The supplier network ecosystem models the interconnections between different factors

There were plenty of summer job opportunities in various fields. I ended up working for a project at SAMK. The goal of the LaivaDigiLab project is to develop of pre-testing concept of digital systems for shipbuilding. Alongside the concrete tasks, I believe the journey until end-August will be interesting, and I will learn a lot of new things.

My name is Sami Alatörmä, a 24-year-old international trade student at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences. This summer, I am working at the Maritime Logistics Research Center in the LaivaDigiLab project, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and SAMK. I am involved in finalizing the project in the role of a project researcher, together with an experienced team.

The main task of my job is to create a visible and creative ecosystem model of the supplier network related to shipbuilding and digital systems. This helps the field of stakeholders to grasp the big picture and it will also enable equipment suppliers to see the connections between their operations and other factors.

The benefit of these models is to increase knowledge and understanding beyond one’s own work: a change in one system or supplier’s product can have implications beyond just the immediate surroundings. This visibility of system dependencies and, on the other hand, supplier relationships can aid in the maintenance phase of the ship’s life cycle, but it can also be a useful tool for pre-testing.

I will also help developing a mind-map for pre-testing in shipbuilding. The mind-map will house the different stages of shipbuilding and the associated best practices.

What is LaivaDigiLab?

To carry out the ecosystem modeling for suppliersd, I have familiarized myself with the LaivaDigiLab project. Its goal is to support the pre-testing process of digital systems in shipbuilding in Satakunta. The project started with analysing the current state of digital systems on ships. In response to the challenges of coordinating digital systems and proactively solving problems, the project is piloting the concept of pre-testing. It also aligns with the green transition and supports energy efficiency goals.

Based on my current understanding, potential risks to business can be prevented by developing pre-testing methods. The results of the project – when taken into practice – can save time and money.

The project does not create a physical testing laboratory but tries to create conditions and a concept that proactively addresses changing factors. The success of the project is important for Rauma and the maritime cluster in Satakunta. Drawing on my educational background, I feel that the project’s results could be presented abroad, which would enhance the reputation of the entire Finnish maritime industry. While the maritime industry and shipbuilding in Rauma may be small players globally, uniqueness and pioneering in many aspects are strengths on the global scale. The benefits of the pre-testing concept could serve as an example for other countries in the green transition.

Boosting my thesis with summer work

I have only been working since the beginning of May, getting to know the project, the project world, and SAMK’s way of working. The project world seems complex and challenging, but I trust that as the work progresses, the pieces will come together, and after the summer, I will have a better grasp of many things. My colleagues are experienced, and there is support available for learning. The work ethic is also high: we work hard but with a relaxed approach.

It is important for me to gain an understanding of the LaivaDigiLab project. However, the most important aspects that need to succeed are mapping and visualizing the supplier networks as a comprehensive entity as well as pre-testing concept. Hopefully, I will also gain inspiration for my thesis, which I am working on with the support of experts from SAMK’s Maritime Logistics Research Center. The summer is going to be busy but motivating and even significant for my career: I will get to see how projects are brought to completion and what kind of skills the current job market requires.

Text: Sami Alatörmä, a summer employee and a 3rd-year student at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences.

The article was written as part of ÄlyMeri project which was funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and SAMK.

New educational tools respond to the increase in demand for coastal and maritime tourism

The unique features of operating tourism businesses and developing tourism destinations in the European cold-water regions need specific expertise.

Tourism is and has been rapidly changing

SAMK’s Center for Tourism Business Development has been leading a joint European Erasmus+ project for the past three years to develop new educational tools in European coastal and maritime tourism.

This is highly relevant as Europe’s cold-water coastal and maritime regions have been the biggest winners in the post-Covid-19 era. Records were broken as the number of local and regional tourists grew due to the pandemic. Many travelers found hidden gems in their own region or in their own country, the existence of which was not previously known.

Tourism in these regions is based on their unique characteristics and resources. Micro and small tourism enterprises prevail and focus on creating blue experiences based on direct encounters with nature, cultural heritage, and special interest activities.  On the other hand, seasonality, limited infrastructure, and lack of local capital for investments hamper tourism competitiveness.

New European tools for higher tourism education

As tourism in this context requires specific skills, the Erasmus+ Skill4CMT project sought a solution for skills development in coastal and maritime tourism. The partners from Finland (Satakunta University of Applied Sciences), Estonia (University of Tartu, Pärnu College), Latvia (Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences), the Netherlands (HZ University of Applied Sciences), and Ireland (Dundalk institute of Technology) designed new occupational profiles by interviewing 90 different tourism stakeholders across European cold-water regions. Based on these results, a European level curriculum for coastal and maritime tourism was developed with open educational resources.

  • The first course in the curriculum introduces the basic features of coastal and maritime tourism, its resources, blue well-being, the sustainable development of coastal areas and the legislation affecting tourism activities.
  • In the second course, participants will learn more about sustainable coastal and maritime tourism, climate change and the development of sustainable business operations.
  • The third course examines the coastal destination design, and
  • the fourth course focuses on designing blue experiences.

The curriculum and other project outputs such as occupational profiles and self-study materials can be used by all organisations that want to develop their staff’s expertise on the subject. Educational institutions can use the outputs when revising their curricula or when upskilling entrepreneurs.

Great lessons – also for the lecturers!

In the end of the project, lecturers evaluated the project implementation and its impact on their organisations and their personal development. According to the lecturers, the most important impact was the skills development in online teaching and learning of the lecturers. The lecturers expressed that they learned a lot about digital pedagogy and teaching in general. In the project, they were able to test online pedagogy in a different way than they normally do in their own organisation. They got tools for online teaching and learning, a change to reflect their own teaching contents and methods and compare it with other lecturers and higher education. institutions. This in turn gave ideas about developing these in the own institution.  

Furthermore, the project improved the lecturers’ skills in developing an industry-driven curriculum, because the curriculum was developed based on industry interviews. These research activities enabled a deeper understanding of the skills gaps and needed skills as well as the common skills for the European cold-water destinations. It also increased learning about the similarities and differences in coastal and maritime tourism around European cold-water destinations. The industry-academia collaboration also encouraged the industry stakeholders to reflect on their skills and their development.  

Text: Sanna-Mari Renfors, Specialist Researcher, SAMK

Photo: Sanna-Mari Renfors and Skills4CMT project

Cyber security in maritime logistics

The increase of digitalisation and automation of operations channels emphasis into cybersecurity and preparedness for security threats. Cybersecurity generally refers to the protection of sensitive information (such as personal data), data components, networks, and systems from unauthorised parties. Precautions against cyber-attacks are well-acknowledged theme also in maritime logistics.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping, has taken a position on maritime cybersecurity. The IMO refers maritime cyber risk to ‘a measure of the extent to which a technology asset could be threatened by a potential circumstance or event, which may result in shipping-related operational, safety or security failures as a consequence of information or systems being corrupted, lost or compromised’ [1]. Cyber risk management aims to support and achieve secure operational resilience.

Cyber security and threat preparedness have gained resources. However, not every sector or application is equally attractive to attackers. The likelihood of being the target of a cyber-attack due to the attractiveness of data is not very high throughout the whole maritime logistics transport chain.

– It is true that the more data is shared, the higher the risk of an attack. But in the timber logistics chain in the region of Satakunta, other risks to logistics operations are more significant than, for example, the crash of a single application, says Janne Lahtinen, an expert in a SAMK-led ÄlyMeri project, which is developing a risk management model for timber logistics chain.

Damage can still be caused and, according to a news report by Yle, attempts have been made to hack the largest container warehouses during the pandemic. The worst known cyber-attack was on the Maersk shipping company, which had to rebuild its entire IT infrastructure: a 10-day delay in operations and remedial measures cost $300 million. [2]

The threat of a cyber-attack depends on the scale of the IT infrastructure

Marko Löytökorpi, a sea captain and lecturer in maritime studies, believes that cyber-attacks on individual ships are less likely than attacks on port and shore-based operations, for example, and the impact would not necessarily be as significant.

– Even if a cyber-attack were to hit a ship and bring its systems down, the ship is in a way such a ‘simple piece’ that an attack might only slow down processes, but not stop them completely, Löytökorpi states.

To take an example from BIMCO’s ”The Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships” on the IMO website, an unknown virus found its way into the Electronic Chart Display and Information System, i.e. ECDIS, causing delays for the company, as the ship was not designed for paperless navigation. The system was eventually recovered. [4]

More serious disruptions would occur on the ground operation, for example if port systems fail: ships cannot unload or load cargo, port processes would slow down causing delays and costs throughout the logistics chain. Reputational damage is also a significant factor.

Preparing for cyber threats is important for Finland

The consequences of cyber-attacks are limited only by the imagination, but in the worst-case scenario, they include loss of vessel and staff safety, and environmental damage. Hiding, deleting, or frozen position data can cause physical damage and so-called ‘ghost ships’, messing up schedules, and unnecessary waiting times. Today, and especially in Finland, cybersecurity preparedness is particularly relevant as around 90% of imports and 80% of exports are by sea [5].

Text: Aku Suomi, SAMK, student trainee and Hanna Kajander, SAMK, Project Manager

Photo: Pixabay

[1] Maritime cyber risk, IMO. Available:, retrieved on 2023-03-24.

[2] Tuomaala, Erja. (2021), Kyberhyökkäyksen uhka kasvaa merillä ja satamissa – kaikkia suurimpia konttivarustamoja on jo yritetty hakkeroida. Yle. Available in Finnish:, retrieved on 2023-03-24.

[3] “The Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships”, BIMCO, p. 23. Available:, retrieved 2023-03-28.

[4] “The Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships”, BIMCO, p. 14. Available:, retrieved 2023-03-28.

[5] “Merenkulun avainluvut”, Suomen Varustamot. Available in Finnish:, retrieved on 2023-03-24.

SAMK participated in the BUP Teachers’ Course to integrate UN SDGs into the International Tourism Management programme

Baltic University Programme (BUP) Teachers’ Course 2022–23 focused on integrating UN SDGs into Higher Education. The Teachers’ course was relevant for me as the International Tourism Management programme was undergoing a renewal process with the aim of integrating sustainability into the programme. I participated in the Teachers’ course along with two lecturers from the Environmental Engineering programme.

The course taught us participants hands-on ways to implement SDGs into teaching and study programmes. The UN SDGs are a set of 17 global goals adopted by the UN in 2015 to achieve a sustainable future. The goals address a range of social, economic, and environmental challenges.

The Teacher’s course of BUP incorporated the principles of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a pedagogical approach to promote sustainable practices.  ESD is an approach that seeks to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to promote sustainable practices. Education, particularly ESD, is recognized as a key driver for achieving the SDGs.

By incorporating ESD principles into tourism education at SAMK, we can create responsible and environmentally conscious tourism professionals who can address challenges facing the industry. Students are empowered to become active agents of sustainable tourism practices. They promote cultural diversity and preserve natural and cultural heritage for future generations. Incorporating sustainability into tourism higher education can lead to a more responsible and ethical industry.

Integrating ESD Principles in the International Tourism Management programme: Ideas & Strategies

  • Incorporate sustainability themes into curriculum and course content
  • Use participatory learning approaches
  • Foster critical thinking
  • Emphasize local to global perspectives
  • Incorporate experiential learning opportunities
  • Encourage ethical reflection

The Baltic University Programme (BUP) is a network of universities and other higher education institutions in the Baltic Sea region. Its aim is to promote cooperation in education, research, and sustainable development. SAMK is a member in this network.

Text: Jaana Ruoho, International Tourism Management

Image: The participants of BUP Teachers’ Course 2022–23 in Kaunas, Lithuania in March 2023. Participants and teachers came from several European countries. Image from BUP.

Digital Literacy Workshop at Lissu

”Let’s say, about 80% of these things are new to me. Thank you for teaching us these things.”

This was a comment from one participant in the workshop on digital literacy conducted by project researchers from Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) in Pori on February 21, 2023.

The event was part of the HyHy (Hyvinvointia Hybridisti) and TEKOS (Teknologialla osallisuutta – verkostolla vaikuttavuutta) -projects. HyHy project aims to promote digital interaction through co-creation, workshops, and training. TEKOS project on the other hand aims to improve social inclusion and participation through technology.

Project researchers from SAMK teaching about using email.
Project researchers from SAMK teaching about using email.
Photo: Lissu Social Club, kynnyksetön palvelupiste.

During the workshop, SAMK researchers worked with participants to develop their digital literacy skills. They learned how to better use email, getting familiar with google services and learning cyber security. The training was designed to help individuals develop the necessary skills to navigate the increasingly digital world, from online communication to remote service access.

The Lissu Social Club which is located in Pori center was an ideal location for the workshop as it is a community-based organization that provides a safe and welcoming environment for vulnerable individuals to gather and socialize. The workshop was well-received by participants who appreciated the opportunity to learn and improve their digital skills.

The participants and the staff from Lissu Social Club expressed their gratitude for the learning opportunity. They all agreed that this knowledge is practically necessary so that they, especially the clients from Lissu, can have equal opportunity in accessing social and health services.  

Overall, the SAMK digital literacy workshop at Lissu Social Club was a successful event that demonstrated the importance of digital literacy training in today’s world. The HyHy and TEKOS projects are exciting initiatives that will continue to support the community in developing essential digital skills and making sure that no one is left behind when it comes to digital development in our society.

For more info:

Hyvinvointia Hybridisti -hanke:

TEKOS -hanke:

For inquiries related to the event, contact:

Text: Project Researcher Ryann Deloso

Article photo (Ryann Deloso): SAMK’s project researchers with Tiina Mäkitalo (far right) HyHy’s project manager in SAMK.

Tourism student’s Erasmus+ exchange week in Belgium

As a student in University of Applied Sciences, students are given the opportunity to go abroad to study as an exchange student.

What was it like to do this kind of exchange?

Every year many students awaits impatiently about the information on the subject. This is a wonderful opportunity to go abroad, meet new people, gather different kind of knowledge, and get familiarized with different cultures.

But unfortunately, this is not the case for every student. Some students would like to have the same opportunities, but might have aspects in their lives, that does not make it possible. Some might have children, or they are not able to have a long period leave-of-absence from their workplaces, for example.

As we were starting our second-year studies last autumn, we were given the opportunity, to embark in this short-term Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Programme (BIP). The intensive week of the course would last only a week, but would happen at PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hasselt in Belgium. Funding granted from Erasmus+ Programme made the decision of taking a part in this project very easy. From the get-go, our whole group of classmates was willing and able to participate.

We were given a short introduction to the upcoming week in advance, and we then found out, that we would be doing and actual project for an actual commissioner. It was not revealed to us completely, but we had a little bit of information regarding the subject. The project would be taking place in an old castle and its surroundings.

Needless to say, we were excited!

Alternative ways to be an exchange student

When we were offered this kind of opportunity, we were thrilled to participate. We were excited to meet people from different cultures and experience studying in a different way. Even though most of us have travelled a lot, we were all equally excited to go! The week we spend in Hasselt was not an ordinary study week, instead we got to hear many interesting seminars, and the most important part was to work for a real-life case for a real commissioner. We got to create a business idea for an old castle in Maasmechelen, which was extremely interesting and definitely something different from our usual studies.

In addition to us from SAMK and the Belgium students from PXL, we were also accompanied by Croatian students for PAR University College. We all learned a lot from co-operating with different nationalities, and we had a really great time with everyone!

What did we learn?

By working with multiple other cultures, we had a lot of fun, but we also learned a lot from ourselves and about working all together. We also improved multiple skills, like working in a group, working with different personalities and people with different ways of doing schoolwork which can be challenging.

The good thing is we all remembered to have fun in the middle of the tight schedules and all, so our time management skills were on point. At some point it was difficult, as it is known that Finnish people are more punctual when others weren’t as much, we learned to be flexible, communicate and make compromises.

Overall, I think we can all agree that we learned a lot from this trip, whether it was through our successes or our mistakes. We gained valuable tools for the future and improved our skills we can benefit from in similar future projects!

Text: SAMK students Heli Kulju, Siiri Romoi and Johanna Ylioja

Images: PXL

Putting the learnt into practice through collaboration – Sales Pitch project with Rauma Chamber of Commerce

Collaboration with business should be embedded into business education. Studies aim to provide students with competencies needed for a successful career. As much as possible the learnt skills should be put into practice; both to strengthen them and to show that they can be useful in real life.

Sales Pitch is a project carried out in collaboration with Rauma Chamber of Commerce at SAMK Campus Rauma. The Chamber of Commerce grants an lnternationalization Award to a company or other active party in the region annually. 

The SAMK students work in small groups. They can be both degree and exchange students. This time they were a very international group of students coming from Belgium, France, Latvia, Vietnam and Australia, and  among them also one Finnish student.

In the project the students familiarize themselves with the finalists for the award both by searching information on them and also interviewing them. This way the students get an overview of who the finalists are and especially what kind of activities and operations make them potential candidates for the internationalization award.

The preparation stage for the students contains revising report writing and giving presentations. The  main focus, though, is on learning what pitching is, in what kind of situations it could and should be used. Understanding the general structure of pitching, and creating a sales pitch, are in the centre of practice. Learning about pitching is also appreciated by the students. One of the students comments that ”in my opinion public speaking is one of the most important skills in life”.

The students submit reports on the finalists to the judges of the Internationalization Award. The reports concentrate especially on how international the finalists are, what kind of international activities are part of their work. The students also look at the impact of the candidates on the region.

In their groups, the students design a pitch talk on the finalist they have familiarized themselves with. They rehearse the pitch and decide which member of their group will deliver it in the award event. The comment from a student shows the benefit of real life experience: “The fact that I had to do concrete work on an existing company was very interesting for me. I liked the fact that I had to present in front of the Chamber of Commerce and the company managers, although it was a little  stressful.”

The students, on top of getting an understanding of pitching and getting familiar with a local company, also build up their transversal skills. They learn about teamwork, scheduling and language skills, among other things. Last but not least, it is also essential to gain confidence and courage in a variety of skills and contexts. The core of it is stated by a student: “I am very proud of myself, for going outside my comfort zone for this project.”

Text: Marina Wikman, Lecturer

Picture: SAMK students with certificates for the completed Chamber of Commerce project (Marina Wikman).

From new acquaintance to old partners in a heartbeat

Back in April 2019, Judith and Ragna were waiting at a hotel reception in Tampere. By the time we arrived in Pori it was like we would have known each other for a long time already. And yet it was only some weeks earlier that we got the first enquiry from HZ from two teachers who wanted to visit us under the Erasmus+ teacher mobility programme. HZ? A University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Completely new to us, but of course we were happy to welcome a new partner.

During the visit we learned how very similar HZ and SAMK are when it comes to teaching philosophy, pedagogical methods, research interests, degree programmes, and even administratively, considering e.g., the size of the school or organizational form. Both schools represent higher education in rural areas focusing strongly on co-operation and development projects with the organizations in the area.

The plan was to pay back the visit, but then Covid19 forced us to find immediately new ways to co-operate. Tourism management students of HZ needed clients for their development project and since the owner of an adventure company suddenly had spare time in their hands, I interrupted their forest skiing trip and asked to co-operate with HZ students in spring 2020.

Mirthe Martinius and Jere Kuusinen

This autumn we finally had a chance to continue building even stronger relationship within tourism education. Mirthe visited SAMK and finally I had a chance to visit Vlissingen. In the meanwhile, our tourism student had done her exchange studies at HZ, and we also had incoming exchange students from HZ. But as I like to promote to our students especially partners, who I know well, I was so happy to finally visit HZ Café and shop myself, see student lounges and classrooms – and of course, students.

During my teacher exchange I joined Scrum-session with the second-year students and followed their presentations on cultural awareness. I gave lectures on seasonal employees, connection between salary and job satisfaction, and on Finnish culture based on Hofstede, Trompenaars and Lewis, as requested. And I must say I felt slightly intimidated to give a lecture on Dutch scholars – for the Dutch.

The highlight of my visit was when I saw genuine interest on students’ faces when I introduced SAMK as an exchange opportunity for them. One of my lectures was also joined by 14 prospective HZ students interested in tourism studies. They were hosted by study buddies, and they had lunch together during the day when they followed the regular schedule of tourism students. Hopefully prospective students of HZ will also be our prospective incoming exchange students!

Learning even better how same and yet different we as schools are, gave me lots of ideas. For example, in the Netherlands tourism studies follow the same profile in all schools, whereas in Finland, we have the flexibility to design our own curricula, even though tourism educators have a strong and active co-operation network. This provides a great opportunity for us to provide complementary studies for HZ tourism management students.

HZ main campus in Vlissingen

All great business stories start from a garage, and HZ has their very own Garage, where interdisciplinary teams of students make projects for organizations that have requested students to develop something for them. I also had a pleasure to visit the daily stand-up, which was scheduled exceptionally for the afternoon due to my visit. All in all, I could not have felt more welcomed with so many people being aware of my visit, having my own desk at the staff working area, being invited into daily conversations, and being accompanied by both tourism and sport management teams for a dinner.  

Since April 2019 when Judith and Ragna had the opportunity to stand on a (piece of) frozen sea, SAMK and HZ have also partnered in Skills4CMT-project together with some of our other national and international partners. I would like to encourage our colleagues in SAMK and HZ to look for co-operation opportunities in research and education, including student mobility, as I am sure there are many possibilities for us to discover how to #thinkfuture, and to ensure #itsyourfuture. 

Text: Heini Korvenkangas, Senior Lecturer

Article photo (top photo): Judith van Poppel and Ragna Brouwers visited the Yyteri beach in winter.

Export activities of Central Baltic area companies in Southern Africa and Middle East

SAMK has been active in Interreg Central Baltic projects supporting companies in developing business activities outside EU markets. The SME Aisle project team has worked on export activities in Southern African countries in the fields of trade, maritime and logistics, renewable energy, automation, and ICT. One of the SME Aisle project members, Tiina Mäkitalo, has also worked in an export project IHMEC that was targeting Saudi Arabian construction markets with indoor hygiene solutions that aim to break the chain of infection with built environment. The aim of this text is to compare these two markets as both projects have been funded by the Central Baltic program.

When looking at the similarities between the two markets first, the entry is quite the same since both markets bring identical challenges: contacts and networking, business culture, and market information. Similarities and differences are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Review of the main similarities and differences between the two markets

Both the construction and the health care sectors are highly regulated, and the challenge for the IHMEC case was that providing the “Nordic solution” wasn’t sufficient, but it had to be adapted to local context in Saudi Arabia. The product must be more tailored based on the needs of the market and customers. To seek approval for the solution for instance, the IHMEC project targeted lead users and opinion leaders.

The second similarity is the importance of building trustworthy relationships. It imperatively begins by going into the country, experiencing the culture, and meeting people. In both situations, networking is the key to a successful entry and implementation. It is so important that it is almost impossible to establish a position without at least face-to-face communication.

To highlight the differences between the two areas: Finnish companies are perceived a bit differently from a country to another. In Southern African markets, it is seen as reliable, humble, and innovative. Finnish companies listen well and adapt their products well to the target market. They are usually seen as technologically advanced and having high standards. However, they are also perceived as bad marketers struggling to show the value proposition of the product (mainly based on practical aspects only).

The Saudi Arabian point of view is that Finland is a reliable and non-corrupted country known for its good PISA results, having advanced health care and being the happiest country in the world. Companies are seen as reliable, but maybe not so flexible compared to Saudi business culture where all business is personal. In addition, Finns are seen as less adaptive in Saudi Arabia. Saudis expect reactivity in business meaning that they would like partners to be in contact also outside the “business hours”. They also share business material via WhatsApp, which is not usual, or even not allowed in Finland.

The final variance is the purchasing power. Southern African countries (except South Africa) have a low purchasing power leading to a preference for B2B and B2G. Yet, Saudi Arabia is a very rich country with possibilities to purchase the best technologies. They favour American solutions and utilise those as standards. For Finnish solutions, the challenge is to convince the demanding customer about the novelty, high quality, and why it is “better than the American ones”.

All in all, both of the markets have high potential for business. Long term commitment from companies is needed for success.

Text: Arthur Dessenius, Tiina Mäkitalo, Minna M. Keinänen-Toivola

Photo: Pixabay: TheDigitalArtist

Final events of the CBSmallPorts project in Riga, Latvia

The CBSmallPorts project, focused on developing small ports in the Central Baltic area, started just as the pandemic hit the world in 2020. COVID restrictions prevented face-to-face meetings from happening and therefore project partners from different countries were only able to meet in online meetings and workshops. Luckily, during the last few months of the project, the CBSmallPorts partners, including SAMK team, could have a few face-to-face workshops and participate in a few events and fairs. At last, the final conference and final partner meeting were held in in Riga, Latvia in August 2022 for the entire project partnership.

Travel to Riga, 24.08.2022

The SAMK team took an approximately one-hour flight from Helsinki to Riga in the afternoon on 24 August. When we arrived at the airport in Riga, we took taxis to our hotel Wellton Riverside Spa Hotel located in the city center. After a short rest we had a walk in the old town of Riga which was very close to the hotel.

View from the airplane in Helsinki, Finland.

The old town of Riga had a wonderful atmosphere with historical buildings. Most of us in the team were taking beautiful photos of the streets and buildings even though a few of us had already visited the place some years back. Our walk in the old town, which lasted for a few hours, ended with a great dinner. The it was time to head back to the hotel to rest and to prepare for the conference on the day after.

CBSmallPorts final conference, 25.08.2022

The venue for the final conference room was located on the top (8th) floor of the same hotel we stayed at. After having a good breakfast, we met our partners in the conference room at around 9:30 AM to have a coffee and start the conference at 10 AM.

It was very exciting to finally being able to meet the partners from Sweden, Latvia, and Estonia after having mostly online meetings for over two years. That reminded us how important it is to meet the coworkers or partners in person and how the work can proceed when meeting people face-to-face.

Final conference in Wellton Riverside SPA Hotel’s conference room in Riga, Latvia.

During the final conference, the presentations covered topics such as small port development, energy efficiency for boaters and small ports, and development of networks and cooperation. The small ports are part of the tourism industry – they are essential in providing services to boaters and other users. It was mentioned that one euro spent in the small port leads to four euros spent in other services. The CBSmallPorts project results were presented by SAMK’s Minna Keinänen-Toivola. Minna introduced one of the key results of the CBSmallPorts project, an online platform called Baltic Small Ports. In addition, as August 25 happened to be the annual Baltic Sea Day, it was a great opportunity to celebrate the Baltic Sea at the conference, as well.

Minna Keinänen-Toivola presenting CBSmallPorts project results.

The last partner meeting with a tour in small ports and old Riga, 26.08.2022

On Friday morning, SAMK team and project partners gathered in the meeting room for the last partner meeting of the project. It was time to sum up the results and have final discussions. Jussi Sutela from XAMK, one of the project partner organizations, attended the meeting online. At last, we took a group photo and ended the meeting with a wish to work with the same partners in future projects.

CBSmallPorts project partners’ group photo.

After the meeting, we took a bus to visit three small ports in Riga and to have a one-hour guided tour in the old town of Riga. We had the chance to hear the history and stories behind the old buildings. Riga and Latvia in general, have an interesting history and hearing them while visiting the place and taking photos, is a great experience.

Latvian small ports have had several investments made with EU-funding.
Guided sightseeing in the Old Town of Riga.

Finally, after a lunch in a restaurant with a beautiful view it was time to head to the airport and return to Finland. Overall, it was an amazing trip with the company of nice people, in a beautiful city with a wonderful atmosphere.

Text: Sina Khabbazi and Minna M. Keinänen-Toivola
Photos: Sina Khabbazi and Minna M. Keinänen-Toivola