LADEC continues the legacy of Lahti's year as the European Green Capital


For Lahti, 2021 was a unique year in many ways. The year spent as the European​ Green Capital wastunnus_turkoosi_pohja_270px.jpg a stepping stone for several projects that promoted the circular economy and sustainable development, and Lahti Region Development LADEC was also strongly involved in these projects. Now that Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital has ended, LADEC looks towards the future and will continue its work on sustainable development.

One of LADEC’s missions is to support businesses with solutions related to sustainable development and responsibility. Director Tomi Tura, who is in charge of business region development at LADEC, thinks that the long-term work carried out by businesses in relation to the themes of circular economy and sustainable development contributed to Lahti receiving the status of the European Green Capital.LADEC-Tomi-Tura_rajattu_lumihiutalekehys_200px.jpg

According to Tura, there are 10,000 companies in the Lahti region, and most of them will have to​ continue assessing what responsibility and sustainable development actually mean and how they are realised in business in practice – and also what new opportunities such things as the circular economy can offer for their business.

-    A significant number of the joint projects we have implemented with businesses are, in one way or another, tied to the themes of Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital: responsibility, sustainable development and the circular economy, Tura remarks.

The attractiveness of the Lahti region has been increased by projects such as the project coordinated by LADEC for the development of sustainable development indicators in SMEs, the launch of the Green Electrification of Mobility Cluster, and numerous circular economy projects of the companies involved in the Grain Cluster.

-    It has been interesting to note that, for a significant number of the new businesses that establish themselves in the Lahti region, important reasons to choose Lahti as their home have included Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital and the activities related to the year’s themes, as well as the growing and evolving LUT University, Tura continues.

From side streams into business

During Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital, Business Development Manager Jukka Selin from LADEC was contacted many times by companies regarding the circular economy. Selin cooperates closely with the companies involved in the Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster, among others.LADEC-Selin-Jukka_rajattu_lumihiutalekehys_200px.jpg

-    The companies in the Grain Cluster continuously participate in various circular economy projects that study the separation of valuable materials from the side streams of production. Together with the companies in the cluster, we have looked into new prospective methods of separating hemicelluloses, proteins and fatty acids, among other things. They are of interest to the food and cosmetics industries in particular.​

-    Additionally, we have studied the value chain and functionality of raw materials such as birch sap. This has garnered interest in the bakery and drink sectors in particular, Selin says.

At present, LADEC is working with breweries, LUT and LAB University of Applied Sciences on carrying out reviews related to such things as the recovery and utilisation of carbon dioxide from a business point of view.

-    In industrial companies, the whole system is increasingly leaning towards production side streams no longer being used for energy and feed but being refined into actual new business, Selin summarises.

Indicators for sustainable development

Last winter, SMEs in Päijät-Häme developed indicators for sustainable development. This joint project between LADEC, LUT University and the Lahti Industrial Association was implemented with funding granted for projects related to Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital.

According to Business Development Manager Essi Artima-Sulkinoja, who was a coordinatorLADEC-Artima-Sulkinoja-Essi-3700_rajattu_lumihiutalekehys_200px.jpg in the​ Kestävän kehityksen mittarointi pk-yrityksissä (Measuring the sustainable development goals in SMEs) project, the project received excellent feedback from the participating companies and will continue as part of the courses offered by LUT.

-    At LADEC, we will continue providing consultation for companies regarding themes related to responsibility as usual. There is an enormous need for information, as consumers increasingly expect responsible actions from companies and require environmental matters to be taken into account. Additionally, the EU’s increasingly strict taxonomy requires companies to take into account and compensate not only their carbon footprint but also the loss of biodiversity in the future.

Consumers’ concerns about climate change are also bringing about a rapid change in transportation, the transformation of which the City of Lahti and the companies, public operators and higher education institutions in the Lahti region are closely involved in.

Business cooperation platform

Launched by LADEC, the Lahti region’s Green Electrification of Mobility Cluster (Lahti GEM) continues the story of Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital, which has already spawned Finland’s first professorship in electric transportation at LUT University.

Business Development Manager Tiina Jauhiainen from LADEC describes Lahti GEM as a cooperation platform andLADEC-Jauhiainen-Tiina_rajattu_lumihiutalekehys_200px.jpg forum of the companies in the industry. It has given rise to fruitful dialogue​ between different types of operators in a short amount of time.

-    The development of electric transportation is strongly linked to solutions for energy generation and distribution, which offer a multitude of opportunities for new types of business. Together, the carbon-neutral construction cluster in the Lahti region and electric transportation solutions can create a potential platform for developing business operations.

According to Jauhiainen, the cluster is currently working on projects related to themes such as a smart electric grid and the distribution and control of electricity. These projects combine expertise in a wide range of areas, including the data economy, digital solutions and services, and virtual development environments.

-    We promote these projects in good cooperation with educational institutions, research institutes, companies and public sector operators, Jauhiainen says.

At the forefront of electric transportation

Business Development Manager Pekka Komu, who works with the companies involved in Lahti GEM along with Tiina Jauhiainen, thinks that Lahti GEM forms a continuum with Lahti’s year as the European Green Capital and that its development is only just starting.LADEC-Komu-Pekka_rajattu_lumihiutalekehys_200px.jpg

-    For example, hydrogen is one of the most interesting power sources of the future, and it is great that there are plans to build a production facility for it in Lahti in particular. If implemented, a facility​ that produces renewable methane and green hydrogen would promote both the storage and distribution of electricity, Komu states.

In order for companies operating in and relocating to the region to grow, it is necessary to actively train new capable employees. According to Tiina Jauhiainen, this shortage in capable employees is currently being tackled with educational institutions.

-    Salpaus Further Education will increase its student intake for upper secondary education in electrical and automation engineering, while LAB University of Applied Sciences was recently assigned the educational responsibility for electrical and automation engineering. LUT University invests strongly in research through such things as the professorship and research team in electric transportation, as well as in education through a master’s degree programme that will start in autumn 2022.

Jauhiainen is pleased that Lahti in particular has made a name for itself at the forefront of electric transportation.

-    Lahti is situated in an excellent location in terms of logistics and has a stellar business and cooperation network made up of experts in the industry. Through the cluster, we can promote such things as the development of the national distribution infrastructure required by electric transportation in a somewhat anticipatory manner, Jauhiainen envisions.


Script: Taru Schroderus
Main image: Lahden kaupunki, kuvaaja Tuomas Uusheimo
Portraits: ISOKuva Panu Rissanen