The Sustainable Manufacturing Finland program is Business Finland's first investment in the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector for almost a decade. I have received many inquiries about the program, even before the official launch. The level of interest signals that there are many companies motivated by renewal, and that they will benefit from the program in many ways. The program is driven by the needs of the manufacturing industry, within the wider context of the challenges posed by climate change and the productivity challenge that is holding back the Finnish economy as a whole.
Manufacturing is one of the most important engines of the Finnish economy, generating 28% of GDP, over half of the exports and employing about one-third of the workforce. The focus of the four-year program is therefore particularly significant, and its results are expected to be far-reaching.
The process of renewing productivity factors is also a great opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacturing industry. Improving economic sustainability should also improve environmental sustainability. Just to give an example, increasing production efficiency through Lean knowledge-based management and digitalization enables improvements in both industrial productivity and energy efficiency at the same time.
I am certain that the industry ecosystems strengthened by the program will create new solutions and technologies to tackle climate change, while also creating new export opportunities for businesses. Innovations, renewal, turning solutions into competitive products, and bringing the products to the global marketplace – these are the core elements of the new program.
Of course, Finland already has industrial companies that are successfully competing in the international markets, but we want to support Finnish companies to climb higher in the global value chains. However, the services of the new program will perhaps be most valuable to those companies that operate in the subcontracting chains and ecosystems built around the biggest companies.
The program will activate companies' R&D efforts with the aim of boosting productivity. In particular, we strive to build European cooperation and encourage companies to use the available European financial instruments. The approach is therefore ecosystemic: building networks and accelerating learning are the priorities. I believe that we can achieve our goals more effectively when companies, research institutes and universities share ideas and develop new things together.
The principle of cooperation also applies to export activities and the promotion of foreign investment. Business Finland helps companies to find international partnerships while also looking for foreign actors that are useful for the development of the Finnish ecosystem.
The first focus areas of the program will be non-road mobile machinery, electronics manufacturing (including optoelectronics and photo electronics), and digitalization solutions (such as factory automation, robotics, information systems and better utilization of data throughout the value chain). According to messages from the field, many companies are experiencing difficulties in finding skilled workers. The program will therefore also take measures designed to attract more skilled foreign labour to Finland, ranging from factory floor staff to supervisors and managers.
During the next four years, we are ready to expand the program according to the needs and demand coming from businesses. I warmly welcome all companies in the manufacturing sector to join in the productivity leap and to take full advantage of the services offered by the new program.
Sustainable Manufacturing Finland Prograam Launch on 3 March, 2020. Welcometo the Webinar at 1 p.m.