The InnoOmnia Hub - A Learning Community of Entrepreneurs

This case study was prepared by Elina Oksanen-Ylikoski, communication and development director, Ph.D. (Econ.), Mervi Jansson, director of education partnerships, MBA from Omnia, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme


Omnia, The Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo Region is a multisector education provider and regional development center with over 700 staff and 10000 students, offering training at 11 locations.

Omnia offers vocational training to young people and adults ranging from basic to specialist qualifications, apprenticeship training, youth workshops and professional development programs for teachers, trainers and school leaders in both the K-12 and vocational training sectors.

Omnia is a forerunner in national and international education development projects focusing on systemic, sustainable solutions, and received the Ministry of Education Quality Award in 2013 in addition to recognition for the most innovative learning environment.

Description of the activity/project

InnoOmnia, a flagship for vocational learning, opened its doors in August 2011. InnoOmnia is a lifelong learning hub located on the Omnia Kirkkokatu campus, offering a unique combination of services.

InnoOmnia addresses several topical educational and social issues in the metropolitan area and Finland in general:

1) Unemployment; How to empower people to make a living through entrepreneurship? How to provide people with new skills, networks and courage needed in creating new jobs in the future?

2) Image of VET; Can modern technology, real world learning, pedagogy and good chances of future employment make it an attractive choice for the youth?

3) Training teachers and school leaders about 21st century learning in VET.

4) Offering on-the-job/work-based learning opportunities for students, often the first job for a 16-17 year-old.

5) Making entrepreneurship sustainable and less of a lone journey by offering community support.

Thus, InnoOmnia’s purpose is to empower teachers, students and entrepreneurs, increase innovation on the grassroot level and ensure high quality VET education through providing

InnoOmnia is a community where teachers, students and entrepreneurs share the same coffee pot - literally. All spaces are learning spaces and everyone is both a learner and a teacher.

InnoOmnia's development projects pilot different aspects of 21st century vocational learning, e.g. teaching real world skills, using mobile technology and cloud-based learning to improve learning outcomes, or learning through entrepreneurial projects.

As all the facilities are shared with entrepreneurs, InnoOmnia staff and students, the community develops new forms of cooperation on a daily basis.

Entrepreneurs apply to join the community. Once in, they receive daily community and business support ranging from facilities, training, collegial support to product development and service design projects with students and teachers, business advice, innovative workshops and pop-up-selling opportunities and many more.

Entrepreneurs may rent work premises from the hub. These may range from shared offices, meeting rooms or showrooms for products and services. If they so choose, they may only acquire a keytag that allows use co-creation spaces and pop-upfacilities at the campus and city area. Opportunity to use these facilities in a flexible and cost-effective way has attracted many home-based start-ups and free-lancers.

Working with students and actively contributing to the community is a requirement for everyone. In the application stage, InnoOmnia maps the applicants’ expectations, needs and potential for co-operation with the students and other entrepreneurs in the community, in order to create as successful win-win-relationships as possible. This is pivotal as failure to identify the applicant’s expectations easily results in dissatisfaction, isolation and eventually resignation from the community.

Following examples illustrate the forms of co-creation within InnoOmnia community:

InnoOmnia organized a competition in which young students were guided to make their competencies and skills visible through video-cv:s and other digital tools. Four big employers in the area participated in the project through rewarding the winners with summer jobs in their companies.

Achievements and impact

Since opening in September 2011, InnoOmnia has supported 110 new/would-be entrepreneurs in making their business sustainable. Over 600 students have benefited from on-thejob/work-based learning within the hub or its projects. Nearly 900 teachers and school leaders have been trained on entrepreneurial teaching methods and educational technology, spreading new teaching and learning across VET in Finland. 700 Omnia staff have been exposed to new pedagogy along with 2700 visitors.

Altogether, Omnia is a forerunner in developing education. In today's networked world, motivated, development oriented people are the key to excellence in education.

With the establishment of InnoOmnia in 2011, developing, piloting and unprecedented innovation in the public sector became the new norm in Omnia. What has been achieved in the past three years could not have been accomplished without our excellent network partners in Finland and abroad.

The following links highlight only some of the great projects and events Omnia has had the pleasure to partner in:

Success factors

Obstacles and ways to overcome them