Interregional cooperation for energy transition in SMEs

Energy efficiency is now a more urgent topic than ever. In March 2023, the provisional agreement on the EU Energy Efficiency Directive reform established that energy savings of 11.7 % by 2030 are mandatory in the EU countries. Besides the public sector, also companies will be stimulated to become more energy efficient. (European Commission 2023.)

In most cases, SMEs and especially micro enterprises do not have the resources and manpower for green energy transition. It is, therefore, essential that the policy authorities provide them with a necessary support, importantly on a regional or local level.

Image 1. Heikki Mäkilä presenting the Heinola Climate Roadmap at the SME POWER Final Dissemination Event in Florence, Italy. (Picture: Katerina Medkova)

On 20 April 2023, the final dissemination event was organized by SME POWER in Florence, Italy. The hybrid meeting gathered over 40 participants, including project partners and their stakeholders. During the roundtable discussions, all partners presented the outcomes achieved in their regions in adapting regional policy to better support SMEs in decarbonisation. Among the participating regions was also the Heinola City, Finland, represented by Heikki Mäkilä. (Interreg Europe 2023a.)

Heinola Climate Roadmap

The aim of the project is to improve regional policies related to energy issues. In case of the SME POWER in Finland, Heikki Mäkilä highlighted the creation of a new policy instrument, the Heinola Climate Roadmap.

Telling others what to do is obviously not an impactful way to change anyone’s behaviour. Regulation as a policy to reduce emissions is not the way Heinola wanted to embrace. Therefore, the city took a completely different approach. They implemented a process involving a broad range of stakeholders to identify the key areas that are significantly affecting emissions. (Mäkilä 2023.)

As an outcome, Heinola Climate Roadmap consists of six themes: bio and circular economy, energy solutions, nature and tourism, carbon neutral construction, traffic and logistics, and sustainable consumption. According to Mäkilä, the city knows the local players, who know their business and the market demands for sustainability. The Heinola City can then offer tools, such as carbon footprint/handprint calculation, procurement, pilots, ecosystem development, data analysis and communication. The implementation progress is measured as a community by monitoring both the carbon footprint and handprint, and by assessing the development of the vigour and vitality of Heinola. (Heinola 2023; Mäkilä 2023.)

Cooperation between Heinola and LAB

The successful implementation of the Climate Roadmap relies on active cooperation and collaboration among the local players of the Päijät-Häme region, including the public and private sector, academia, and research institutions. Among them is also LAB University of Applied Sciences and LUT University, both participating in RDI projects in Heinola.

Heinola has closely cooperated with LAB also due to the creation of the joint Regional Energy Stakeholder (RES) group in 2019. The RES group was established to support two Interreg Europe co-funded projects: SME POWER – SMEs Powering a Low Carbon Future and RESINDUSTRY – Policies for Renewable Energy Sources in Industry. The latter is coordinated in Finland by LAB. Since both projects focus on the topic of energy, specifically energy efficiency and renewable energy, the close cooperation has provided a synergetic effect on knowledge exchange and capacity building.


Heikki Mäkilä acts as a Project Director at the Heinola City and coordinates the SME POWER project in Finland. SME POWER is co-funded by Interreg Europe.

Katerina Medkova works as an RDI specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and acts as a Project & Communication Manager in the RESINDUSTRY project. RESINDUSTRY is co-funded by Interreg Europe.


European Commission. 2023. European Green Deal: EU agrees stronger rules to boost energy efficiency. Press release. Cited 15 May 2023. Available at

Heinola. 2023. Ilmastopositiivinen Heinola 2030 – Heinolan ilmastotiekartta HIT. Heinola. Cited 15 May 2023. Available at

Interreg Europe. 2023a. Interregional Cooperation for SMEs Energy Transition. SME POWER. Cited 15 May 2023. Available at

Mäkilä, H. 2023. Interregional Cooperation for SMEs Energy Transition. Speech given at the Roundtable presentation of the project and of its main results, SME POWER Final Dissemination Event on 20 Apr 2023, Florence, Italy.


Link 1. Interreg Europe. 2023b. Project Summary. SME POWER. Cited 24 Apr 2023. Available at

Link 2. Interreg Europe. 2023c. Project Summary. RESINDUSTRY. Cited 24 Apr 2023. Available at