CERS Vaasa has tight connections with Ostrobothnian companies
Assistant Professor Henrik Virtanen walks me around their premises in the neoclassic, beautifully decorated building which lies in the very center of Vaasa, a stone’s throw from the railway station. He introduces me to Associate Professor Annika Ravald and Assistant Professor Anu Norrgrann. CERS Vaasa is lead by Professor Peter Björk. These four researchers are the core of CERS in Vaasa, and practically share the teaching load at the Department of Marketing in Vaasa.
”In addition to us, we have some doctoral students, like Arafat Rahman here”, explains Henrik. Arafat greets us in his room. ”Our administration is organized together with Hanken, and we have for example a possibility to use Hanken Business Lab.”, Henrik continues. The Business Lab called Stuga, ”a hut”, is a platform and a meeting place for researchers, students and business practicioners interested in entrepreneurship. About 50% of courses in CERS are taught in English and the same amount in Swedish, so that also exchange students have a wide range of courses to choose from.
The Vaasa researchers have plenty of cooperation with local firms, both in teaching and in research projects. ”For example, at the moment I’m teaching a course ’Services desing in practice’ where students have to find solutions to tasks that companies have assigned them”, tells Henrik. ”We have not faced any difficulties in finding suitable business companions. The company representatives are interested in hearing researchers’ and students’ views.”
CERS has common projects also with other universities, CERS Helsinki of course, but also with for example Vaasa University with which they have organized joint seminars and courses. ”There are many opportunities to cooperation. Peter has now a course ’Trends in turism’ with Finnish university network for tourist studies, which suits well his area of expertise.
In a relatively small town like Vaasa is with its 67 000 habitants (2017), companies might find it even more important to stay on the edge of new insights and innovations, and that is something a university can offer them, in forms of the newest research, and opinions of young generation, students. On the other hand, the urge to be on top of business has always been seen as a trait of Ostrobothnia people, in Finland. The connections are close also to Sweden, due to a short waterway over the Gulf of Bothnia.