Pekka Sivonen, the head of digitalization at Tekes. Photo: Susanna Lehto
Behind every innovation and breakthrough is a proper funding. In Finland, Tekes is the most important publicly funded expert organization for financing research, development and innovation. Now, on the upswing are especially software and game industry.
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, autonomous vehicles, advanced analytics, big data, 5G – these are the ecosystems that big international enterprises, SME companies and the public operators are building collaboration on. Nowadays, Finland is best known for its world-class technological competence especially in the sectors of health, wellbeing, 5G, autonomous marine transport and virtual technologies. Tekes finances innovation and research companies by almost 500 million euros per year but the notorious Finnish digital competence is luring also foreign investors to join the buzz.
The question is, how this expertise is produced further to services and exported to the world – with a good price tag.
“Artificial intelligence is already being used to support the decision-making of the physicians and the results have been promising. Finland has all the opportunities and expertise to create extremely disruptive digital architecture of health and well-being sector that has global significance. But we need all the Nordic and Baltic countries to join us, to get the sufficient critical mass. Our ecosystem aims to increase the turnover of SMEs of the health industry from the current 750 million to 6 billion by 2025,” Pekka Sivonen, the head of digitalization at Tekes, says.
“Finland has all the opportunities and expertise to create extremely disruptive digital architecture of health and well-being sector that has global significance.”
In addition to decision-making, robotics and automatization can be used for example in customer services or when processing damage reports in insurance companies. Robots are capable of doing both the monotonic and dangerous tasks as well as humane duties like keeping company for senior citizens. Even though some jobs will vanish, there will be more meaningful work to replace the old ones. Also, the supervising of robots is still in the hands of humans.
“Robotics and automatization are already here and tomorrow they will be here even stronger. Everything that can be digitalized will be digitalized. A small country like Finland that has intensity of knowledge in certain fields of business has to invest specifically in the development of high-value-adding products and services but also sales expertise so that the innovations can be brought to the global market.”
Every year, Tekes finances some 1,500 business research and development projects, and almost 600 public research projects at universities, research institutes and universities of applied sciences. Tekes is also part of the Team Finland network, that offers funding and internationalization services for Finnish companies and shares the risks of research and development among those involved.
“The development of technology is faster than ever. Regardless of the size of the company, no one thrives alone. For Finland, the only way to succeed is to collaborate with both small and big organizations and public operators. This is how we can build ecosystems that generate success to different fields of business that in turn bate foreign investments and specialists. We have various kinds of expertise here that there is a lack of in the other parts of the world.”
Tekes organizes also free of charge Reboot Finland D.Day serial events covering Finland´s most significant export industries. D.Day is organized together with CGI, Nokia, Finpro, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and the Technology Industries of Finland.
”D.Day is a new kind of concept, where we offer workshops and presentations about new technologies and solutions. Not only do we offer Finnish companies funding and internationalization services but give the possibility to get advantage of the technology and marketing channels that the big companies organizing the event provide. The spirit of working together and cooperating is increasing fast among Finnish companies.”
Sivonen sees that the tightening competition in the international markets shows that it´s time to start building new, next-generation products that will play by the business rules of the digital era, where sensor technology, big data, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics are intertwined with one another.
One of the Finnish funding agency’s newly launched collaborations is with Rolls-Royce, which recently announced establishing a remote-control, autonomous vessels and artificial intelligence research center in Turku, the activities beginning as early as this year.
“Tekes provides funding for the development of autonomous marine ecosystems. The automatization of marine transport is inevitable and Finland must be the one to pop first in mind when wondering where skills of competence for the marine sector can be found. This case is yet another proof that we have the know-how. And this is just the beginning,” Sivonen states.
Text: Pauliina Toivanen