Cooperation between large and small companies – Case Stora Enso

Introduction 

As the owner of a growth company, are you wondering how to get involved with large companies in doing business? In many cases, the right channels can be so difficult to find that you don't want to get involved. Or contacts and resources may be deficient and thus cannot open the channel. It is probably not easy to start offering your expertise, for example, as a small engineering company for Metsä Group's investment project, because in principle the large companies have already taken up the plot for themselves. SMEs are often left behind in this area unless the connections to the factories are not in order or if there is no capacity and willingness to join forces with other smaller local actors.

Of course, new large investments and expansions are key to getting new projects and employing staff as an SME. It should be remembered, however, that large employers, i.e. large factories, also develop a lot of existing technologies. In general, they are also very enthusiastic and committed to developing their competitive advantage, for example by taking advantage of the different opportunities of digitalization. Today, the top management of large companies should be constantly awake when it comes to technological advances, run the core business and manage production in some way. At the same time, they should visit seminars, webinars, and network at fairs. It is also often difficult for SMEs to get involved in larger industrial enterprises. How to find the right contacts in production, maintenance, and RDI side. Where can you find the right people to showcase your skills, innovation, and yourself?

 

DigiProcess project and challenges of technical piloting

The Digiprocess project aims to support the digitalization and development of digital services and ecosystems for SMEs providing services to the industry. This is done by identifying the needs of the industry and the opportunities they offer and by consulting SMEs on their business development. The project is a three-year project (2019-2022) carried out by Lapland University of Applied Sciences, University of Oulu, Kemin Digipolis Oy, Nivala-Haapajärvi region NIHAK ry, Luleå Tekniska Universitet and Industriellt Utvecklings Centrum Norr AB.

The technical pilot phase of the project was supposed to serve as an opening channel for bringing large companies and SMEs together. In principle, the aim was to involve a large industry in presenting a concrete technical challenge to the SMEs already involved in the project, which would then have been tackled. We already got to a fairly advanced point with one company with the problems that were opened up and the competence list that had been drawn up, but completing and implementing such piloting was already such a cumbersome process in itself that it finally fell in agreement with the company's lack of resources. We then had to consider in the project what is how SMEs can more easily participate in the eventful lives of large companies and how to raise awareness of different operating models. There has to be a lighter approach that takes advantage of both, however.

We organized an information event on Stora Enso's way of managing digital innovations, which focused on previously participating SMEs in the project and beyond. With the help of the information session, we brought together SMEs and a large company, thereby helping pilot opportunities. Stora Enso's Head of Digital Innovation Kaisa Suutari gave a presentation lasting about an hour on how Stora Enso works with growth companies and how to get involved. At the same time, she gave examples of how Combient Foundry works and what the content of this is. The event was open and stimulated discussion.

Watch full 30min presentation in Finnish here

 

What is about when talking Combient Foundry

In the DigiProcess project, several large companies were interviewed in the forest, mining, and steel industry. Through the various phases, in addition to the Stora Enso we got acquainted with the program used by Kone, Autoliv, Scania, and Husqvarna e.g. The idea here is to be able to share best practices and support new technologies. It is therefore a kind of open innovation tool that always starts with the need for business or the challenge described. Shortly the chain of the process is described below.

  •  At first, the company will tell the challenge and publish it on its channels and www.combientfoundry.com on the website.
  • The problem comes with an X-number of interesting solutions from companies that are screened.
  • Value proposition for discussion selects the most suitable growth companies, where the needs and solutions are reviewed and the outlines are created for the scalable project.
  • Focus on action and not bureaucracy. Because of this approach, all parties save time and money.
  • All partnerships will be presented to a wider network that can lead to new projects.

 

Summary 

There are certainly several different opportunities to join larger industrial companies as a growth company in sharing know-how and working with them. The need for piloting and experimentation has always been in the great sense. This blog has presented an event organized within the framework of the project, which should serve as one example of how to raise awareness and open up potential channels among large companies. As a rule, however, everything starts with the business need. When need and know-how meet, it can create a lasting and long-term, confidential win-win relationship between companies.

 

Main contact and inquiries:

Mika Turska, Project Engineer, Lapland University of Applied Science, New Industry RDI, mika.turska@lapinamk.fi

Jani Sipola, DigiProcess Project Manager, Lapland University of Applied Science, +358 50 316 7677, jani.sipola@lapinamk.fi

 

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