The purpose of this article is to describe LAB`s international collaboration with the Dutch Q-helix clusters (Region of South Netherlands and The Cluster Sports & Technology) as an initiator in the use of innovation and smart solutions for economical and societal impact on active healthy lifestyle, and the network of EU regions and sports clusters working together on this supported by the European Platform for Sports and Innovation (EPSI) in the sport & vitality sector.

Kirjoittaja: Ilkka Väänänen

According to a World Health Organization`s (2021) recent physical activity country factsheets, Finland is a European leader in promoting an active lifestyle. The researchers from different fields and physical activity stakeholders have been represented, but there is less evidence of promoting the internationalizing Finnish sport business. Although, Finland has the second highest share of people working in sport sector in Europe (Eurostat 2021). In Päijät-Häme (The Regional Council of Päijät-Häme 2021) sport has been identified as one driver for economic growth, and it is one of their spearheads of their smart specialization strategies. LAB University of Applied Sciences has incorporated smart solutions into their strategic RDI profiling being a notable part of regional development, respectively.

Figure 1. The logo of the European Platform for Sports and Innovation (EPSI) (EPSI 2022)

EPSI`s vision is to lead sport innovation for greater societal and economic impact. Its mission is to strive for innovation-friendly conditions for the EU sports ecosystem and its neighbouring sectors and articulate and co-ordinate programmes of RDI. In addition, it helps its members to develop technological and other forms of innovation, combining top-down and bottom-up approaches, secure the required financial support, and create and scale up sport businesses across the entire innovation spectrum.

In this article we present the EPSI`s 2021-2027 Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda, and three service pillars (Lobbying & Education, Fundraising, Business Creation) as the tools to contribute the general growth of the European economy from the sight of Finnish UASs. In addition, we reflect the added value of the EPSI membership to the LAB and Päijät-Häme.

Activities and services offered and provided to Sport sector

To establish services that support international trade, investment and partnering opportunities for European SMEs to facilitate the signature of cooperation agreements between European entities and entities in third countries the Lahti sports ecosystem offers the Sport Business Gateway from EU to China, and the services and facilities of the Sport Engineering Research Center Finland, and two Finnish Olympic Training Centers (Pajulahti & Vierumäki) to boost the internationalization by facilitating access and a new strategic positioning in global value chains, and by building a recognizable brand to attract talents and investments worldwide. In addition, the tailored identity shaping and joint promotional activities such as the development of a joint communication/marketing and branding strategy to promote business cooperation as well as attract talents and investments worldwide can be prepared. The coordination of the regional cooperation between stakeholders related in the RIS3 priority of Sports has been given by the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme to LAB University of Applied Sciences with the close collaboration of the Lahti Region Development LADEC Ltd and all regional municipalities.

Added value

LAB brings the add value to this collaboration by taking into account the previous practice-based development activities in both macro and micro level with different organizations, and networks & contacts. In addition, the multidisciplinary expertise of its staff has a great added value to the cross-sectorial Sport ecosystem. Sports is one of the Smart Specialisation RIS3 priorities in Lahti region (The Regional Council of Päijät-Häme, 2021). The Vision of the Sports, Experiences and Well-Being 2030 in Lahti region is to be an attractive and internationally interesting competence hub and innovator of exercise, experiences, and well-being (Väänänen, Kiiskinen & Peltonen, 2021). This smart specialization specifically develops industries. It focuses on coaching, professional sports, sporting events and the activities and technology that support them. Sport includes also participatory events with their experiences and other creative activities around this business. In addition, it is an attitude at tourism or well-being through Sport, for example. The development of sports-related tourism is at the heart of this priority, as well as the major events and the provision of testing environments across national borders. To it, a quadruple helix collaboration is necessary to bring together public authorities, academia, industry, NGOs, and citizens.

Stakeholders in Päijät-Häme are business, civic society, educational and development organizations and public sector.

Figure 2. The stakeholders of the Sports, Experience and Well-being Roadmap 2030 (Väänänen, Kiiskinen & Peltonen 2021)


EPSI. 2022. About Epsi. Cited 4 February 2022. Available at

Eurostat. 2021. Employment in sport. Cited 4 February 2022. Available at

The Regional Council of Päijät-Häme. 2021. Päijät-Häme regional strategy 2022–2025. A255. Cited 4 February 2022. Available at

Väänänen, I., Kiiskinen. K., Peltonen, K. 2021. The framework of the Päijät-Häme Sport, Experiences, and Well-being Road Map 2030. Regional Studies, Regional Science Vol. 8 (1), 420-424. Cited 4 February 2022. Available at

World Health Organization. 2021. Finland physical activity factsheet 2021. Cited 4 February 2022. Available at


Senior researcher Ilkka Väänänen is another of the co-chairs of the Well-being from Environment, Physical Activity and Tourism (HELMI) growth platform at LAB University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: LABTKI

Published 7.2.2022

Reference to this article

Väänänen, I. 2022. Sport innovations for societal and economic impact. LAB Pro. Cited and date of citation. Available at