (the County of Västmanland) – one of 21 counties in Sweden.

Germany is also represented in the project, however, as opposed to all the other participants they act as experts without any specific region.

Figure 1. REMOWE project partners
Figure 1. REMOWE project partners

Tab. 1 shows the general characteristics of each region and the entire project area. The total area is 113,195 km2 and its population amounts to 5.75 million. Lower Silesia is the largest region in terms of population – 2.9 million, while the populations of the smallest regions (in Sweden and Finland) amount to approximately 250 thousand residents.

Table 1. General characteristics of the regions
Table 1. General characteristics of the regions

4. Status of renewable energy utilisation in the representative countries

Fig. 2 presents country average shares of renewable energy in final energy consumption in 2005 along with respective targets for 2020. Sweden is leading with 39.8% of renewable energy in 2005 and the target of 49% in 2020, followed by Finland, Estonia and Lithuania. Poland had clearly the lowest share of renewables (7,2%) in 2005 and also relatively lowest target of 15% in 2020.

Figure 2. Share of renewable energy in 2005 and targets for 2020 (adapted from Olivier et al. 2008)
Figure 2. Share of renewable energy in 2005 and targets for 2020 (adapted from Olivier et al. 2008)

5. Potential waste to energy sources

The following waste and by-products have been specified as renewable energy sources:

  • municipal waste,
  • industrial waste,
  • municipal sewage sludge,
  • products, by-products and waste from agriculture and forestry.

In the following sections a comparison of main data concerning waste management and energy recovery from municipal waste, sewage sludge and biomass from agriculture and forestry is given. The comparison is limited to two regions: Lower Silesia (the most populated region) and Västmanland (the smallest region). These regions represent, respectively, the least and the most advanced countries in terms of renewable energy utilisation.

5.1 Municipal waste

Waste management in the two regions differs significantly, both in terms of quantity of waste generated as well as its treatment (see Fig 3.). Specific waste generation amounted to 691 kg/inhabitant in Västmanland while in Lower Silesia only to approximately 330 kg/inhabitant in 2008. In Lower Silesia 86.5% of the generated waste is deposited onto landfills, while in Västmanland only 8% of waste is landfilled. In the latter region 50% of waste is incinerated with energy recovery and 41% of waste undergoes recycling. In Finland in 2008, municipal waste amounted to 520 kg/inhabitant, from which 51% was landfilled, 17% incinerated with energy recovery and 32% recycled [4].

Figure 3. Municipal waste management in Lower Silesia, Västmanland and Finland
Figure 3. Municipal waste management in Lower Silesia, Västmanland and Finland

5.2 Municipal sewage sludge

Lower Silesia and Västmanland also differ with regard to the number of waste water treatment plants and the level of biological treatment of sewage sludge in these plants. Six waste water treatment plants located in Västmanland are equipped with enclosed fermentation chambers and utilise energy from biogas. Total production of biogas amounts to 2,165 million m3 /year. In Lower Silesia there are 203 waste water treatment plants, of which:

  • seven plants collect biogas and use it for electricity and heat generation (co-generation),
  • four plants collect biogas and use it for heat generation only,
  • ten plants generate biogas without collecting it (open fermentation chambers).

Currently in Lower Silesia 8.6 million m3 /year of biogas is collected in the fermentation chambers of waste water treatment plants. In Västmanland the respective figure is 2.2 million m3 /year.

In North Savo, there are 35 municipal waste water treatment plants, of which one plant digests waste water sludge and collects biogas for electricity and heat generation. In 2008, 1.1 million m3 /year of biogas was produced in this plant, of which was converted 2090 MWh electricity and 4222 MWh heat. Only 8000 t sludge is used in biogas production out of total 47000 t that is produced annually [5] [6].

Energy generation potential from biogas from municipal sewage sludge is estimated to 130 GWh/year in Lower Silesia,19 GWh/year in Västmanland and 18 GWh/year In North Savo.

5.3 Products, by-products and waste from agriculture and forestry

Manures for soil fertilisation, are not classified as waste, but as organic fertilisers. Faeces intended for fermentation do acquire the status of waste and are subject to waste management legislation. In the case of plant biomass, some of it may be treated as by-products, some other part as waste. Also, agricultural products can be used to produce energy in e.g. fermentation technology, together with animal manure.

The total energy potential of manure in North Savo is estimated to 198 GWh/a, which is based on the number of domestic animals, estimated manure generation, statistical properties of manures and batch reactor experiments [7] [8] [9] [10].

Tab. 2 provides a comparison of the energy potential of animal manures generated in both regions. In both cases the total quantities are significant. In the case of Lower Silesia it is equivalent to the yearly energy production by a plant with a capacity of about 17 MW.

Table 2. Energy potential of biogas from animal waste digestion (GWh/year)
Table 2. Energy potential of biogas from animal waste digestion (GWh/year)

6. Infrastructure for waste treatment and energy recovery

Waste management infrastructure in the two regions differs significantly. In the case of Västmanland, a significant portion of the waste is processed outside the region. It concerns in particular, the incineration of municipal waste in large regional installations. In the region there are 15 recycling stations under operation as well as one methane co-fermentation plant, which treats separately collected biowaste and two landfill sites accepting pretreated waste (landfilling of untreated waste is forbidden). In Lower Silesia, almost all municipal waste is processed in the region, in 18 plants. There are also 42 active landfills receiving municipal wastes.

7. Conclusions

Waste management in the Lower Silesia region is significantly less developed than waste management in the County of Västmanland in Sweden. This applies to both the levels of separate collection and recycling, as well as biological and thermal treatment. In 2008, the portion of municipal waste which is landfilled in Lower Silesia amounts to approximately 86.5%, while in Västmanland the respective portion is only 8%. In Finland, 51% of the municipal waste was landfilled in 2008.

Municipal waste, sewage sludge, industrial waste, and waste and by-products from agriculture are a significant source of energy with majority thereof being renewable energy.

This article is based on results of analyses conducted during the project cofinanced by the European Union under the Baltic Sea Regional Programme (Project No. #034, REMOWE). The content of the article contains only opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.


Emilia den Boer (1), Ryszard Szpadt (1), Eva Thorin (2) , Ari Jääskeläinen (3) , Laura Malo (3,4), Tuomas Huopana (5)

1 Institute of Environment Protection Engineering, Wrocław University of Technology Wybrzeże Wyspiańskiego 27, 50-370 Wrocław, Poland
2 Mälardalen University, P.O. Box 883, SE-721-23 Västerås, Sweden
3 Environmental Engineering, Teaching and Research, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Microkatu 1 C, P.O. Box 6, FI-70201 Kuopio, Finland
4 Center for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo, Sepänkatu 2 B, P.O. Box 1049, FI-70100 Kuopio, Finland
5 The Department of Environmental Science, The University of Eastern Finland, Yliopistonranta 1, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland

[1] den Boer, E., Szpadt, R., den Boer, J., Ciesielski, S., Pasiecznik, I and Wojtczuk, O. Current status of the waste-to-energy chain in Lower Silesia, Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa Dolnośląskiego i Politechnika Wrocławska, Wrocław, 2011.

[2] Thorin E., et al. Current status of the waste-to-energy chain in the County of Västmanland, Sweden. Mälardalen University, Västerås, 2011.

[3] Olivier, J.G.J., Tuinstra, W., Elzenga, H.E., van den Wijngaart, R.A., Bosch, P.R., Eickhout, R., Visser, M. Consequences of the European Policy Package on Climate and Energy Initial assessment of the consequences for the Netherlands and other Member States, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency,2008

[4] Tilastokeskus. Jätetilasto 2008. Retrieved 8.6.2011 from:

[5] Vahti, The waste data base, data from 2006 to 2009. Additional information available from:

[6] Malo, L., Koponen, L., Jääskeläinen, A. Current status of the waste-toenergy chain in the county of North Savo, Finland. Center for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo and Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Kuopio 2011. Will be available from:

[7] Tike, The statistics of Finnish agriculture and food chain, 2010, Retieved 20.5.2011 from:

[8] Viljavuuspalvelu Oy, Manure statistics from 200 to 2004, Mikkeli, Retrieved 20.5.2011 from:

[9] Huopana T., Energy efficient model for biogas production in farm scale, Master’s Thesis, Renewable Energy Programme, The University of Jyväskylä, 2011, Retrieved 20.5.2011 from: 201103211905

[10] Huopana T., and co. Becoming article about Regional biogas production in North Savo area, The University of Eastern Finland.

Notes on the Developing R&D Integrated Learning in Regional Knowledge Production

Authors: Ilkka Väänänen and Sirpa Laitinen-Väänänen


In order to facilitate the flow of knowledge, ideas and learning, communities should adopt the principles of knowledge creation and continuous learning; they must turn into “learning regions” (Florida 1995). In “learning regions”, individual and collective expertise and aspects emphasising communality are joined together (Tynjälä 2006). In striving toward a knowledge-building culture, Bereiter (2002) emphasises the close collaboration between researchers and teachers. In higher education this refers to the tighter collaboration between teachers, students and researchers. The demand that teaching and research and development (R&D) should be more firmly drawn together is a response to the number of changes in the modern knowledge society, including changes in the mission and in the funding of higher education and in the nature of knowledge and learning.

Traditionally, universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS) have offered separate learning environments for theoretical and practical studies. Today’s challenge has been to bridge this gap and enhance the interface between universities and workplaces. Study modules like internship (LaitinenVäänänen et al. 2007) and project works (Helle et al. 2006) have been seen as forums for this kind of encounter. When learning in classrooms can be fictive and theoretical, the participation in the R&D activities offers students a chance to step outside and into real life to meet potential employers and clients. At its best, students have the chance to participate in R&D –projects so they may integrate theoretical and practical knowledge, test ideas, work together on specific problems and contribute to the mode-2 type labeled knowledge production (Gibbons et al. 1994) in multidisciplinary teams, which has been considered illustrative for UAS (Surakka 2008).

In mode-2 type of knowledge production, the traditional distinction between R&D and learning/teaching tends to break down. Distinguished from traditional mode-1 type of knowledge production, which is investigator-initiated and discipline based, the mode-2 type is problem-focused and multidisciplinary. Though individual interests exist, the goal of knowledge production is shared and mutual.

Furthermore, the state policy in an individual country, like in Finland, can challenge the UAS to contribute to regional development by carrying out R&D and by organising higher education studies and promoting the lifelong learning (Act of University of Applied Science 351/2003, 5§). In addition, the UAS have been expected to promote and diffuse innovations by working together with local partners, like public organizations and especially small and medium size enterprises.

The aim of this article is to examine and reveal basic elements that occur during the R&D integrated learning process. The observations were made by reflecting on the procedure and the feedback of implemented learning and “Good Ageing in Lahti Region” (GOAL) -research and development project. Finally, different models of integrating learning and R&D were discussed and conceptualised.

“Good Ageing in Lahti Region” (GOAL) -research and development

The bachelor students (n=134) from social and health care degree programs (nursing, physiotherapy, social services) in Lahti UAS participated as research assistants in the large, ten year “Good Ageing in Lahti Region” – research project (GOAL), who’s unique network combined one university, one UAS, one research institution, one public health care organisation and 15 municipalities. The assignment of the students was to organise the follow-up measurements in collaboration with lecturers (n=3) and other research actors e.g. project steering committee (n=12) during winter 2008. The integration of the GOAL research project into the professional studies of students was designed by faculty lecturers and the research coordinator. In order to analyse the learning outcomes of the participants, the feedback/reflection meeting was organised at the end of process. The data from students, lecturers, researchers and examinees (n=2817) was collected by interviews, students’ learning diaries, observation notes, and a 360°- feedback questionnaire.

According to the feedback, students were very active and the working atmosphere was mostly positive. The students found rehearsing practical skills prior to fieldwork important and necessary. In the beginning of the fieldwork, they felt afraid and tense, but afterwards the experience turned positive. The work in the R&D project was brisk compared to the theoretical studies and they appreciated the research-centered approach. Furthermore, the R&D project offered the students the change to integrate different professional competencies.

The examinees found students friendly and customer-oriented, although some mistakes and errors in measuring and in results occurred.

The participating researchers and project steering committee found students’ contribution challenging, but very important and helpful. The integration of students’ work into data collection decreased the expenses and the whole data collection would not have been possible without the students’ collaboration.

Lecturers were mostly motivated and satisfied with the process. They appreciated the researchers’ participation. They felt that this kind of studying emphasises the importance of integrating new content knowledge into practice. However, they wished for smaller student groups and for a longer fieldwork period. Furthermore, the co-operation between degree programs was inflexible and they did not succeeded in integrating the practical fieldwork into the theoretical studies well enough. In addition, the faculty was not informed well enough about all the learning possibilities the project served. For example, only one thesis was integrated into the GOAL-project.

In the following chapter, the conceptualised R&D integrated learning model is represented. The model was constructed by analysing the procedure and the feedback of the GOAL–project.

R&D integrated learning model

The basic elements in the R&D integrated learning model, represented in Figure 1, are based on the vision and the mission of the higher education institution and on the challenges of the region and the discipline faced today and in the future. It is a systematic increasing of knowledge. The model of R&D integrated learning combines knowledge, skills and attitudes. After setting the aims, the working and study methods are selected, followed by the different outcomes, which represent the increased know-how of the region.

R&D-integrated learning facilitates working life orientation and studentcenteredness in curricula. Therefore, it is highly challenging and motivating at the same time. This kind of new studying and learning model implies a transfer from teaching to learning. The guiding principle in teaching and learning is competence-driven. In addition, learning environments, like R&D projects, which facilitate students’ participation, are encouraged. Furthermore, the R&D-integrated learning model challenges lecturers’ to develop their R&D project skills and skills to supervise students in conducting the projects.

Figure 1. The basic elements in the R&D-integrated learning model
Figure 1. The basic elements in the R&D-integrated learning model

Network and Innovation Integrated Learning –model (NIIL)

Regarding the increase of regional knowledge and know-how, other contributors besides higher education institution are involved. The Finnish innovation system consists of the producers and users of the knowledge and the various interactive relations between them. Central elements in the innovation system are education and training, R&D, and knowledge-intense business. New knowledge is produced by universities, research institutions, and business, among others.

In the next section of this article, we present the “Network and Innovation Integrated Learning –model (NIIL), where knowledge is a process of construction. In NIIL, partners negotiate meanings and build knowledge within a social context together (Figure 2).

During the traditional student- and learning task-centric teaching model (Figure 2), the student is in focus. At worst, she or he stays as a passive object, where as in student-driven NIIL-model, students work as an equal partner in an innovative eco-system, where diverse partners–e.g. higher education institutions, businesses, the public sector–work and innovate together. This kind of rewarding community of knowledge production includes more creativity, flow and spontaneous buzz than rules, order and liner processes. Innovation competence is mentioned as one of the generic competences of UAS graduates in Finland (Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences ARENE ry. 2010). Description of the competence in bachelor level is described as following: “is able to conduct research, development and innovation projects applying the existing knowledge and methods of the field, is able to work in projects, is capable of creative problem solving and development of working methods and is able to find customer oriented, sustainable and profitable solutions”.

Figure 2. The traditional “Student and Learning task -centric” (left) and the new “Network and Innovation Integrated Learning” (right) -models
Figure 2. The traditional “Student and Learning task -centric” (left) and the new “Network and Innovation Integrated Learning” (right) -models

There are two existing examples of the NIIL-model from Lahti University of Applied Sciences which can be mentioned: The Pocket School
( and the “Rock your body” – learning module. In the Pocket School, students use smart phones to capture service-design
significant moments and real world situations. They can then save and share the video clips via social media. The key concepts in the Pocket School are prosumer (professional–consumer, producer–consumer), service design, crowd sourcing, foresight, smart phones, brand, tele-education, video clips and social media. The “Rock your body” – learning module integrates theory and practice into the scientific research study (Väänänen 2003). The “Rock your body” idea was initiated by a private furniture company. The learning model has produced an innovative fitness training program for elderly people, a new rocking chair prototype, and several scientific research papers (Väänänen 2004; Väänänen 2006a; Väänänen 2006b; Väänänen 2006c; Niemelä et al. 2007; Niemelä et al. 2008; Niemelä et al. 2010)

These two presented R&D learning models illustrate the basic elements in the interface of R&D and learning. They both need further assessment and practical testing in order to validate them. The models can be used in conceptualising the teaching practices and in visualising the role of the diverse partners in knowledge production.


We wish to thank Mrs. Reetta Jänis, Mrs. Anne Vuori and Mr. Sami Makkula for their kind help with this article.


Ilkka Väänänen, PhD, is a research director at the Innovation Centre in the
multidisciplinary Lahti University of Applied Science in Finland and is a member
of the Good Ageing in Lahti Region – project steering group.

Sirpa Laitinen-Väänänen, PhD, is a principal lecturer at the Teacher Education
College in Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. Previously she
worked as a principal lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Health Care in Lahti
University of Applied Science and as a member of the research group in the
Good Ageing in Lahti Region – project.

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