Project introduction ---

Helsinki Innovation Districts: smart city development expanding to Malmi, Pasila, Malminkartano-Kannelmäki and Mellunkylä

Artikkelikuva: Project introduction

Ever since their construction, Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama districts in Helsinki have been developed with smart technical solutions while supporting carbon neutrality. Now the best solutions are also being exported to other communities in the capital. The aim of the Helsinki Innovation Districts project is to bring new services for residents’ everyday life and make it easier, while giving rise to new business.

The Helsinki Innovation Districts project is based on the development carried out in recent years in the new smart city districts of Kalasatama and Jätkäsaari. Helsinki’s innovation company Forum Virium has implemented various smart energy, mobility and everyday services in these two districts, and built up Kalasatama, in particular, into an internationally renowned innovation platform. In this context, an innovation platform means the practice of trying out new technologies, methods and services in real-life environments.

Now the tried and tested methods used in the building of these innovative smart city districts are to be implemented also in older parts of Helsinki. In practice, this means the launch of a number of development projects in Malmi, Pasila, Mellunkylä and Malminkartano-Kannelmäki, which residents will also be invited to participate in. These projects will involve the testing and implementation of new digital solutions, the aim of which is to make the lives of the residents of Helsinki and the planning of services more diverse and efficient, while promoting carbon-neutral living.

The project is being carried out in cooperation with not only city residents, but companies, various City units focusing on urban development, and research institutions as well. The aim is to increase the City’s, companies’ and residents’ understanding of new technologies, such as smart & clean solutions that facilitate carbon neutrality, that have notable scaling and business potential, especially in older city districts. The pilot and development operations are coordinated by Forum Virium, and the aim is to implement the best solutions in multiple areas.


The project has three main objectives:

1. Expand area-based innovation activities to four new areas, promote existing innovation areas and ensure the transfer and expansion of both operating methods and solutions between the areas. Innovation activities carried out in multiple different areas promote Helsinki’s image as an internationally notable smart city location that is interesting to investors and disseminate the lessons learned in the Smart Kalasatama project to be more widely utilised across the city.

2. Promote the development of solutions in four areas, in relation to themes relevant to each area. The districts selected to participate in the project are Malmi, Pasila, Malminkartano-Kannelmäki and Mellunkylä, and the themes to be promoted are as follows:

  • Malmi: Smart lighting, street space analytics and resident experience.
  • Pasila: 5G technology and city information model, logistics during construction and guidance.
  • Malminkartano-Kannelmäki: The sharing economy of facilities, lighting, food and green infrastructure.
  • Mellunkylä: Wood construction, cost-effective carbon neutrality, smart housing solutions and cooperation with housing companies.

3. The third objective is to ensure the preconditions for further development of the interesting, area-specific solutions identified in the theme projects that are not yet ready for the market. The project coordinates the innovation roadmap for districts of Helsinki, which facilitates the identification of and application for separate EU-funded projects that support the City’s divisions.

Malminkartanon mäki Fiksu kaupunki 20140525_1259_L1011850_4129
The Malminkartano hill is the highest point in Helsinki, reaching 91 metres above sea level.

Duration, partners and funding

  • The project will run from November 2020 to December 2023.
  • The total budget is €2,038,294, of which Forum Virium Helsinki’s share is €1,348,094.
  • The project is funded by the City of Helsinki Innovation Fund.
  • The parties responsible for the realisation of the project are:
    • Forum Virium Helsinki
    • The Helsinki City Executive Office: Area Construction and Housing units
    • The City of Helsinki Economic Development Division: innovations and new pilots
    • The City of Helsinki Culture and Leisure Division.

The role of Forum Virium Helsinki

The project is being carried out collaboratively by Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Helsinki Economic Development Division and the City Executive Office’s Area Construction unit, which are together responsible for the coordination of the project, the preparation and promotion of the project roadmap and cooperation between areas. The realisation of the area-specific theme projects is primarily the responsibility of Forum Virium Helsinki, the City Executive Office’s Area Construction unit and local cooperation partners.

Benefits for Helsinki

The project creates the preconditions for the realisation of smart city solutions, particularly in older city districts. These areas have a great need for new innovative solutions and significant potential in regard to climate impact and the scaling of impacts. Companies that utilise co-development to produce smart & clean solutions will help in recognising the business potential related to the development of old areas. At the same time, City of Helsinki’s understanding of what is available on the market and development trends in relation to area construction projects is increased. The project supports the creation of preconditions for innovative solutions from as early as the land use planning stage. The project will also increase the know-how of the personnel of the City of Helsinki’s divisions in terms of innovation activities and the utilisation of solutions, thus contributing to the development of the City’s skills base.

The project facilitates economic development in the participating areas while also promoting social sustainability and an equal Helsinki, increasing the pleasantness, safety and vitality of areas and preventing inequality and segregation between the areas.

Check the project’s website

Photo: The City of Helsinki