International Opportunities and Business Models in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Description of the Project

This research project focuses on the entrepreneurial ecosystems and their influence towards firm development. Specifically, we look at growth entrepreneurship, in which conditions entrepreneurs seize and sense international opportunities, and subsequently develop appropriate business models to sustain their growth.

The main research questions we seek answer to are:

  • How should the Finnish entrepreneurial ecosystem be supported in order to encourage growth entrepreneurship and successful seizing of international opportunities by growth enterprises?
  • How should Finnish SMEs develop their business models to successfully leverage the entrepreneurial ecosystem to achieve international growth?

In Finland, more than 99% percent of companies are small- or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and they are the source of the newest jobs in the country (Kuismanen et al., 2019). Thus, SMEs are particularly important for the Finnish society and the regional and national economy. As Finland is a small domestic market characterized by high knowledge-intensive, niche-oriented SMEs (Kuivalainen et al., 2015), growth-seeking enterprises are rapidly faced with the necessity to seek growth from abroad. Therefore, it is a problem for the Finnish society that only 9% of the SMEs currently have clear growth strategies (Kuismanen et al., 2019). In order for more SMEs to internationalize successfully, they need to be able to recognize international opportunities; they need to have business models that are scalable to meet those opportunities; and they need to leverage the available support in the regional environment – the entrepreneurial ecosystem – to realize rapid growth despite their resource constraints. 

This research project will provide a scientific breakthrough in the field of international entrepreneurship research, by integrating the separate domains of research on business models and international opportunity recognition within the framework of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The result will be a comprehensive framework explaining how the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem impacts the entrepreneurial activities aimed at international growth. The result will be the pioneering studies clarifying these dynamics. The project research team is in an excellent position to provide this breakthrough, as the research team is at the forefront in these domains of research, having recently provided some of the first studies on the role of entrepreneurial ecosystems in startup development (Velt et al., 2018) as well as for the role of business model innovation in internationalization of SMEs (Asemokha et al., 2019), and of entrepreneurial opportunities (Vuorio, 2018; Vuorio et al., 2017).

The Research Team

LUT University

Olli Kuivalainen (Principal Investigator; D.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is a Professor of International Marketing and Entrepreneurship at LUT University School of Business and Management. His expertise covers broad areas of international business, marketing, entrepreneurship and technology management and their interfaces. His research interests are in the areas of international entrepreneurship, and strategic management, marketing and internationalization of knowledge-intensive firms, the focus especially being on firms operating in the domains of software business and media, and information and communication technologies. His academic work has been published in journals such as Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of World Business, International Business Review, Journal of International Marketing, Technovation, International Marketing Review, International Journal of Production Economics and Journal of International Entrepreneurship.

Hannes Velt (Project Manager; M.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is a Project Researcher at LUT University School of Business and Management. His doctoral dissertation deals with entrepreneurial ecosystems and their influence on firm development and internationalization. He has previously published in journals such as Journal of Enterprising Communities, and Journal of Export Marketing.

Lasse Torkkeli (D.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is an Associate Professor at LUT School of Business and Management. His areas of expertise are related especially to the internationalization of SMEs, their networks and partnerships, as well as the role of dynamic skills and culture in international business. He has published research articles in both conferences and international academic scientific journals, such as Journal of International Entrepreneurship, European Journal of Management and International Marketing Review, among others.

Anna Vuorio (D.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at LUT University School of Business and Management. Her area of expertise is related to the entrepreneurial intentions and opportunity recognition, and sustainable entrepreneurship. She has published research articles in journals such as Journal of International Entrepreneurship, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, and Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development.

Agnes Asemokha (M.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is a Junior Research at LUT University School of Business. Her doctoral dissertation deals with business model innovation in internationalizing SMEs. She has previously published in journals such as Journal of International Entrepreneurship, and Critical Perspectives on International Business.

Publications and Reports

  1. Velt, H. (2020). Who is Who? The Scientific Mapping of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Research from 2010-2019. 2020 ACERE Conference.
  2. Velt, H., Torkkeli, L., & Saarenketo, S. (2020). Transnational Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: The Perspectives of Finnish and Estonian Born-Global Start-Ups. In: Novotny, A., Clausen, T., Rasmussen, E. & Wiklund, J. (Eds.): Research Handbook on Start-up Incubation Ecosystems. Edward Elgar.
  3. Vuorio, A., Ivanova-Gongne, M. & Torkkeli, L. (2020). Sensemaking, institutional environment and bricolage in SMEs. 2020 ACERE Conference.
  4. Vuorio, A., Torkkeli, L. & Sainio, L.-M. (2020). Service Innovation and Internationalization in SMEs: Antecedents and Profitability Outcomes. Journal of International Entrepreneurship.


February 2020

  • Hannes Velt and Anna Vuorio began their Research Visitations in University of South-Australia (UniSA) and The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) respectively.
  • The visitation started with the kick-off event of #ACERE2020 conference in Adelaide, Australia.
  • Hannes presented his article on "Who is Who? The Scientific Mapping of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Research from 2010-2019" by giving an overview of the research field by exploring its publication records. 
  • Anna presented her article on "Antecedents to Bricolage: Institutional Environment and Sensemaking in SMEs".

January 2020

  • Official launch of the IOBMEE project.
  • Workshop (09.01) and meeting (17.01) were held to set up the project agenda for 12 months.