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10 March 2020

Sustainable Manufacturing Finland program focuses on increasing the competitiveness of the Finnish manufacturing industry in a sustainable way

On March 5th, Business Finland hosted the Sustainable Manufacturing Finland program launch event at the Scandic Park Hotel in Helsinki, Finland. The launch event sought to provide attendees with an understanding of the importance of the industry and an overview of the program. As we know, manufacturing is an important sector for the Finnish economy, accounting for about half of Finland’s exports and almost 30 % of the GDP. The program focuses on renewing business models and increasing productivity, while actively seeking solutions to the challenges of climate change. The target is that the new solutions will develop into significant exports products for Finland.

The event was opened by Nina Kopola (Director General, Business Finland), who emphasized the role of sustainable manufacturing in the world that is changing faster and faster. The solutions to the challenges the world is facing are found through technologies. Saving the world is a good business and companies should be parts of the solutions, not the problem itself. The goal is to make Finland a true global superpower of smart sustainable manufacturing leading to increased competitiveness, more high value exports, and a larger carbon handprint.

Matti Mannonen (Executive Director, Innovation and Economic Policy, Technology Finland) discussed the future of the manufacturing industry in Finland. Mannonen highlighted that we have an amazingly large number of companies providing digital technologies internationally. However, we are facing new challenges, e.g. climate change, overconsumption of resources, most challenging climate targets, meaning we must continue developing the world’s most advanced technologies. With these technologies, the potential to increase productivity and, thus, common welfare is unlimited.

Ilona Lundström (Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment) presented the development of Finland Fit for Digital Strategy which the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is preparing. According to the current governmental program Finland should be carbon neutral by 2035. This is an extremely challenging goal and the whole society is needed onboard. However, the message of digitalization is missing from the governmental program. Finland is a global leader in digitalization but, at the same time, we are lagging behind in investments. Thus, the ministry is preparing Finland Fit for Digital, a digital strategy for sustainable industry (see image below) which will be launched this spring.

Toni Mattila (Program Manager, Business Finland) introduced Business Finland’s Sustainable Manufacturing program. Sustainable Manufacturing is a four-year program (1.1.2020-31.12.2023) supporting the renewal and growth of the manufacturing industry. The program has been established: i) to fight climate change, companies shall reinvent their business practices, ii) environmental integrity of a business shall go hand-in-hand with financial profitability, iii) productivity is the biggest challenge for our national economy, and iv) sustainable value creation is an opportunity to develop competitive edge.

The mission of the program is to improve competitiveness and the carbon handprint of manufacturing industries in Finland. This leads to the objective of helping Finnish manufacturing ecosystems to achieve global leadership in sustainable manufacturing through collaborative innovation and business renewal.

The program is targeted to manufacturing ecosystems, and companies and research organizations are invited to participate in the program. Although the program covers the manufacturing industry widely, at the outset, emphasis is placed on machine & equipment industries, (opto) electronics and the photonics industry, as well as companies in the industrial digital transformation industry. The program offers the following services to the participants: i) building national and international networks with the program participants, ii) promoting and funding innovation in Finland and Europe, iii) exploring new markets and business contact for business groups, iv) attracting foreign experts to the industry, and v) business opportunities for foreign companies in Finland.

The program helps companies to network and find partners for renewal. In addition, the program helps companies to grab bigger business opportunities together than they could do by themselves.

Atte Haapalinna (CTO, Okmetic Oy), Jyrki Keskinen (Director of Sustainable Energy Solution, Wapice Oy), and Harri Nieminen (Head of Research and Innovation, Fastems Oy) presented their own related successful business cases and gave some concreteness to the theme of sustainable manufacturing.

Elina Holmberg (Senior Director) and Ulla Hiekkanen-Mäkelä (Development Manager) of Business Finland discussed the EU funding opportunities and international talents recruiting possibilities for the manufacturing industry. The event concluded with a panel discussion with Matti Mannonen, Toni Mattila and Harri Nieminen about how to respond to the challenges of the manufacturing industry.

In summation, the event introduced Business Finland’s new sustainable manufacturing program, its mission and objectives. What the program actually means and how it will differ from Business Finland’s current services is still unclear. However, it is important that the manufacturing industry has now been raised as a spearhead and its importance has been understood by Business Finland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

The video recording of the event can be watched via this link. You can find all the presentations of the event at MEX Finland’s members’ area.