About the project

The Twin campus project is implemented as part of the South-East Finland-Russia Cross-Border Cooperation program. Its main goal is to build an effective model of collaboration between universities and businesses, as well as improve the opportunities for cross-border cooperation of the two regions and create the environment for the development of new hi-tech enterprises. The project implies the creation of experimental laboratories, both in Finland and St. Petersburg, where international student teams can solve real-world tasks provided by companies. Apart from that, the project will focus on the best practices of university-business interaction, which will result in the creation of a roadmap outlining the strategic initiatives to achieve this goal.

Among the project’s partners are research and educational organizations and business support systems in the cross-border region, including the Cursor Oy company, the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, St. Petersburg Technopark, and St. Petersburg Foundation for SME Development. The project is coordinated by ITMO University Technopark, headed by Alexander Kolousov.

Signing the agreement between the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and ITMO University
Signing the agreement between the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and ITMO University

The project was launched on June 1, 2019, while on June 25, ITMO University hosted the first working meeting. During the meeting, the partners adjusted the project’s goals, identified the responsibilities of each party, outlined the expected results and exchanged new ideas regarding the project implementation. For example, partners from the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences shared their ideas about the project and its results. The educational program at the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences is built in such a way that allows students to work on real-world tasks already in their first years of studies. The university has partner relationships with over 350 educational organizations all over the world, while its experts, mentors and specialists are involved in the research of the world’s best practices of universities collaboration.

Participation in the project gives students certain benefits, such as an opportunity to work on real-world tasks, acquire professional experience and develop a practice-oriented approach to problem-solving. In the world of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), graduates have to be flexible and ready to adapt to ever-changing demands. Participation in such an international project allows students to acquire communication, teamwork and soft skills, which will definitely come in handy in their future career. The project also offers benefits for companies. Representatives of businesses and the industry can thus recruit talented students with all the necessary professional competencies and personal characteristics, able to solve the existing business tasks and develop new products.

Both the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and ITMO University are now busy with developing the concept of new campuses. ITMO Highpark Innovation Center will be responsible for the commercialization of research and innovation achievements, as well as the support of existing and creation of new hi-tech enterprises for the development of digital economy in Russia.

The South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences will, in turn, construct a new experimental laboratory in Kotka (Finland). Kotka Old Port MDC, Kotka City Council and the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences have recently announced the construction of a new exhibition and sports center, as well as a university campus on the territory of the Kotka Old Port project. It’s expected that the construction will complete in 2020 and attract over 3,000 students, lecturers and other employees to Kotka Old Port.

Initially, the concept of the Twin Campus project was based on the idea of ​​establishing interaction between university campuses in order to develop innovative projects and hi-tech businesses. However, the construction of new campuses takes time, so for now, the coordinators of the project decided to build several experimental laboratories (X-labs) located at the Cursor Oy company in Kotka and ITMO University Technopark in St. Petersburg. The main goal of these laboratories is to create an open environment for collaboration between businesses and universities, where students can work on solving real problems in international interdisciplinary teams.


“The main idea with these experimental labs is to create a platform for knowledge and experience exchange between Russian and Finnish experts and student teams. This initiative is aimed at attracting students from Russia and Finland to working in international teams coached by mentors and representatives of the industry,” comments Svetlana Bazueva, Head of ITMO University’s Department of International Programs and Projects.

The project is designed for three years, until 2021. Each year involves the implementation of certain steps, such as studying the international experience in developing an innovation ecosystem in collaboration with universities; conducting a comparative analysis of the best practices in the field of green campuses and sustainable development (Green Campus and Sustainable Solutions); developing strategies and roadmaps; and attracting companies and enterprises to the project’s initiatives. The outcome of the project will be the presentation of possible models of interaction between universities and businesses, the creation of two experimental laboratories and the establishment of collaboration between them.

Tasks of ITMO University

Each university participating in the project will be assigned certain tasks. The main task at this stage is to explore the opportunities for further development of the project and attract students and companies.

The project’s leading partner, ITMO University is responsible for project management and will have to present the results of its work to the Management Committee of the South-East Finland-Russia Cross-Border Cooperation program. The university’s main task at this stage is to organize meetings and construct one of the experimental laboratories on the facilities of ITMO University Technopark. On June 25, Technopark’s Deputy Head Olesya Baranyuk presented the concept of an innovation and entrepreneurship block and the “single window” system for students and aspiring lecturers. The idea is to unite all university services and departments into a single ecosystem, which will include accelerator, pre-accelerator, Entrepreneurship Support Center, Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations, and Project Development Department. The above-mentioned experimental laboratory will also be part of the ecosystem and probably focus on 3D technologies and IT solutions. It can then be used as a platform for hackathons, lectures, festivals and startup competitions.

Twin Campus. Credit: social media
Twin Campus. Credit: social media

Future prospects

The results of the Twin Campus project will be used in pilot services the campuses will perform for companies and lead to the advancement of collaboration between universities and the industry, the application of practice-oriented approach to the solution of tasks by students, and the creation of hi-tech companies by talented students that are in high demand in the border cooperation region.

Irina Lvova, 

Accelerator Department