The Growth Corridor Finland (GCF) is a cooperation network and an innovation platform consisting of 20 municipalities and cities, three Regional Councils, four Chambers of Commerce and four Ministries: the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Education and Culture. As a geographical area GCF stretches from Helsinki to Tampere as a string of cities, but also the city of Seinäjoki (connected by railroad to the GCF) is represented in this collaboration network. It forms the forefront basis of national competitiveness; more than 50 % of Finland’s GDP is produced in this area. In addition, GCF is the biggest pool of workforce in Finland with more than 350 000 daily commuters. The role of Growth Corridor Finland network is to support different actors in the development of the transport corridor according to GCF vision, which includes becoming the leading experimental platform on intelligent traffic services and systems in Europe.
The backbone of the smart accessibility in GCF is the railway line running from the capital region in South, through the string of cities to Tampere, the most populous inland city in Nordics. Connected to this backbone, GCF set out to investigate the requirements and the role of Mobility-as-a-Service as a part of publicly financed transport, railway station areas as a part of modern lifestyles, the electrification of transport, connections to Europe (European collaboration projects such as Interreg BSR project NSB Core), and new ways of working.
With the main target to develop and support the smart accessibility in the region, a Growth Agreement between the Finnish Government and Growth Corridor Finland was signed. One of the instruments of this agreement is additional funding for innovative experiments and developing measures for period 2016-2018. These development measures are expected to generate true cooperation between the public and private sector, universities, and research institutes as an ecosystem. During the agreement period, over 40 companies have collaborated in the development activities, and these activities have resulted in over 20 pilots and events in the GCF.
The first of these pilots completed in 2017 were the testing of autonomous minibuses in Hämeenlinna and Espoo, developing a concept for delivering groceries for commuters in Seinäjoki, and testing the suitability of e-bikes as a first/last mile solution in Hämeenlinna. Together with the feedback from public events, these pilots further emphasised the role of railway station areas can have in supporting modern lifestyles in the region. In the theme of agile and sustainable mobility, remote check-in was also tested for one month in Hämeenlinna.
The year 2018 has witnessed three new pilots funded from the Innovative Regional Experiments funds. The themes of these new pilots are similar to the previous ones:
- Coreorient (http://coreorient.com/) to develop sustainable mobility services for the railway station areas and mobility hubs in GCF.
- Shareit Bloxcar (https://bloxcar.fi/company) is developing together with several partners new business models combining the best aspects of public transport and sharing economy.
- A partnership led by Sensible 4 (http://sensible4.fi/aigo) is piloting urban shared autonomous mobility in all weather conditions.