In Joensuu, students at different levels of education have the opportunity to combine studies and entrepreneurship in a completely novel way. For over two years, entrepreneurship studies at Riveria, Karelia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Eastern Finland have utilised the new cooperation opportunities provided by SPARK Joensuu. Entrepreneurial studies and start-up business activities are accelerated in the shared Science Park facilities. There, inspiration for student entrepreneurship and concrete practical support for incipient business are provided under the same roof by Business Joensuu, TE Services, Junior Achievement Finland’s Joensuu office and Pohjois Karjalan Yrittäjät. Each of these parties shares the will to make SPARK Joensuu the world’s best place for combining studies and entrepreneurship.

To ensure future success, North Karelia needs new companies and especially new high-growth entrepreneurs. SPARK Joensuu was conceived from the practical need to experiment with entrepreneurship already during studies and to develop business activities as easily and safely as possible, surrounded by support networks. A shared will gave rise to SPARK Joensuu, a student entrepreneurship-oriented meeting place that enables entrepreneurial cooperation between students of various fields from three educational organisations.

Science Park’s shared facilities provide a place where students can brainstorm, work on business ideas and network with like-minded entrepreneurial peers. Young students and adult learners can mingle together in the communal facilities on the 3rd floor of the Science Park building 3A.

To foster the development of new companies, SPARK Joensuu has shifted from cooperation to concrete joint operation with the aim of increasing the number of successful Joensuu-based companies. In addition to studies, student entrepreneurship is supported by personal coaches. Business Joensuu’s highly experienced experts provide business development sparring. A TE Services expert working in the same premises gives advice on start-up grants, for example. Junior Achievement Finland’s study programmes ranging from pre-primary education to higher education offer youths a variety of opportunities, such as one-year entrepreneurship trials with real money as part of the JA Company Programme. The Pohjois Karjalan Yrittäjät association serves as a link to companies, enabling students to, for example, give qualification-related demonstrations, provide companies with instruction on making YouTube or TikTok videos on one-day jobs, or familiarise themselves with companies on a low-threshold.

At SPARK Joensuu, it is easy for Riveria to implement all student entrepreneurship-related coaching and activities either virtually or through a hybrid approach. In cooperation with various actors, Riveria students also make live broadcasts on the Asenne (Attitude) channel and produce the Peruuttamaton Asenne (Irreversible Attitude) podcasts which promote entrepreneurial thinking and operating culture. At SPARK Joensuu, Riveria students take the first steps of the JA Company Programme. For Riveria’s entrepreneurship students, SPARK Joensuu offers path studies that enable access to the Karelia University of Applied Sciences’ business-oriented Y-academy.

SPARK Joensuu brings together the entrepreneurship studies offered by Karelia University of Applied Sciences. It houses a learning environment for entrepreneurship and team learning as well as Y-Academy’s student companies and some of the academy’s operations. The Draft entrepreneurship programme provides students with funding and methods to establish a company with a personal appearance and gain experience in launching commercially successful products. The programme is underway at Karelia University of Applied Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Riveria, Savonia University of Applied Sciences and Savo Vocational College. In addition, Karelia University of Applied Sciences’ activities at SPARK Joensuu include entrepreneurship-related labour market training and intensive coaching developed by the Base Camp project.

The University of Eastern Finland also uses SPARK to organise lectures, events and workshops related to entrepreneurship jointly with Karelia University of Applied Sciences and Business Joensuu, for example. Due to the corona situation, live events are currently on hold, but university students can use SPARK Joensuu independently for entrepreneurship studies and the promotion of their business activities. Some students already utilise the opportunities offered by SPARK Joensuu and have placed their workstations in SPARK. START coaching focused on refining research-based business ideas is an excellent path towards entrepreneurship.

The first companies have already gained momentum through cooperation with SPARK Joensuu. For example, Toasted Oy, which aims to renew the Finnish fast food culture, and the wallpaper design company Löytönen Wallpaper were established as part of the JA Company Programme. After the programme, both companies received funding from educational institutions’ joint Draft entrepreneurship programme, after which the companies were provided with Business Joensuu’s START training for start ups. Spikeboys Oy, a company established jointly by students from the University of Eastern Finland and Karelia University of Applied Sciences, started in the Draft programme and applied to Business Joensuu’s START coaching for business sparring and training for the development of a sports game.

Further information:

Business Joensuu
Janita Ylitalo, Service Director
Tel. +358 50 558 0214
janita.ylitalo@businessjoensuu.fi

Riveria
Marjut Helvelahti, Teacher of Entrepreneurship
Tel. +358 50 410 1228
marjut.helvelahti@riveria.fi

Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Heikki Immonen, Principal Lecturer of Entrepreneurship
Tel. +358 50 310 9657
heikki.immonen@karelia.fi

University of Eastern Finland
Arttu Taponen, Account Manager
Tel. +358 50 439 0172
arttu.taponen@uef.fi