Finnish National Innovation System – what can we learn?

Writen by: Jakub Jarosz

Published on November 21, 2020

5 min read

Photo of Turku

According to the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index, countries from northern Europe are among the Most Innovative Nations in the world. That is why Polish companies and organizations are increasingly eager to look for business partners and opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience. Why is Scandinavia such an interesting place for doing business?

Let us look at some statistics, in Poland we have over 430 thousand people working in the ICT industry, estimated growth in employment of IT specialists rate is 6% a year (of course Covid19 will slightly change those data). We have a few quite good technical universities and a startup scene is flourishing especially in Warsaw and Wroclaw. Cities like Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan and Gdansk are at the forefront of digital transformation, industry 4.0 and smart city projects development. But as it comes to mention ratings, Poland is on the 25th place (according to the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index). When we look at the first 10 countries we will find Sweden (5th), Finland (7th), Denmark (8th). We are missing only Norway which is still 8 points ahead of Poland. Why is it important you may ask? One of the reasons is that with such a potential in the number of IT specialists, students and companies we still need to work a lot to land in the first 10 of the Innovation Index.

Graphic of Turku
Turku, Finland.

What can we learn from Finland?

In the past, Finland was famous for its wood industry. But starting from the beginning of 90. NOKIA became the country’s most recognisable brand, the company that has revolutionized the way we use mobile phones. But NOKIA is only an example of what the Finnish authorities did to promote education, cooperation and innovation. A large number of funds was allocated to the development of many innovative companies. But not only technology was a factor of country development. Among others, various types of services based on expertise and new operational models for companies were introduced. It was also an opportunity for development in the field of economics, business, culture, health and social sciences. All these efforts brought Finland to a point where a whole system was introduced, which  is called a Finnish National Innovation System.


ITCorner GoGlobal project.

How does it work in general?

Among others, due to the high cost of labour, Finland has decided to focus on technology development which required significant investment in R&D and good cooperation between the public and private sector. It led to a situation where the private sector employs almost half of the country’s scientists. Commercialization of research results and technology transfer from academic centers to business are the main factors determining the potential and strength of the knowledge-based economy today. Therefore, the innovation policy in Finland is a part of the economic policy, effectively using the instruments available in the field of public administration to create an innovation-friendly ecosystem.

How can we use this knowledge in practice?

It is a long walk, but an organization like ITCorner can help to connect the dots between Polish and Finnish industries, companies, experts and clusters. In 2019 ITCorner made the first step towards this kind of innovation and knowledge transfer by establishing a cooperation with the Turku Business Region. In 2020 ITCorner in association with Turku Science Park and Interizon (ICT cluster from Pomerania) has started a new project – the European ICT Alliance, a platform for transfer of knowledge and innovation, alongside business cooperation.

In the Turku Business Region we have a good history of collaboration with Polish companies and organisations from the Pomerania Region (ex. Interizon, Invest in Gdańsk). From this year we extended this cooperation to Wrocław and ITCorner. This is how the idea of European ICT Alliance came into existence. At the moment we are working on a roadmap for the platform of exchange of business experience and technical cooperation between the Finnish and Polish organisations. The next step is to create a mutual website where we can network businesses and experts from over 300 companies from both countries. The main goals will be: 

  • to create smaller and more focused networks within the alliance, e.g. around Industry 4.0, smart & wise cities, maritime
  • to generate business for the companies in the network
  • to create a strong culture of cooperation to channel large interesting and international projects
  • to attract strong and talented workforce
  • to help startups and growing companies 

– explains Michael ”Micce” Lindholm,  Network Manager, Turku Science Park Ltd

Prospects for 2021

The upcoming year is still a great unknown in terms of Covid19 situation. Most likely we are going to face a year of hybrid cooperation, a mix of online and offline events depending on the level of a pandemic threat. Nevertheless, business will find a way to solve this problem especially when it comes to innovative industries. In ITCorner we believe that it will be a year of exchange of knowledge and stronger cooperation with our Finnish partners. There is still a lot to learn from each other.


A public task co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the competition “Public Diplomacy 2020 – a new dimension”.

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