Business Finland, in a strategic move to bolster the nation's competitive edge and sustainable growth, allocated a total of €726 million in funding last year, with a substantial €416 million earmarked specifically for innovation. This substantial investment reflects Finland's commitment to fostering a thriving environment for groundbreaking ideas and technologies.
Of the total funding, €599 million was directly granted to businesses, highlighting the country's focus on nurturing corporate innovation.
Additionally, research initiatives received €127 million, underlining the importance of research and development in driving forward national progress.
Nina Kopola, Director General of Business Finland, emphasized the vital role of innovation funding in creating competitive advantages for Finland. "Productivity growth, a key issue for our nation, springs from new ventures and the commercialization of innovations by companies. Success is born at the intersection of insightful product and service ideas and growing markets," she stated.
According to Kopola, companies benefiting from research, development, and innovation funding tend to invest more of their own capital. During 2021-2022, these companies doubled their R&D investments (16.4%) compared to the general growth rate (5.9%). This trend was also consistent in the previous year.
In a significant development, Nokia Solutions and Networks received the largest portion of innovation funding last year, totaling €48.9 million. This funding concluded a flagship project involving 120 partners, with total investments in R&D activities surpassing €200 million over 2020-2023.
A notable initiative has been the Deep Tech funding pilot launched last year by Business Finland. This program, which allocated nearly €7 million to 17 startups, aims to accelerate the commercialization of research findings in the Deep Tech sector. Deep Tech startups, with their potential to revolutionize entire industries, are crucial in addressing societal challenges like climate change and cybersecurity threats.
Despite challenging global trade conditions, Finnish companies, especially startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have shown resilience in exports. Risto Vuohelainen, Director in charge of export promotion services at Business Finland, reported that exports from previously funded startups, particularly the top performers, have reached up to €2 billion. SME exports have grown steadily, accounting for about 25% of total exports. Vuohelainen also highlighted the importance of expanding into new, growing markets as traditional markets may show declining trends.
In addition to direct funding, Business Finland's systematic two-year export promotion projects have generated hundreds of millions of euros in new sales and over two billion euros in business opportunities. These projects, involving 215 Finnish companies, focused on areas like low-carbon construction in Europe, port investments in the USA, and the digitalization of public services in South America. The companies utilized various services, including 29 delegation visits to target markets and other Team Finland network services.
Vuohelainen sums up the effort: “We work tirelessly across our global network of 38 offices to provide Finnish companies with the best possible conditions for international business growth.”
In 2023, Business Finland granted a significant €321.9 million in innovation funding to the Uusimaa region, spread across 652 different projects. This investment underscores the region's role as a hub of innovation and technological advancement in Finland.