Built and natural environment

Districts as Innovation Platforms

An innovation platform refers to an operating environment in which development has been systematically opened up to external developers, for whom participation in the process also generates value and networking opportunities. In Smart Kalasatama, district innovation lab, the aim of the platform is to drive innovation, develop smart city solutions and test them in a real life environment: a growing city district. Many different physical buildings and infrastructure function as innovation platforms and serve the solution providers and developers.

Kalasatama has been developed as a district for experimentation since 2013. The aim has been to enable innovation and testing of new solutions in a real-life environment and to support cooperation models between different actors. There have been development projects driven both by the city and other stakeholders such as companies and energy infrastructure providers in Kalasatama. Smart city solutions have been developed in a needs-oriented, resident-oriented and active way with small and medium-sized enterprises. 

There are already over 7,000 residents in the area, and services and infrastructure are being rapidly developed to make their everyday lives easier. The residential district with a smart energy grid and the Kalasatama Health and Well-Being Centre, among others, have been central innovation platforms. Several large-scale construction projects have been carried out in Kalasatama, such as the Urban Environment Division Building, Kesko’s head office, the Kalasatama tower blocks (SRV’s central construction project), and ongoing construction of the tramway from Kalasatama to Pasila. Many of these companies have also been key partners of Smart Kalasatama over the years. 

The Smart Kalasatama project has also played a role in creating a framework for innovation platform operations, an atmosphere of trust  and clear ways of working with business cooperation. Close cooperation with the city has made it easier to experiment with solutions: it is possible to obtain different permits for experimentation even on a fast schedule and there are resources available.

What makes Kalasatama an attractive site and unique innovation platform is that the city leads the development work and that the innovations are brought to a residential area of the city, rather than on a separate campus.

The district built in Kalasatama has provided the opportunity to anchor development activities in buildings, the city’s infrastructure, the data they produce and the services offered – or tailored to – the area.

Photo credit: Vesa Laitinen / Forum Virium Helsinki


REDI centre in Smart Kalasatama

SRV, the construction company building the Kalasatama tower blocks, has been a key developer of smart housing services in the area. Through co-development, SRV has invited future residents of Kalasatama tower blocks to participate already during the construction phase in the planning of shared spaces through workshops, interviews and surveys. As a result of co-development, multipurpose communal spaces for residents, two sauna sections and a large terrace with views has been developed. Moreover, the residents are offered a gym, washing point, laundry and workshop.

As an example of agile experimentation, a pilot carried out in autumn 2020, introduced a robot courier delivering meals on demand from the local supermarket to the residents. The pilot was coordinated by company Forum Virium with its partners SRV and KONE and Dimalog in charge of the mobile robotic pilot. The Omron robot courier was moving autonomously using the KONE smart elevators to the apartment doors. Customers placed their orders via the building’s own service app, whereupon the delivery robot took the orders from the shop directly to the customers’ doors.

Furthermore, Smart Kalasatama Urban Lab in the Redi centre has provided a common space for both the developers of the district and residents to meet. The space has also provided possibilities for independent gatherings of the residents, such as enabling housing companies settings or group builders.

Watch the ASUMI robot travel from the store through REDI shopping centre all the way to the customer.