Way to the top


An alumna recalls

Sakariina Heikkanen, Research, Development and Innovation expert and lecturer

Sakariina began her studies in England. After three years at university there, in spring 2001, she received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in tourism research. After completing the degree, she stayed in England to work for a year in an employment office and then came back to Finland, to her hometown of Espoo.
In Finland, Sakariina worked for several years, first in an office providing training in languages and cultures and then as information officer at Business Intelligence.
“At one point I tried life as an entrepreneur, too, because jobs were hard to find and I didn’t want to be unemployed for a minute”, Sakariina notes.

In 2005, however, she decided to upgrade her degree to a master’s. She was accepted at the University of Lapland to continue her studies and received her master’s at the beginning of 2007. After graduation, Sakariina moved back to Espoo and went back to her old job as information officer at Business Intelligence.

Autumn 2008 proved to be a turning point in Sakariina’s career. She applied for a position as lecturer at Laurea University of Applied Sciences and to her great delight got the opportunity to teach.
“I completed pedagogical studies at Haaga-Helia UAS while working and spent three very enriching years in the teaching profession”, Sakariina recalls.
In 2011, a position opened up at Haaga-Helia as lecturer and research, development and innovation expert, and this is the work Sakariina is doing today.

“I work with projects in many fields and in stages from filing applications for the project to running them. Some of them are international, and this means I travel a lot. My work is varied, challenging and inspiring”, Sakariina says.

In autumn 2013, she decided to start post-graduate studies.

- Yes, now I am back at the University of Lapland, working on a thesis dealing with user-centred innovations.

Sample project
Pasila: A World of Experience
Project director: Sakariina Heikkanen
Duration: 1 Jan – 30 Sep 2014
Partners: YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Corporation)
Funding: Uusimaa ELY Centre (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment), European Social Fund

The Helsinki region has few tourist attractions that appeal to international guests in particular, and its principal year-round attractions are the museums. Finland lacks an attraction that would be based on and feature media experiences, one that would, for example, offer media education and entertainment. In other countries, large studio complexes are popular sites to visit.
Haaga Helia and Yle would like to make the Pasila studios into such an attraction; the project could use Yle facilities that are no longer in use and are easily convertible for other purposes. Those planning the project include businesses that produce events and tourist experiences, who are looking for new ways to create direct contacts with their target groups.

The feasibility study now in progress follows what is known as the Neloskierre (Fourth spiral) operating principle, which in the present case means that the innovation process involves the end-users of the site (businesses and the general public), developers (including Haaga-Helia), beneficiaries (businesses in the focal areas) and the executor (Yle/Pasila Studios). The feasibility study is being carried out using workshops, among other techniques, that make use of co-creation methods. The end-users are involved throughout the planning process.

The feasibility study will be completed in autumn 2014 and produce an action plan outlining measures for enlivening the Pasila area and energizing business activities there.

Sakariina Heikkanen