Helsinki Metro­politan Smart & Clean Foundation

Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation was a five-year ‘step change’ project with 29 public-private partners from the Helsinki Metropolitan cities, leading businesses, universities, research institutions, and state actors. The Foundation orchestrated impactful climate solutions for systemic urban challenges in transport, energy, construction, and the waste and water sector. Emission-reducing solutions also generate new types of business and create export references for businesses. The Foundation’s operating period was 1st July 2016 to 30th June 2021.

Orchestrator’s role is new and important in leading systemic change. The key is getting the right people and organisations together and getting them to work together in an interdependent ecosystem.

An orchestrator:

Collects data and calculates the impacts
Creates a holistic picture of the actions needed to make the change wanted
Identifies all the actors needed to make the change
Identifies and connects the actors
Identifies the right actions with the most impact (utilising data)
Creates leadership models that enable the individual actors to see that their actions are dependent on each other and that sometimes individual organisations need to compromise for the good of the common goal
Communicates and markets the ecosystem and the solution(s)
Fosters trust as a neutral actor
Builds capacity and knowledge

The foundation had an innovative long-term financing and governance model. It was financed by donations from its partners and the board consisted of the CEOs, mayors and other senior directors from its partners.

Smart & Clean’s aim was to create an operating model to help make a systemic change into a 1.5°C society together.


A world-class reference area

The Smart & Clean project was launched because the world needs solutions for mitigating climate change and using resources sustainably. Finland needs a world-class reference area and display window to boost the business and export of smart solutions and clean technology. To achieve these goals, the Helsinki Region should be collaboratively made into a place where business accelerates the mitigation of climate change and helps cities create a better quality of life for their residents. At the same time, new skills accumulate in the cities and they are developed together in new ways.

1.5°C solutions for cities around the world

Smart & Clean change actions had to meet five impact criteria. These actions reduce emissions, improve urban residents’ quality of life and promote more efficient use of resources. The actors should come from both the public and private sector, across city and sector boundaries. The change projects’ goal was to create new business and internationally interesting references for businesses that have been tested in the Helsinki metropolitan area. This increases well-being and makes sustainable solutions more widespread worldwide.

Emission reductions

Change projects reduce carbon dioxide emissions and/or promote the circular economy. For example, the Renovation Leap project is making old buildings smart and energy efficient through new kinds of renovation concepts.

Quality of life

Change projects enable urban residents to make sustainable choices and improve their quality of life. For instance, microplastics are being removed from lake waters in the Stormwater Quality Management project, and the denser air quality measurement network enables more efficient air quality improvement measures.

Business potential

Change projects develop sustainable business for companies and the starting point is scaling them from pilots into successful solutions and services, both in Finland and globally.


Smart & Clean changes have to create home market references for businesses. they must therefore be of international interest.


Change projects always involve both private and public actors.

Aiming for permanent change

The goal of doing things together in a new way was to create an operating model in which impactful climate and circular economy solutions, new innovations, and sustainable growth are born in the Helsinki Region. Transformative climate solutions can only be made through multi-sector collaboration.