RDI2CluB project local pilot case of Central Finland: Waakku mobile application

One of RDI2CluB project´s local pilot cases was Waakku mobile application, which was designed and tested in Central Finland. Here is a report about the pilot project and it´s results.

In Central Finland the farmer group is currently co-operating in procurement of products and materials. They have a digital tool for listing their joint procurement needs and delivering a joint invitation to bid for sellers. The opportunity to buy in bulk and coordinate logistics has decreased costs of operations for the farms. Because there are challenges to get temporary and skilled workforce for farms, the farmer group has identified a need for a system allowing coordination of services, seasonal help and temporary workers to the farms. As a local pilot case in Central Finland, the digital tool, a mobile application, was developed and tested with the farmer group.

The farmer group was involved in designing of the application as well as local SMEs offering services to farms and job seekers who are willing to work in farms. Local pilot project team in Central Finland arranged several workshops to be able to identify services needed and events to promote the application for potential users. The idea was to develop an application with location-based map feature to allow easy coordination between farms located in the same area to produce a service or hire help jointly.

The pilot case involved not just design of the mobile application but also testing with the farmer group, SMEs and job seekers on real-life needs. In addition to farmers, households were also invited to test the application to activate the usage and to attract more SMEs to join testing and of course students, as important seasonal workers for farms, as well.

The pilot case in Central Finland was implemented in close collaboration with the farmer group, local SMEs, a software company, Paja.io, a local co-operative, Värkkäys, and with the Saarijärvi city employment unit. All those partners were involved in pilot project to join the design work and to connect farmers, service providers, job seekers and students as users of the application.

The mobile application, which was named Waakku, got more than 160 registered users in Saarijärvi area during the piloting period. According to the implemented survey (38 answerer), the application is seen as an useful tool for matchmaking service needs and workforce in rural area. 100% answered “yes” in question presented about the usefulness of app.

Not many “calls for workforce/service providers” was announced in the app but according to survey results in most cases the service provider was found straight from the list of services available. It is highly recognized from the survey results and the feedback received, that more time is needed from rural area people, especially from farmers, to adopt this new way of finding workforce. Nevertheless the local pilot project team in Central Finland believes that this could be the tool to make the rural area more vital and not just in Central Finland but also in other regions and also in other BSR rural areas.

Due gig economy and people moving to bigger cities, the city of Saarijärvi is interested in the further development of the application. There is a lot of potential to further develop the app to serve the needs of the municipality and to ensure vitality in a such small town. Also the software company has announced it´s interest to explore opportunities the location based application offers. However it takes time and effort to obtain the critical mass of users and create the business model. Thanks to the pilot project there is a good basis for further development.

The scalability potential has been recognized during the pilot project by cooperating in transnational pilot group and in On Stage event, where the application was introduced to international audience. Mobile application for connecting rural entrepreneurs and workforce is quite easy to implement in other BRS region countries by copying the operating model from piloted version and documents available. The location-based map feature enables the use not only regionally but also nationally and internationally.

More information about the local pilot case project and the application from tiina.kuisma@jamk.fi

The impact report is available in address: https://www.impactreport.app/biobord/index.html?view=Home