About the project

The project ended on 31 July 2022. Many thanks to the participating companies, project partners and all other cooperation parties.

Project infograph, content explained in the text

Key facts 

The Urban Growth Vantaa project is co-creating and testing new innovative solutions as well as developing a local jobs and skills ecosystem with the aim of supporting both local SMEs and their employees in employment, upskilling and digitalization. 

Timeframe and funding Timeframe: 1/2019 – 7/2022.  Funded by Urban Innovative Actions (UIA).
UIA is an Initiative of the European Union promoting pilot projects 
in the field of sustainable urban development. 
City population 270 000 inhabitants 
Governing body The City of Vantaa  
Link https://uia-initiative.eu/en/uia-cities/vantaa  

Main objectives

The main objective of the project is: 

  • To co-create innovative solutions combining elements that support company growth and enable social investments, responding to the needs of Vantaa-based SMEs and their employees in the era of technological change.  

It works according to four overall goals for the co-creation ecosystem: 

  • That SMEs receive stimulus and support in sustainable growth, competence development and technological change.  
  • That SMEs start investing time in employees’ education and training 
  • That SMEs’ employees, especially those with low skill levels, learn new skills and earn new degrees  
  • That SMEs’ efforts in growth and social investments are supported by a one-stop-shop, a project account manager 

Content and mode of delivery 

The City of Vantaa is faced with a challenge of low-skilled workplaces and an under-educated workforce. This causes risks for the Vantaa-based SMEs’ competitiveness in this era of digitalization and automation. The complex problem has been addressed in Vantaa with the help from the Urban Innovative Actions initiative, which offers urban authorities with the possibility to take a risk and experiment with innovative and creative solutions.  

The city of Vantaa has involved in the co-creation education providers, businesses and research institutes, which can bring expertise and knowledge to solving the issues. The co-creation has taken place in three consecutive cycles addressing employment, competence development and digitalization issues. The co-created services combine elements supporting company growth and social investments. The main idea of all co-created training services is to bring training closer to working life and the other way around. The project has reached 70 SMEs and provided training or support to 714 adults.  

The co-creation ecosystem has provided help to both local SMEs and their employees. Due to SMEs’ resource constraints the competence development efforts need to be made easy. SMEs need an external partner, a one-stop-shop. The Urban Growth Vantaa project has launched the idea of a project account manager, who makes a long-term effort being in contact with the company representative. The local ecosystem can help companies and employees in their specific learning needs, whether they are vocational or academic. SMEs are beginning to understand the value of making social investments in their own personnel and learning in the long run.  

The Urban Growth Vantaa project has paid attention to the needs of lower-educated adults, who cannot in all cases be referred to as learning adults, but rather working adults. Their learning needs differ from those of so-called continuous learners, as they may need stronger guidance and support measures than adults actively seeking learning opportunities. Working adults should not be left alone with the demands of lifelong learning or learning new skills. An example of supporting lower-skilled employees in continuous learning is the co-created apprenticeship services program. Typically, apprenticeships are targeted at individuals as an opportunity to earn a vocational degree. Urban Growth Vantaa’s solution is to contact companies to introduce the training idea with its benefits to the SME decision makers and employees simultaneously. Both their needs are recognized and addressed. Another example of addressing company and individual needs concurrently is “Growth coaching”. Growth coaching provides training to employees based on the companies’ business development needs. 


Among others, the main stakeholders in the project are: 

  • City of Vantaa 
  • Metropolia University of Applied Sciences – higher education and research institute 
  • Laurea University of Applied Sciences – higher education and research institute 
  • Vantaa Vocational College, Varia 
  • Etla – The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy – higher education and research institute 
  • The Labour Institute for Economic Research LABORE – higher education and research institute 
  • Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce – business network 
  • ISS Services Ltd – private company 
  • Infocare Ltd. – private company 
  • Solteq Plc.  – private company 
  • Finnair Cargo Ltd.  – private company 
  • Vantti Ltd. – public company