Archipelago Business Development (ABD) is a project financed by the Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020. The project, spanning over years 2016-2019, aims at supporting business development and creating new business models among small businesses and entrepreneurs in the archipelago regions of Southwest Finland, Åland Islands and Stockholm. Four key partner organizations, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Åbo Akademi University, Södertörn University and Drivhuset Sweden, have offered a wide array of activities for archipelago-based entrepreneurs to support business development throughout the project period. Focus has been primarily on supporting the development of new or altered business models, on identifying new business opportunities and on encouraging knowledge exchange and personal knowledge development and growth among the participating entrepreneurs.
At the beginning of the project, a so-called Challenge Inventory among 60 small businesses was conducted, aiming at identifying key challenges affecting further business development in the archipelago area. The results from the challenge inventory strengthened the presumption stated already in the project application, that many businesses in the archipelago area are very small and have low profitability, and therefore find it challenging to develop and expand their operations. A closer collaboration between entrepreneurs, between islands or destinations and between different industries could offer new opportunities for business development. Therefore, encouraging and supporting increased cooperation and coopetition between different actors on different levels has been at the very core of all activities offered by the ABD project over the project period. The focal point of these partnership program activities has been encouraging cross-border partnerships between actors in different industries, destinations, regions and countries. This report offers an overview of the ABD partnership program activities as well as a few examples of new partnerships that this has resulted in.
Johanna Lindström, Åbo Akademi, June 2019