Sunna Kovanen

Building 2B, Room 2.20/21
T +49 (0) 355 69 3556

Since 2021
Research associate in the Department of Regional Planning at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU), in the project Bündnis WIR! Region 4.0

, sub-project Weiterentwicklung der Innovationsstrategie, financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. (Link to the project's website:

Early-Stage Research at the EU Marie Curie ITN –funded research- and network project RurAction at the Leibniz-Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig, Germany.

Since 2017
PhD-Candidate at the Institute for Geography, University of Leipzig, Germany.

Professional training in Accounting and project work in advisory on ethical financing for social enterprises at the cooperative Ehta Raha, Helsinki, Finland.

Studies in Geography, University of Turku, Finland

  • Regional and local development
  • Post-growth, post-development, ecological welfare systems
  • Practice theories
  • Eco-social entrepreneurship
  • Regional value chains and basic services

Nagy, E., Kovanen, S., Schäfer, M., Gailing, L. (2023): Innovationen in ländlichen Räumen etablieren? Erkenntnisse aus der Umsetzung und Weiterentwicklung einer regionalen Innovationsstrategie. RaumPlanung, 220(2023), 49-54.

Kovanen, Sunna. (in press). Rezension: Postwachstumsgeografien. Europa Regional.

Kovanen, Sunna. (2021). Social Entrepreneurship as a Collaborative Practice: Literature Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management, 17(1), 97–128.

Kovanen, S. (2020). Collaborative patterns of long-term sustainability in community social enterprises: International comparative case study. Quaestionaes Geographicae, 39(4), 53–63.

van Twuijver, M. Kovanen S. & Olmedo, L. (2020) On a mission for the region. How social entrepreneurial actors tackle problems in structurally weak rural regions. Social Enterprises in Structurally Weak Rural Regions: Innovative Troubleshooters in Action. Handbook for Practitioners. IRS Dialog 6(2020), 14–29.

Eskelinen, Teppo, Kovanen, Sunna, Van der Wekken, Ruby. (2017). Self-Organisation in solidarity economies. Yhdyskuntasuunnittelu 3, 76–80.

Sunna Kovanen & Peter Ulrich: Building a participatory governance network for social innovation promotion in rural value chains in north-eastern Germany. Promises and challenges of research-guided rural development, Regional Studies Association - Regions in Recovery „Re-imagining Regions“, 1.4.2022.

Sunna Kovanen & Peter Ulrich: Building collaborative governance network for social innovations in rural value chains in North-Eastern Germany, 18.11.2021, GRASP - A Festival of New Ideas, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark.

Anya Umantseva & Sunna Kovanen: Balancing between collaborative transformation and stability in rural eco-social entrepreneurship: international comparative case study, 18.11.2021, GRASP - A Festival of New Ideas, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark.

Sunna Kovanen & Anya Umantseva: UK Society for Cooperative Studies Conference: Balancing between collaborative transformation and stability in rural eco-social entrepreneurship: international comparative case study, 10.09.2021.

Workshops with regional partners: Continuous workshop Bündnis WIR! Region 4.0 and Innovation Campus meBEST, 15.11.2021, Investor Center Uckermark, Schwedt (Oder).

Spatially just transition? Exploring (post)developmental discourses and practises in rural Europe. 25th YHYS Colloquium "Measuring and valuing sustainability", 20.11. 2020, online.

Video-presentation on the PhD-work for the EMES COST co-organized International Training School "Researching the collaborative dimension of social enterprise for sustainable regional and rural development" 23.10.2020, online.

(Un)just structures and practises of collaboration in rural social entrepreneurship –international comparison. 4.8.2020, Räumliche Gerechtigkeit. Themendossier of the Academy for Territorial Development of the Leibniz-Association:

Rural social entrepreneurship as collaborative endeavour: Way towards sustainability without growth? Social- and Solidarity Economy and the commons. 8.11.2019, ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.

On relevance and challenges of collaboration for the long-term sustainability of rural social enterprises. 8th Nordic Geographers´ Meeting. 18.6.2020, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Social Entrepreneurship Counterbalancing Peripherality? Kick-off Workshop of the Project Mining cities in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. 27.8.2018, Leibniz-Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig, Germany.

Reconceptualising rural social entrepreneurship as a collaborative, conflictive and learning endeavour. 6th International Degrowth Conference. 24.8.2018, Malmö, Sweden. Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University.

Reconceptualising rural social enterprises as collaborative, conflictive and learning endeavours. 3rd EMES Polanyi Conference. 17.4.2018, Roskilde, Denmark. Roskilde University.

Reconceptualising rural social entrepreneurship as collaborative endeavour. Jahrestagung der Arbeitskreis Ländlicher Raum. 24.2.2018 Kiel, Germany. Geographisches Institut, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel.

SS 2022: Excursion. "Uckermark-Barnim: Peripherie im Umbruch?" (with Ariane Sept).

Supervising internships at the Leibniz-Institute for Regional Geography 2018 und 2020.

Guest stays:
Mustarinda recidency, Mai 2021, Finland

Secondment at the Cooperative Stevia Hellas, Greece, within the RurAction project October 2019. Co-organisation of a networking event for female entrepreneurs in the region of Phthiotis, Greece, Preparation of a survey for female entrepreneurs and introduction of impact assessment methods for the cooperative.

Secondment at the Association ADC Moura, Portugal April 2019 - June within the RurAction project. Support in organising advisory workshops for local farmers and in further project tasks.

Secondment at the Social Impact gGmbH Berlin November 2018 - February 2019 within the RurAction project and the INTERREG project SocentSPAS. Background research for and preparation of an action plan for improving social entrepreneurship policy in the state of Brandenburg.

Workshops with regional partners:
Participation at the study visit by the OECD on conducting a Policy Review on „Boosting social entrepreneurship and social enterprise development in Brandenburg“, the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy of the federal state of Brandenburg, Potsdam 25.2.2020.

Co-organising the Brandenburg policy round table of the project RurAction and SEFORIS "Stadtflüchter & Landbleiber als Chance für ländliche Räume", online 25 June 2020

External advisor at the Global Goals Challenge Workshop by Social Impact 30.11.2019 Beelitz-Heilstätten.

Presentation at the workshop „Social Entrepreneurship – Eine neue Perspektive für Sachsen-Anhalt" together with Stefan Haunstein 19.03.2019. by the Center of Competence for Social Innovations in Sachsen-Anhalt, Frauenhofer Insitute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS), Halle.

EMES International research network for social enterprise

Vereinigung für Ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung e.V.