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Xamk has a mandate to equip students with relevant skills and knowledge for employment in its home regions of South Savo and Kymenlaakso, to promote entrepreneurship and international relations, and to co-develop new solutions for businesses and industries.
Compared to many other regions in Finland, the populations of South Savo and Kymenlaakso are, on average, less highly educated, less international, shrinking, and ageing faster. Moreover, there are relatively fewer high-performing companies in these regions to ensure their future economic viability.
The bright side is that public entities, economic actors, and educational institutions understand these challenges well. Fortunately, education, research, innovation, entrepreneurship, and investments are increasingly providing solutions to these challenges and creating new growth opportunities.
Part of our Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) impact strategy is that by 2030, Xamk will have made a significant contribution to the renewal of Eastern Finland’s environmental, social, and economic vitality.
Xamk aims to achieve such impact by bringing students and expertise to the region, and by fostering entrepreneurship.
It is crucial that we educate people for the jobs of the future. We need to innovate technologies, products, and service concepts that our region can leverage. In all these areas, we must be able to predict trends and developments.
Xamk’s Business Development Team, Xentre, has developed a collaboration model that does precisely that, building synergies and predictability between education, RDI, and businesses.
“At Xamk, we make collaboration opportunities easily accessible and understandable for companies, with Xamk offering its full range of resources in education, RDI, and services. We form multidisciplinary teams to support such collaboration,” says Heta Vilén, Stakeholder Relations Manager.
“Starting in 2022, we’ve been interviewing and arranging meetings with some 40 companies to map their needs and explore potential partnerships.”
In reaching out to the companies, Heta and her team took inventory of the current situation, future challenges and opportunities in the region, as well as their expectations towards Xamk.
The team identified four distinct company profiles.
Renewers and Growth Partners are companies and organisations with innovative growth potential, driven by the need for skill development and motivated to collaborate. This group in particular benefits from expertise obtained through student projects and traineeships.
Local Vitalisers seek collaboration to create vitality and success locally and regionally, shaping a common future. They are keen to make the region attractive to students and professionals from elsewhere in Finland and abroad.
Large Corporations, in many cases, have already had a long history of collaboration with Xamk and its predecessors, Kyamk and Mamk. They aim to influence the content of courses provided by Xamk in order to align them with the needs of the labour market.
A fourth category consists of Organisations Struggling for Existence. They seek collaboration with Xamk in order to address operational challenges.
The most frequently mentioned challenge is workforce availability. This includes issues related to matching skills with the needs of the labour market, especially in the rapidly changing and evolving business environment. There is fierce competition for skilled professionals.
The second most frequently mentioned challenge is the economic climate, in particular cost development due to inflation, changes in the business environment, and geopolitical developments. The cost of energy stands out here.
Also frequently mentioned were demographics and challenges related to well-being and an ageing population.
“In Xamk’s core partnership model, we seek close collaboration with the leading companies in our region. Together we develop a model to strengthen our collaboration and vitality in the short and long term. The broader goal is to anticipate future needs and address them.”
One natural core partner with whom Xamk has developed close collaboration is Andritz, an international conglomerate that offers diverse industrial supply services. Andritz Savonlinna Works Oy supplies equipment and machinery to the global pulp and paper industry.
Through the Savonlinna Fiber Laboratory, an innovation centre in bioproduct technology, several innovations in the forest industry’s processes and equipment have been introduced to the world in collaboration with companies, with Andritz playing a significant role.
Another one of Xamk’s core partners is Lumon, an international balcony and terrace glazing company headquartered in Kouvola.
Lumon is a long-standing partner of Xamk and serves as a patron company for robotics and artificial intelligence education. As a patron company, Lumon provides students with various development tasks of varying complexity, internship and summer job opportunities, as well as support for thesis projects.
As an example, students from Xamk have been designing and testing robots to package the many nuts and bolts that come with Lumon’s glazing products.
On the initiative of KSS Energia, Xamk developed a programme with the company to have an interdisciplinary group of students from design, business and engineering ideate and pilot new services and products for KSS’s customers.
Our partners also include business federations, chambers of commerce, and regional entrepreneurial organisations, which serve as messengers to a wider range of companies.
Stakeholder Relations Manager, Heta Vilén, firstname.lastname (at) xamk.fi