Ilona Lundström: Even big players can't go it alone


Finland needs flagship companies as part of a diverse business sector. As well as being major exporters, employers and tax payers (despite recent publicity – see here for the largest one hundred: YLE news), such companies play a key role in the development of national expertise. Will Finland move forward or stagnate? This will largely depend on the willingness and ability of large companies to regenerate.

When large companies are looking for new business areas and complementary know-how, they often find new opportunities in small companies and research organisations. Tekes provides leverage that helps to get the wheels of business renewal moving. In the case of large companies, this is also key leverage working in the other direction, since almost all of the euros we invest in big companies flow, via subcontractors, into small enterprises and research organisations.

In many sectors, Finnish expertise is considered world class and Finland is a genuinely attractive innovation environment. For example, Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant which invests heavily in product development, has located one of its biggest global clinical research units here, where it is collaborating with Auria Biobank and Orion Pharma. Rolls-Royce Oy Ab is currently heading an extensive R&D project on the remote control of marine vessels, which is strengthening Finland's role in the marine cluster as a leading nation in maritime remote control technology. Co-funded by Tekes, this project brings together companies, universities, ship designers, device manufacturers and classification bodies.

Small companies have the chance to demonstrate their skills when working alongside large firms. An EcoEnergy SF bio-gasification plant will begin operating alongside a Metsä Fibre bioplant when the latter starts up in Äänekoski. To this unique plant, which processes sludge from pulp mills to generate bioenergy, cooperation with the larger bioplant is a key reference for entering the global markets. As Niklas von Weymarn, VP Research at Metsä Fibre, has pointed out, large anchor enterprises play a major role in bio- and circular economy projects. They enable SMEs to operate as part of the ecosystem.

Even big players can't go it alone They need partnerships and the new expertise which research and SMEs can provide. Tekes uses its funding to support network-based cooperation of this kind.

Ilona Lundström, Executive Director

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