Pekka Soini: Extreme innovations stem from courage

Innovation and the creation of new require courage, sometimes even a daredevil approach.

Finnish companies are not lacking in courage, and this is something we have wanted to stress at Tekes.

We have brought together a group of growing Finnish companies going international with the Dudesons. Meanwhile in Finland video serie is a story of how the world can – and should – be viewed in a new way.

The first video has now been published.

For years, the Dudesons have been showing the international public Finnish stories about courage. In this video series they test, in their unique way, Finnish innovations to which Tekes has contributed. What these companies and the Dudesons have in common is that they do things fearlessly.

Finland has fantastic success stories about cleantech, digitalisation, health and cooperation between companies and research organisations. And Finland has all the prerequisites to become the world's best environment for innovation and testing. By relating these fearless experiments, we hope to encourage all Finns to take brave steps on the path to new things. By doing this, we will make the world see what a pioneering and attractive country Finland is. Finland is a place where you should come to develop and test new ideas.

Courage also means taking risks, and Tekes will shoulder some of it with those who dare to try something new. The fact that we focused on the innovation activities of SMEs was reflected in the form of promising turnover and export increase expectations last year. In the coming years, SMEs expect a turnover of EUR 9.4 billion in the target year from projects begun in 2016, which is an ambitious target.

But courage also requires an atmosphere of support to bring results. We need incentives for internationalisation, renewal and risk-taking. Innovation activities lost a third of their funding in 2016 following a Government cut to Tekes' funding authorisation. The effects are clear and will become even more evident in 2017. In the longer term, less research funding will create less new expertise and thereby reduce the chances for radical reform and breakthroughs. More than 80% of Tekes customers that have been successful in their innovation activities say that Tekes funding was a key part of their success.

Finland needs more and more brave initiatives, but they are hard to realise without the necessary support.

Pekka Soini, Director General of Tekes
Twitter: @psoini

This blog was first published in the Tekniikka & Talous magazine