Years of persistent work has made Canadians aware of Finnish smart energy competence, and Canada is now watching Finland closely. The giant energy markets in North America have a growing number of opportunities open for Finnish companies.
The groundwork to open the Canadian markets for a larger group of Finnish companies started approximately five years ago. Finpro’s Smart Energy program carried out comprehensive surveys of the world’s energy markets to study a number of questions: where are markets growing, what kind of a change are societies going through, how do the industry’s value chains operate, for what kind of services will there be room and who has the willingness to look for solutions together with Finns. The study was analyzed together with Finnish companies, and Canada was selected as one of the target markets.
“We have done so much work during the years,” explains Helena Sarén, Head of the Smart Energy program. “Our aim was goal-oriented progress with the purpose of bringing business to Finland. In Finland, we helped companies get ready for exports and trained them in how to finance exports and investments, understand the Canadian supply channels and pitch for this market. In Canada, we went deep into the market: we dug out business opportunities and sought out contacts and influencers.”
“We built partnerships and aimed to impact the development of suitable legislation on a political level. There were several visits in both directions: We brought Canadian buyers to Finland to see the solutions we use and took Finnish companies to Canada to meet with potential partners. The visits have varied in nature: smaller visits with the purpose of surveying the markets and potential projects, the program’s own company visits as well as Team Finland delegations. We need all of them in the different phases of the development.”
The work has been successful. We have found new partners, and projects are being created. We have identified approximately 40 leads, 10 of which are in a good phase. We have already started several energy initiatives related to the side flows of the forest industry, for example, bioheat initiatives with a local employing impact, development initiatives for energy production in mining and cement industries, waste utilization initiatives and initiatives related to the use of wood with a low value that utilizes Finnish forestry competence.
Toronto’s Green Cluster participation in the Helsinki Energy Challenge sparked an interesting cooperation. At best, the cluster can offer Finnish companies an excellent partner network and a shared offering for the North American markets. Canadian companies can also complement the offering of Finnish companies in the EU markets, particularly in Eastern Europe. We will organize a preparatory and introductory event on April 20–21, 2021 under the theme of “Decarbonizing heating and cooling in cities” with the Toronto network.
In 2019, Business Finland opened an office in Toronto with the purpose of speeding up the utilization of opportunities. Seppo Tossavainen works at the office to assist Finnish companies in the energy sector. “It is extremely important to be there, on the actual marketplace, to know the business environment and maintain contacts,” Seppo explains. “Through persistent work, we have managed to make the industry interested in Finland. We are now known as a partner with interesting solutions, and collaboration is being created in many areas.”
“Canada has realized that it is approximately 15 years behind Finland in these solutions, and they want to learn from us.
Finnish energy-related companies should take a serious look at the Canadian market. There is demand for solutions related to renewable energy sources, energy production, biotechnology and transport fuel in the significant Canadian mining, maritime and forestry industries. The COVID‑19 pandemic has accelerated the industry’s revolution and digitalization.
“The change has created possibilities that we are now monitoring closely and in which Finland would have outstanding opportunities. With COVID‑19, Canadians are now wanting to move from apartments to wooden houses. This creates opportunities within bioeconomy and wooden construction, among other things,” Seppo summarizes.
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