BLOG: Gains from Intersectoral Brainstorm


A new kind of cross-sectoral forum, GainStorm, was held in Tampere Hall on Thursday 15th September. 7-minute talks, conversation and networking took place between members of the business community, the City of Tampere and Tampere’s universities. Nearly 100 took part in the event.

Informal networking forums are important for scientists, business people, engineers and public sector experts and enable them to brainstorm. Having TV-person Simo Frangén as the “moderator” ensured that the event was also fun. These kinds of encounters have longer term effects, according to the “godfather” of the idea, University teacher Mikko Perkiö, from the Programme for Global Health and Development, at the University of Tampere.

The Mayor of Tampere, Anna-Kaisa Ikonen envisions the city as a “Smart City” in which civil servants are more facilitators than producers of services. Tampere as a campus city would be known as a facilitator and testing ground for new innovations such as IT applications and digitalization linked to new urban culture and new forms of community, including the sharing economy.

The business leaders; Aarne Actan, the CEO of Pihlajalinna and independent innovator Jari Pasanen; welcomed the collaboration of academics and researchers and mentioned their concern at how from the business viewpoint, it often takes too long for collaborative results to be utilized. Following on from this, senior expert Oras Tynkkynen from SITRA voiced a need for sectoral boundaries to be more fluid, which would mean freer movement of human resources between academia, business and administration.

On the other hand, students and researchers can provide businesses with critical observations on product development as is the case in the “Demola” project. Professor Jyrki Nummenmaa and Janne Eskola Demola introduced Demola as a platform for developing projects or practices, i.e. creating demos, between students and business or public sectors. The famous Demola, a “made in Tampere” innovation, now operates through 17 offices world-wide. Demola network includes over 600 company partners and over 40 universities.

The most challenging problems, such as global warming require transcending sectoral boundaries. To face future challenges, Oras Tynkkynen introduced new branches of “green business”, many of which relate to practical solutions to everyday needs such a turnkey-version of solar panels. A global perspective offers Tampere-3 University a way to internationalize its research and staff, which is likely to improve its outcome, as outlined by Rector, Liisa Laakso.

The speakers identified concrete global problems and how global partnerships could function optimally. Teacher training, water and sanitation issues along with various social innovations were seen as potentially being the most beneficial collaborations from a low income partner’s angle. Fortunately, the innovative Tampere-3 University will have strong capabilities in these areas. Furthermore, a GainStorm participant Dr. Antti Kasvio published an informative blog on global wellbeing (in Finnish)

The University of Tampere is developing a new profile in Global governance and responsibility, which consolidates and updates its historical mandate as a “grand” school of management, social science and health to global level. It is important that the city of Tampere steadfastly stands by the university and assumes the role of facilitator when needed.