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Wasa Future Festival (WFF) 2024


The Vaasa region and the Nordic Kvarken EGTC can become a significant European center of excellence and growing competitiveness over the next 20 years, especially in the fields of energy and the green transition. Europe needs pioneers as it is falling behind the rest of the world economically and technologically compared to the time following the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

A key theme is “Modern Export Industry Policy” (MEIP), which does not only mean industrial buildings and production but also expertise, know-how, productivity, and understanding of world markets. Products and services must remain competitive for decades. During the WFF days, the region’s actions will be comprehensively reviewed and decided upon: technology development, innovation, R&D levels, utilization of talents, education and new learning environments, productivity improvement, healthcare reform, and integration of leisure and culture into the goals. Each session aims for collaboration and concrete measures for the coming year. 

Good people are more important than institutions and structures. Projects must respond to real needs, not the other way around. 

Festival days will start at 8:30 AM with breakfast at the Wasa Innovation Center (Mindsquare), where the main sessions of the event will also be held. The last session of the day is from 2:40 PM to 4:00 PM. During the days, there will also be side events and ‘Invitation Only’ meetings. These will mainly be held in other meeting rooms; see the program for details. 


Monday 5.8.

Forestry Day
organized by, among others, the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia
“200 million € more from Ostrobothnia’s forests with the same harvesting volumes” 


Lunch for speakers, Regional Council of Ostrobothnia


Mats Brandt, Regional Director, Regional Council of Ostrobothnia


“Political Autumn”
Member of Parliament Matias Marttinen, Coalition Party


“From Finland’s Forests and Countryside Come the Ingredients of the Future” 
State Secretary Päivi Nerg, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
including 10 minutes of discussion


“From timber to medicines – added value in the forestry sector”
Monika Österberg, Professor, Aalto University, member of the Finnish Scientific Panel for Forest Bioeconomy

Wood is the Way Forward!
Maarit Lindström, Director, Forest Industries Federation 


Coffee break


Opening: Permanent Exhibition  “The Region’s Innovations and Expertise”
Venue: Showroom


Industrial Areas, Circular Economy and Industrial Carbon Sinks 
Alholmen Circular Economy Platform, Åsa Björkman, Concordia


“New Rural Life”
Sun, wind, and water – long-term sustainable resources in vibrant countryside.
Ingvar Kulla, CEO, Esse Elektro-Kraft
Mathias Högbacka, Executive Director, Aktion Österbotten and PEAK Project (Development of a Local Energy System in Ostrobothnia)

Tuesday 6.8.



University Day
“Breaking through Borders, Broadening our Perspectives”

University of Vaasa, Novia, VAMK, Åbo Akademi


Vaasa Spouse Program Panel Discussion (University of Vaasa)
Venue: Mindsquare


Lunch, Bock’s Corner Brewery


Vaasa International Talents Presentation
Venue: MindSquare


“The Future is Vegan” – Hanna Hietikko: Announcement event of Viral Vegan’s book “Rakkaat eläimet”
Venue: RightWing
Authors Pavel Tahkovuori and Benjamin Pitkänen are signing their new book that will be published at the beginning of August and chatting with festival participants about veganism, food and animal rights. Vegan delicacy serving.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship Afternoon, Philipp Holtkamp & Patrik
Venue: MindSquare

    1. Entrepreneurship in Vaasa – Updates and Discussion of ongoing activities – Building the Vaasa Startup Ecosystem (Philipp, Patrik, Jussi & Marko)
    2. Workshop on the impact of the pandemic on innovation culture. How did the innovation culture change? What kind of remedies, policies, and approaches could be implemented to strengthen the innovation culture of the region? Linking to the topics around culture 3.0 to develop concrete actions.


“Imagine the future of media” – Hanna Hietikko: Discuss with student media Pomedia journalists!
Venue: RightWing
Imagine and write to our canvas your ideas about the best possible future of communication, journalism, social media, games . What if everything goes well? What is possible? What is good development?


KvarkenSat / SpaceEconomy
Venue: Right Wing
Space Business Learning Café: What kind of business models does Space enable? For you? Your company? The region? How do we leverage space to enable new products and services? Learning café style workshop to untangle the mystery of new space business and the usage of space data to strengthen existing businesses or create new business opportunities.


The Best Possible Future of Journalism – How News Media Can Thrive in Finland
Venue: Right Wing
A hybrid panel discussion that explores the significance, funding models, and necessity of journalism: The audience can also ask questions and participate in the discussion both on-site and via chat.

Host and moderator Hanna Hietikko, project manager at the University of Vaasa
Olli Seuri,, Ilkka-Pohjalainen, Vasabladet


YoungTalk24 – International talents and SME’s: an evening of solutions in the spirit of co-creation


Networking – Get out of your own bubble


Welcoming words and a glimpse from YoungTalk23
Moderators Khin Phyu Cyn Kyi, Kartik Sharma and Ready for Talents Project Manager Sara Nyyssölä

Get Inspired: How to develop Ostrobothnia in order to attract and retain international talents?

Joakim Strand, Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering
Emilia Lidsle, Glocal talents, Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce
Mikko Pohjola, R&D Manager, Kempower

Success story of an international talent in a SME
Shariful Islam Chowdhary, VEO 


Co-creation Starts, A moment of interaction with the audience


Theme 1:
Young Talent’s/Entrepreneur’s Perspectives: The Future of Work: Enhancing Ostrobothnia’s business landscape with international expertise
Pitch Talk: Laila Fe Balinggan, Design and Disrupt
solution discussion at the tables


Theme 2:
SME’s perspectives: Success Stories in Hiring Foreign Employees
Pitch Talks: Jakob Wikström (Wikström Media)
Solution discussion at the tables, a moment of interaction with the audience




Theme 3:
Solutions to International talents recruitment to SME’s

a moment of interaction with the audience
Pitch Talk: Maija Aarnio, Rannikko-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät
solution discussion at the tables


Solutions on the table – how to proceed
moderators Khin Phyu Cyn Kyi and Kartik Sharma

Wednesday 7.8.


Breakfast, Wasa Innovation Center: Mindsquare


THEME 1: Circular economy business models
Opening words: Hanna Malkamäki


Finance and Legislation
What everyone should know about the opportunities provided by the sustainability transition to create new circular economy business models. What financing opportunities does it offer, and what requirements does the legislation impose.


From coffee grounds to coffee mugs
A substantial amount of coffee grounds is discarded every day, despite their valuable properties, while the use of disposable cups is increasing at an alarming rate each year. Grounded has developed a one-day coffee cup that utilizes coffee ground waste as the main material.
Tinus Byrgesen, Grounded, Denmark (Teams)


The Future of Corporate Textile Care
Clewor combines expert services, a digitized service model, logistics solutions, and industrial laundry services into a certified service solution for corporate textiles. 
Annastina Liedes, Clewor


Closing remarks
Hanna, Fredrik and Pia


THEME 2: BotH2nia Hydrogen Valley


The Future of Finland’s Hydrogen Market
Gasgrid promotes a future carbon-neutral energy and raw material system: Key areas of operation include the transfer platform and gas market, developed with a customer-centric approach. 
Heli Virkki, Gasgrid


BotH2nia Hydrogen Valley in a Nutshell
BotH2nia Hydrogen Valley spans 4 regions and 8 value chains. Its total investment value is EUR 3.6 billion, and when realized, it will bring together over 90 innovative actors.
Sari Kola, Merinova 


Panel Discussion
What does BotH2nia Hydrogen Valley mean from the perspective of different stakeholders: Who benefits and how?
moderator, Sari Kola, Merinova
Herkko Plit, P2X 
Matti Malkamäki, Hycamite
Tomas Häyry, City of Vaasa
Olli-Pekka Aalto, Danfoss 


Lunch, Bock’s Corner Brewery


THEME 3: Development of Finland’s Power Market


The Future of Finland’s Energy System
Modeling Results: Future Outlook of Finland’s Energy System and the Need for Flexible and Reliable Capacity. 
Kenneth Engbom, Wärtsilä


Perspectives on Power Market
Results of an Interview Study Conducted in May-June as a Basis for Discussion.
Sari Kola, Merinova


Panel Discussion
What does the development of the power market require from energy companies? What is Fingrid’s role? What actions is the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment taking? 
moderator Sari Kola, Merinova
Kenneth Engblom, Wärtsilä
Hannu Linna, Fingrid
Stefan Damlin, Vaasan Sähkö
Kirsi Hautala, Kokkolan Energia


Coffee break, Wasa Innovation Center: Mindsquare


THEME 4: GigaVaasa Talk 2024
moderator Marko Kuokkanen
Our roundtable discussions will cover three exciting themes:
– Preparing for investment in the GigaVaasa area: Where do we stand?
– Making mega-investments a reality: Strategies for success
– The role of public authorities in fostering investment: How can they help?
Participant list includes for example following speakers:

Freyr Battery Finland, Tor Stendahl, Managing Director & Country Manager
Epsilon Advanced Materials Vikram Handa, Managing Director
Shanshan New Material, Yuan Ruwei, Deputy Director, Supply Chain
GigaVaasaTeam, Tomas Häyry, Vaasan kaupunginjohtaja
Member of Parliament, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri
Business Finland, Markku Kivistö, Head of Industry, Cleantech, Invest in
European Investment Bank, Jaani Pietikäinen, Head of EIB Group Office for Finland


Kurikan Grand Canyon
future development


Photonics + DIMECC

Thursday 8.8.


Breakfast, Wasa Innovation Center: Mindsquare


Artificial Intelligence for Business 
moderator Stefan Lindström
Tero Ojanperä, Silo.AI
Atte Jääskeläinen, SITRA
Antti Vasara, CEO, VTT
politicians, etc.


Productivity improvement  
Ville Vertanen, chief director of Statistics Finland
Wille Rydman, Minister of Economic Affairs
Hannu Krook, CEO, S Group
Timo Korkeamäki, Principal, Aalto University


WIC Innovation Award, Entrepreneurial Grant by Christoffer Häggblom
Venue: Mindsquare


Lunch, Bock’s Corner Brewery


Kvarken and Modern Export Industry Policy


Growth and Security in the Nordic Region
moderator Sarah Väre
The event language is English, questions can be asked in Nordic languages and English. 
Coffee and mingle 

Sarah Väre, Growth Manager, Kvarken Council EGTC

Åsa Ågren Wikström, Member of Västerbotten County Council and Deputy Chair of the Board of Kvarken Council EGTC
Anna-Kaisa Pusa, Mayor of Kurikka and Deputy Chair of the Board of Kvarken Council EGTC 

A Northern perspective – challenges and opportunities for collaboration in the North 
Wegger Christian Strømmen, Norwegian Ambassador to Finland 

Finland needs an inspiring vision for its future: a Nordic approach 
Martin Paasi, Chairman of the Board at Suomen Ekonomit, Financial Expert at Nordnet, and founder of the consulting company Recubator 

Nordic and Arctic Security – convergent connectivities? 
Niklas Eklund, Docent, Department of Political Science, Umeå University, and Deputy Director of Arctic Centre (Arcum) 

Plan B for the Nordics
Risto E.J. Penttilä, CEO, Nordic West Office 

Nordic Connector – how to finance a fixed link over Kvarken 
Kim Wikström, Professor, Laboratory of Industrial Management, Åbo Akademi  

Panel discussion
What challenges and opportunities does the new geopolitical situation create in the Nordics and the Arctic region? How about our NATO membership? What does politics and the business sector need to act on now?

Wegger Christian Strømmen, Risto E.J. Penttilä, Martin Paasi, Niklas Eklund, Kim Wikström 

Reflections and conclusion 
Tua Takasu, Project Manager, Finnish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce 

The latest version of the program can be found here:


Nordic Defence Industry (invitation only)
Speakers include Commander Janne Jaakkola, Finnish
Defence Forces, SAAB, Patria, EK, PM, DI Försvar & Sikkerhed, etc.
(a separate press conference TBA)


Dinner, Bock’s Corner Brewery, pre-booking required

Friday 9.8


Breakfast, Wasa Innovation Center: Mindsquare


Nordic Connector (invitation only)
Nordic logistics – energy – industry – softpower – security integration: New Nordic world.
Representatives from all sectors from Nordic countries


Leadership in Healthcare, “Early-Stage Diagnostics and Treatment”: Data and AI
moderator: Suvi Einola, director, INNOHUB
Lasse Lehtonen, ”Finland’s top expert”, HUS
Enni Sandmark, University of Helsinki
Anne Salovaara-Kero, chairman of the board, wellbeing services county of Ostrobothnia

Case studies:
Analysis of exhaled breath
Caring code to prevent youth exclusion


Regional Leadership in Natural Sciences: New Learning Environments
Minister of Education, Anders Adlercreutz
Jan Holmgård, Sursik School: Natural sciences on a boat
Miikka Mattila, Kuulampi School: Increasing interest and genuine skills in mathematics with videos and mobile phones.


Lunch, Bock’s Corner Brewery


Culture 3.0: Kvarken EGTC, Leader in Europe
Sanna Bondas and Suvi Aho, City of Vaasa
KIC program’s pioneering role for the region
prof. Pier Luigi Sacco
Rosa Meriläinen, Secretary General, KULTSA ry

Local case studies: New sports culture, new work culture, new entrepreneurial culture


Artificial Intelligence in visual art
Jukka Hautamäki

“Neural god beings in their sugar formations. Artificial Intelligence in visual art.”
The lecture is part of the Vauhdittamo project of the Finnish Cultural Foundation.


Culture 3.0
moderators: Sanna Bondas and Suvi Aho, City of Vaasa
Cross-over culture, Krista Petäjäjärvi
Kaisa Rönkö, Director of the Arts Promotion Centre (TAIKE)
Suptopia, Martin Q Larsson

Contact information

Wasa Innovation Center
Gerbyntie 18
65230 VAASA

Sture Udd

+358 40 900 4141