Creating a carbon neutral economy, finding sustainable energy solutions and improving environmental quality of products are challenges to be tackled globally. The demand for greener solutions is acute and new business opportunities are appearing for companies operating in the industry. Business in Biotechnology and Circular Economy (BBC1) project helps Finnish and Russian companies in the line of business to get through and succeed in the cross-border markets.

The project creates collaboration between the countries in the field of biotechnology and circular economy and supports companies in finding new business opportunities and models in the foreign market. The support provided for entrepreneurship and business cooperation enables also finding solutions for common problems and will improve sustainable economic growth in the cross-border region.


Cross-border collaboration in Corona times

Partnering universities, South Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and ITMO University from St. Petersburg coordinate the planned activities of the project. To reach out to the entrepreneurs working on the development of sustainable solutions, an innovation competition for startups was announced in the beginning of the year. The pitching event was supposed to be arranged in St. Petersburg as a part of Ecology of Big City trade fair in March, but as everything else in the world, the event was cancelled due to the Corona outbreak. All the planned activities had to be rethought and transferred online.

Cross-border cooperation is a key element in our project implementation. The Corona situation brought us some challenges, but has also forced us to deepen the collaboration. Now we are collaborating in digital cross-border implementations also with other cross-border projects


, comments the project manager Anna-Maija Torniainen from Xamk Small Business Center. On her initiative, the different projects running between the two universities have started to find out synergies on the organized activities by different projects. Deeper cooperation between the universities enhances the flow of information concerning the startup scene and helps commercialization the scientific research results.

Next year, BBC1 project will offer training also for established companies operating in the industry. The cross-border training program is designed for companies, which are interested in the cross-border market and are in need to improve their international competences. To identify the challenges and opportunities for the business growth and internationalization, as well as examining the prerequisites for product development and localization, ongoing research is implemented in order to ensure adequate training. The training program will be organized jointly and according to the circumstances of the time. More information will be announced later.

The world is in acute need for greener solutions to run the economy. The situation brings about business opportunities across the industries.


Kick-off for the journey

Now, acceleration programs have started online in both of the countries for the entrepreneurs signed up for the innovation competition. This week (week 25), the BBC Accelerator Program kicked-off in Finland with an introductory session. The online program consists of eight virtual live-session and includes joint activities with Russian partners. Each workshop-based session will offer training and mentoring to further the development of business ideas by experienced coaches, partner experts and the other program participants. The program is a channel for cross-border networking and also receiving information about the ongoing startup events in Finland and abroad.

I’m hoping to get support with clarifying the business model and building up a team. We are seeking advice on how to find partners, who have the ability to share a vision of the future business models in circular economy, utilizing technology


, says the program participant, Hanna Castren-Niemi. The MBA student in management (Xamk) is the other founder of a platform ecosystem Beyond Circulation, which is on an idea stage. She is especially excited about the opportunity to network and to find international investors, provided by the accelerator program.

The partner experts will offer their insight on Russian market by contributing to the accelerator program’s sessions and give feedback on the business ideas. During the process the participants will get assignments and build up their pitch deck preparing them eventually to be ready for presenting their solutions to the world. The pitching event cancelled in March will be held later in the autumn, online.


The project is administered by Miksei Mikkeli and partnered by South Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk), ITMO University, Russia and the Association for Environmental Partnership (AsEP), Russia. The project is funded by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland. Project website:



Anna-Maija Torniainen, Project Manager
Elina Pöllänen, RDI Specialist