Business Joensuu’s ACCELERATE Business Accelerator service offers expert coaching and growth sparring for companies whose products or services are ready to be scaled to international markets. The coaching programme is now being piloted with three growth-oriented companies from Central Karelia ready to take on the world.

The ACCELERATE service has so far been available to companies operating in Joensuu, Ilomantsi, Polvijärvi, Outokumpu and Heinävesi. Now Business Joensuu and Central Karelia Development Company KETI Ltd are extending the service to companies operating in Kitee, Tohmajärvi and Rääkkylä. The pilot project has been prepared in cooperation with the town of Kitee.

The first three companies selected for the accelerator service are Narskuttelu Oy, a company in Kitee that produces oral hygiene and xylitol products, Puruveden Savukala Oy, a fish smokehouse, and Lamminranta Oy, a Tohmajärvi-based company that services bore wells.

Aiming for long-term, controlled growth

The concept behind the ACCELERATE programme is a long-term approach. In the pilot project, Business Joensuu and a company aiming for growth commit to growth coaching for a year’s time. After one year, it’s time to sum up experiences and analyse benefits.

In the programme, the business accelerator and the customer company work together to implement the company’s business plan. Progress within the growth plan is monitored in monthly coaching meetings. The content of the coaching programme is planned according to the needs of each company in ten different areas.

– Sales and marketing often play a key role because they have a major role in finding growth, says Business Coach Kari Pulkkinen  from Business Joensuu. – But we do spar the companies in a versatile way on topics varying from strategy for copyright protection to the role of management in product development.

KETI Managing Director Risto Hiltunen recognises that growth requires a lot from small companies in particular; as the business expands, so do the needs of financial administration, marketing and other areas. Many micro-sized companies often feel unprepared for that leap. Hiltunen explains that KETI has still identified several growth-related companies in Central Karelia.

– Particularly the young generation of entrepreneurs sees a natural continuum of growth from the regional level to the international market and have set that as their goal from the start, Hiltunen says. – I believe that the ACCELERATE sparring could provide tools for other local companies, too, on how to grow to the next size category in a goal-oriented but controlled manner.

Support, education and funding for companies in North Karelia

As Harri Palviainen, CEO of Business Joensuu, sees it, there are three key strengths in North Karelia for growth-oriented companies: strong support organisations, large educational institutions and opportunities for funding.

– The regional support organisations play well together, as evidenced by this pilot. An educated workforce is another point of strength; Joensuu has more students in proportion to its population than anywhere else in Finland. And, of course, there are funds available for growth. In our back pocket, we at Business Joensuu have two funds totalling EUR 8.5 million for investing in young companies.

– Despite Covid, some 500 companies were established in North Karelia last year, and about 60 companies moved here. So companies do see that there are plenty of possibilities for growth here. We want to further increase those possibilities with this kind of piloting.

The companies participating in the pilot project pay a contribution to the ACCELERATE programme while Karelia Development Company KETI Ltd sponsors an additional sum. The trial period starts right away, and the initial meetings with the participating companies will be held already at the end of June.

Further information:

Harri Palviainen, CEO, Business Joensuu, harri.palviainen@businessjoensuu.fi, +358 500 967 744,

Risto Hiltunen, Managing Director, Central Karelia Development Company KETI Ltd, risto.hiltunen@keti.fi, +358 50 303 1313.