Heikki Aro: Can you sustain growth?


We 600,000 or so Finnish forest owners are satisfied. We have heard the news about the domestic forest industry's new investments in Finland. Demand for wood will grow due to the corresponding, large-scale need for raw materials. However, a sufficient stock of raw materials will not suffice to guarantee the competitiveness of these huge new investments. The new production plants need new kinds of skills to meet the growing needs of the world economy. More energy and more products and services are needed. Growth is needed – based on the sustainable use of natural resources, and cleantech and the bioeconomy.

People are accustomed to regarding Finland as an ideal base for the generation of different and even radical innovations. On the other hand, we are often criticised for lack of interaction and cohesive collaboration, and for unnecessary dabbling in various issues. We need to set aside our defensive, downplaying and overly cautious approach in favour of bold risk-taking and an entrepreneurial mindset.

With its Sustainable Growth campaign, Team Finland is seeking to embolden and galvanise Finnish SMEs of cleantech and bioeconomy to engage in new forms of risk-taking. The Team Finland players are using the campaign to make TF's funding and internationalisation services available to companies as a single package. Projects involving piloting and demos for operational models, products and services, the creation of new networks and the development of international market expertise are good examples of such activities. In sum: companies receive advisory, funding and internationalisation services that fit their situation, on a tailored and one-stop-shop basis.

Finnish companies have much to offer in areas such as the efficient use of renewable energy and of the related expertise in raw materials, as well as sustainable mineral extraction and the versatile use of biomasses. As worldwide demand for material and resource efficiency grows, wholly new types of ideas forming the basis of innovations so-far unheard of on the markets will be needed from the cleantech and bioeconomy sectors. The campaign hopes to see private-sector piloting and demo projects in support of this, the open-minded combination of ICT expertise in the cleantech and bioeconomy sectors (the 'digibioeconomy') and broad-based activities aiming at the development of the burgeoning service sector.

The world economy is in the initial phase of its shift towards the bioeconomy, a shift which a modestly sized group of economic players have so far been bringing about. The risks are great and the commitment and support of a broad range of actors will be needed if the related objectives are to be achieved. With respect to this, the Sustainable Growth campaign is seeking to obtain a strong foothold for Finnish businesses in these transforming markets.

Heikki Aro, Programme Manager

Further information on the Sustainable Growth campaign (in Finnish)

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