Southwest Finland is known for its unique archipelago comprising over 20,000 islands. By its population, Southwest Finland is the third biggest region in Finland. There are 27 municipalities in Southwest Finland. Turku is the fifth biggest city in Finland. Almost 6 % of the regions’ 473 000 inhabitants speak Swedish as their mother tongue. Southwest Finland’s central location as a gateway to the West makes it an important international actor in the Baltic Sea area.
Southwest Finland is a diverse educational region and Turku has been selected the best student city in the nation. The expertise in Southwest Finland creates products ranging from medicine to the world’s biggest and most environmental cruise ships. The marine industry is a major employer in the region and represents global top competence. The research and development in biosciences is world class. Creativity and culture have shaped life in this region throughout ages.
Studies show that cycling is a rather minor method of transportation in the area – only 8% in 2016. The percentage is slightly higher within the region of Turku (10%) compared to the smaller municipalities (4-7%). Although the percentage is not high, attitude towards cycling is positive among the residents in the area and development of walking and cycling infrastructure is considered to be important.
The partners in HEAT Project located in the area of Southwest Finland are Valonia – Service Centre for Sustainable Development and Energy of Southwest Finland and Turku University of Applied Sciences. Sustainable traffic development is a core part of Valonia’s work in the area.