Pure Finland seminar “Where’s the next billion”, Beijing

Building a growth platform for world class innovations

Your Excellency, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Promotion of investment cooperation is high on the agenda in China-Finland relations. Last year president Xi and our president Niinistö agreed on developing a new partnership between China and Finland – and investment and innovation promotion are key areas of future cooperation. I am extremely glad that China and Finland actually have a good match in terms of strategic priorities as well as complementary business interest.

Finland is an open economy which is equally attractive for both foreign and domestic investors. If you take into account Finland’s relative size, our investments in China are the largest among EU countries. We have also a strong focus on a well functioning platform for Chinese investments in Finland and Europe.

New solutions for growth and competitiveness are crucial. In order to promote new growth the Finnish government has taken actions to speed up the restructuring and transformation of our industries. Restructuring of industries is also a current issue in China, and I believe this provides us promising joint opportunities.

Sectors where the Finnish government sees possibilities for new growth are the so called A, B, C and D sectors: so, A for arctic solutions including machinery, B for bioeconomy and other forest-related industries, C for cleantech and D for digitalization. There are obvious reasons for choosing these sectors as our priorities: many of them are traditionally strong areas for Finnish industries and therefore our companies can offer world-class know-how. Chinese interest in these sectors and the country’s strong economical growth provides remarkable growth potential for both countries.

In addition to accelerating new growth we continue to promote our national competitiveness. Finland wants to provide the best global innovation base for Chinese companies. As you know, Finland was recently ranked as number one among EU countries according to WEF. This reflects the innovative capacity of the Finnish enterprises combined with our advanced educational infrastructure. A key tool to increase competitiveness is investments into research, development and innovations where the Finnish share has traditionally been one of the highest in the world: almost four per cent of GDP over the last years. We still see that this is where we need to invest, despite the economically tough times. Innovations are key to renewing our economy and leading to economic growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I gave my speech a title “Building a growth platform for world class innovations” since I wanted to tell you what we have done recently in Finland in order to accelerate innovations and to promote foreign Chinese investments to Finland.

First of all, education, innovations and investments go hand in hand. All success starts with a top quality educational system and I think there is every reason to say that Finland is a superpower in education. In a knowledge-economy like Finland, there is a steady stream of cutting-edge innovations for investors to capitalize on.

What makes Finland the hub of Eurasia, where everybody are or want to be? What makes Finland unique?

First, we have a unique innovation platform – and later I tell you why. Secondly, we have a unique technology and start-up ecosystem. And thirdly, we have a unique, geographical position as a hub for business.

First of all, innovations require creativity. The Finnish school and education system has been internationally rewarded for its good results, creativity and innovativeness. In addition we invest highly in R&D&I. This all means that we have a strong platform for innovations which we are continuously enhancing. A truly innovative society attracts investments. I am sure that our innovations environment is also attractive for Chinese companies and research institutes.

Secondly, Finland has a unique technology and start-up environment, including the best global mobile ecosystem. One example is the annual investment event called SLUSH. It takes place in November in Helsinki every year. Over the past years it has grown into one of the main events globally where Finnish technology companies, start-ups and investors from all over the world meet – including Chinese key players. We welcome even more Chinese investors to participate in our SLUSH investment event in Helsinki in a few weeks time.

Thirdly, Finland at the center of Eurasia has a unique, geographical position as a hub for business. For example, we offer the shortest flight connections between Europe and Asia. Also – maybe a little surprisingly – our cold climate offers some advantages: cold climate in Finland is beneficial for cooling data centers and this saves millions in annual operations. This is one of the reasons why for example Google chose Finland for its large scale data center. Together with lower electricity tax for data centers and enhanced data connections – a new cable to Germany and a planned cable to Asia over the Arctic sea – Finland is an excellent location for data centers.

In addition to data centers many international players have established R&D centers in Finland in order to tap to the knowledge pool in the strong areas like mobile communications. Chinese Huawei is one of the many examples from China.

As I mentioned our cold climate earlier, I have to add one more beneficial factor related to it. As you know at this stage of my speech, we are a technology-driven country. But combining technology to cold climate can actually offer a competitive advantage: if a technological innovation works in Finnish winter, you can be sure it works also everywhere else!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland works closely with the leading innovation players such as China. Research, development and innovation cooperation leads to cutting edge solutions and helps our companies to move up in the global value chain. We welcome you to invest in Finnish companies and to join our world class innovation platform in Finland.

Thank you, Xie Xie!