Martti Äijälä: Funding for the bravest can be found


Success in international markets requires competitive products that meet customers' needs. The desire to expand internationally is not sufficient alone: in addition, research and development is needed to create new competitive products, services, ways to operate and competences as well.

To obtain Tekes funding, a mere product development project is not enough. The company must have the ability also to increase its international business competence, customer understanding, logistics and pricing. Only then, the products and services will create employment and new profitable business. For this reason, the projects currently funded by Tekes almost always include customer surveys, piloting and planning of commercialisation. There are always risks attached to a company's desire to grow and expand internationally, but in these kinds of projects Tekes can act as a co-funder and risk-sharer.

In addition to national funding, there are available several international funding instruments intermediated and coordinated by Tekes. The EU's Horizon 2020 framework programme starting in January is the most important of these, and its particular focus is on SMEs. There are also funding programmes with Russia, China, Canada and Germany. In these, Tekes funds Finnish companies while the international partner funds companies or research groups of its own country. In addition to joint product development, these projects create many new networks, partnerships and visibility, which help in expanding business.

The Team Finland network has gained a lot in visibility and increased companies' expectations. For SME's willing to grow and become more international, there are many services available. The joint Growth Track service model of the involved parties in the Ministry of Employment and the Economy offers companies their own Growth Pilot, who will seek for the most suitable public funding and expert services for the company on the basis of its business and internationalisation plans. Thus companies that are still to some extent uninformed about the public funding sector can speed up their progress. In the Market Access programme, Tekes can fund companies' international business development with MBA students of top universities in the USA, China and Southeast Asia.

The aim of Tekes funding is to create growth. Tekes funding for SMEs, start-ups and more established companies was approximately 230 million euros in 2013. The companies themselves contribute at least the same amount in their projects. A future five billion euro turnover is expected from the products and services that have received funding.

Martti Äijälä
Executive Director, Growth companies


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