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Access to global value networks – a two-way street

Kari Häyrinen, President & CEO, Finpro

Over a year has passed from the day Finland’s national investment promotion agency Invest in Finland was merged to Finpro. The main goal was to increase general operational efficiency especially through using Finpro’s global network more for the invest in activities. On the other hand there were many questions and doubts raised by different stakeholder about matching of these mandates. Especially the impact of foreign investments for example by taking either markets or talents from domestic companies was highlighted.

Having the responsibility for both important contributors to Finnish economy I have to say that the mandates have very much the same targets and desired outcomes. There are also some additional synergies that improve the performance of both of those. We are now able to have bigger pool of experts for specific industries with slightly different angle of view. This combination allows us also to better evaluate the real competitiveness of our industries and even individual companies heading to foreign markets. Most of Finpro’s clients are SMEs whose needs evolve very drastically when markets and competition get more global and tougher. More and more the companies are looking for strategic partners or capital beyond our own borders - instead of just clients and distribution channels. Here the know-how and the contacts of invest in team are very valuable.

Foreign direct investments naturally bring in money and sometimes new jobs as well as new competencies to receiving country. These are the factors that are normally measured in the statistics and reviewed by the decision makers. For me the main impact comes from the fact that the foreign investor brings its own - typically very international - value network in the reach of local SMEs. This additional impact is naturally bigger in case of R&D and manufacturing investments than in retail or sales related ones, but is applicable to all the cases one way or the other.

Quick access to these global networks has become more important also in the trade and internationalization discussions. The competition gets more global and players get more numerous - and at the same time the windows of opportunities get narrower.  On top of that the current market stagnation and financial situation of SME companies mean that these companies do not have the time for lengthy internationalization processes. They need to get sales “today or latest next week”. To me it means that our role is moving even further from process experts to become market experts and networking managers. We are more in the business of ‘know-what’ or ‘know-who’ rather than ‘know-how’.

This importance of connections and networks lead me to the topic that I introduced in the previous ETPO meeting in Budapest – Team Finland. The governmental initiative for better coordination of the organizations and activities in Finnish external economic affairs has materialized in forms of a joint Team Finland strategy and country specific action plans between the organizations operating abroad. Next step is to improve the co-operation between the actors also in Finland. The aim of Team Finland is to have all the relevant competencies and contacts more effectively in use of the Finnish companies as well as the foreign investors - without further organizational and structural changes.

Looking forward to networking with you in Vienna.