Pekka Soini: Large and small in balance


In assuming my post as Director General of Tekes, I am very gratified to see that Tekes' strategy is a good one. I see no reason for any major reform.

We also enjoy ample variety in our clientele. Approximately half of the companies receiving funding for any given year are new Tekes clients. This means a large number of new enterprises entering the innovation game every year as well as major, multi-year projects.

On the business end of things, our strategy emphasises three target groups: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking international expansion, companies with moderate growth and major corporations. One of Tekes' most important tasks is to get these very different enterprises to find one another and work in co-operation with each other as well as with researchers.

Growth enterprises are crucial to the national economy of Finland. Our business sector needs their agile dynamism, ability to bring about reform and enterprise growth.

Start-ups form their own special group among growth enterprises. Initially, start-ups suffer from a glaring lack of marketing funds, something which requires public funding to correct. Tekes' mission is to provide business development funding in this field for young, innovative enterprises. This is supplemented by the professionals of the Vigo venture accelerators. Transferring equity investment operations to Tekes adds a supplementary instrument for starting growth enterprises to our toolkit.

The use of tax revenues in the funding of research and development operations at major corporations is often criticised. Based on my own experience as an executive for a major multinational firm, I can say that major corporations place their research and development operations wherever the most competitive innovation environment and top expertise is found.

Tekes funding for projects at major corporations forms expertise and networks, which is why corporations should base their research operations in Finland. If we lose the competitiveness of our innovation environment, major corporations will move their research to foreign centres of expertise, such as Silicon Valley. Everyone understands that this would have a massively detrimental effect on our national economy.

During my first days on the job, I was frankly amazed at the effectiveness of Tekes' Global Access Programme (GAP). Here, foreign executive professionals complete post-graduate studies in the form of developing business plans for small enterprises aiming to enter the international market.

The excellent growth results achieved in the programme send a clear message: the EUR 1.2 million invested over an eight-year period have increased the Finnish national economy by over EUR 20 million and created 143 jobs. With a small contribution made by Tekes, we have been able to provide concrete assistance to companies. As you might imagine, I have become a major fan of the GAP.

The author, Pekka Soini, became Director General of Tekes on 1 September 2012.

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