Finland was a largely agrarian society up until the Second World War, when it transformed itself into a post-industrial society with a strong focus on education and research. Industrialisation began late but the process from primary production to labour and capital-intensive manufacturing and then to a knowledge-based economy has been rapid.
Today Finland ranks among the most competitive economies in the world. The country is highly globalized and foreign trade forms an integral part of the business culture.
In the 1990s, knowledge drove economic growth and transformation and in less than a decade Finland became an ICT (Information and communications technology) specialised economy.
Alongside electronics and high technology, traditional branches of industry have remained. Finland is one of the world’s leading wood producers.
Other than forests, Finland’s natural resources include a number of rock types suitable for industrial purposes.
The largest sector of the Finnish economy is services (65 per cent), followed by manufacturing and refining (31 per cent). Primary production accounts for 3 per cent.
Finland is ranked among the most competitive economies in the world. Finland also continues to occupy top positions in higher education and training surveys, the positive result of the strong focus on education over many decades. This has provided Finland with a workforce with the skills needed to adapt rapidly to a changing environment and has laid the ground for the high levels of technological adoption and innovation. Finland is acclaimed for being one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
Exports account for almost 50 per cent of Finland’s gross domestic product, thus foreign trade is an integral part of the business culture.
Finland’s closest markets are northern continental Europe, the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and the parts of Russia bordering Finland. Finland’s strengths in working with these countries are based on logistics, cultural knowledge, language skills, and experience in venture capital operations. The main trading partners include Russia, Germany, UK, Sweden, China and the Netherlands.
Finland has systematically focused on promoting innovation, through a variety of channels and initiatives, such as a national innovation strategy, technology programmes, and a network of regional science and technology parks. It is among the leading countries globally in terms of R&D spending per capita. Finland is a leading country also in social innovations.
Finnish businesses harness and are pioneers in using new technologies. Finnish engineers and scientists have made an international mark in diverse fields and products. These include numerous products of forestry, engineering, and information and communications technology.
Did you know that Angry Birds come from Finland? The Finnish gaming industry has been growing extensively over the past decade. The main factor behind the success is a strong gaming culture. Playing games is socially acceptable and gaming is becoming an increasingly popular way of spending one’s spare time. Finnish companies are willing to spend to create innovations and the country’s excellent education system and infrastructure has enabled some of the best technology know-how to be found in Finland.
Cleantech refers to all those products, services, processes and technologies that prevent or reduce the impact of harmful actions on the environment.
The Finnish cleantech sector encompasses around 2,000 enterprises. Finnish companies are global leaders in energy efficiency, clean industrial processes and bioenergy, and are strong in areas such as analysis and automation, renewable energy, waste management, water and wastewater treatment, and emissions reduction.