Finnish experience in co-operative partnerships in small forest-based local heating energy businesses – outcomes from the MADIE project

LUKE1LUKE2

The MADIE project published a booklet which highlights the economics and organizational aspects of small local heating energy supply schemes set up in rural regions as a market-driven business by their owners for earning them a profit and, apart from private self-interests, for promoting the social claims of their stakeholders.

The booklet tells about the Finnish experience in co-operative partnerships, especially in small forest-based local heating energy businesses. Start-up entrepreneurs and their partners need inspiration and guidance in how to establish and operate their business successfully. Besides technical and market information, for starting and organizing a business, multifaceted upfront information is needed. Here, decisions as to the legal form, ownership, liabilities, participation rights and selecting the right partners, are crucial for the continuity of the business. There is a need for arguments that help persuade stakeholders about the legitimacy of the business and related social benefits.

The booklet addresses, among others, forest owners, rural entrepreneurs and their public stakeholders. Policy makers have been attracted by a business model that meets the triple bottom line: by offering an attractive return to investment, providing support to renewable energy transition, and creating jobs and income in rural economies. Co-operatives have been able to demonstrate to be a convenient participatory model of organizing joint business activities.

The booklet, with its focus on renewable energy co-operatives, contributes to the outcomes of the MADIE-project, an initiative supported by the European Union’s Erasmus programme, which offers a comprehensive range of views on multifunctional agriculture as a driver for innovation in rural Europe.

MADIE is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and coordinated by the German Starkmacher e.V. with partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE, Finland), County Governor of Hordaland (Norway), NAK Nonprofit Kft. (Hungary) and Terre di loppiano srl (Italy).

The booklet “Co-operatives and forest-based heating entrepreneurship in a rural setting – the Finnish experience” can be found from here or from the library at https://www.ruralacademy.org/contents

The booklet is available in English and also in Finnish (as summary report from the English version).

Information gained during the MADIE project are beneficial also for the GREBE project and are supporting the activity towards a guideline supporting enterprises in introducing new to market energy solutions.

MADIE Project training in Finland

DSC00783

MADIE project organized a joint training event teaching how to become successful consultants for cooperative structures and how to establish new cooperative businesses and cooperation based on lessons learned from selected cases in Europe

The training course was held in Joensuu (Finland), hosted by GREBE partner Luke during mid-June. The aim of the training course was to teach motivated consultants, students, entrepreneurs, cooperative representatives, SME´s and other interested stakeholders how to become successful consultants for cooperative structures. In addition, participants learned new cooperative businesses and cooperation based on lessons learned from selected cases. Various aspects of cooperatives, soft skills and business knowledge were covered during the training such as social skills, management skills, business models, communication skills, Finnish case examples and other essential skills.

In addition, excursions to a well-functioning energy cooperative and a small-scale CHP unit were part of the programme. The first excursion point was the Eno energy cooperative where the participants learned from the experiences of a successful cooperative model in the field of forest energy. The second visit was at the Sirkkala Energy Park where GREBE partner Karelia UAS presented the technology and opportunities of small-scale CHP units based on wood chips. Presentations and lectures given by cooperative and university representatives highlighted the importance of cooperative business models and cooperatives in Finland.

IMG_9430

MADIE – Multifunctional Agriculture as a Driver for Innovation in rural Europe

MADIE is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and coordinated by the German  Starkmacher e.V. with partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke, Finland), County Governor of Hordaland (Norway), NAK Nonprofit Kft. (Hungary) and Terre di loppiano srl (Italy).

Different models of cooperation, such as cooperatives or associations of local players, have been established in recent years in different regions of the partner countries. They created jobs in agriculture or forestry often in conjunction with new marketing, tourism, nature conservation and nature education projects.

The knowledge on cooperative business models gained during the training week can be applied within the GREBE project and GREBE partner Luke will take relevant models into account within the working package 7 implementation on “Knowledge transfer and business delivery”.