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Release 20.12.2021

Foreign businesses boost research and product development

Picture: FIMM, University of Helsinki

Finland’s national target for investments in research, development, and innovation is 4% of GDP by 2030. According to Invest in Finland, which promotes foreign investment in Finland, only a productivity increase through innovation can restart the growth of the Finnish economy. Foreign enterprises are an essential factor in achieving Finland’s objectives, as they accounted for nearly one-third of corporate RDI investments in 2020.

The Finnish government has set a national target of increasing RDI investments to 4% of GDP, but this cannot be achieved without a significant increase in business and public sector investments.

– Part of the RDI money comes from the public sector and Finnish companies, but they alone cannot increase Finland's RDI investments to 4%. Consequently, economic growth needs a boost from foreign businesses. When foreign businesses invest in Finnish RDI activities, they use Finnish employees and develop Finnish expertise. It is important that the public sector creates an environment that encourages research cooperation, says Antti Aumo, executive director of Invest in Finland.

The Global Competitiveness Report has ranked Finland number one as an "enabler of future markets" in areas requiring public-private cooperation while also ranking Finland among the top three for countries for collaborative research*. Foreign companies play a major role in university-enterprise research cooperation, and this gives Finnish universities more resources and international contacts.

University collaboration in genomics and antenna technology

Cooperation between universities and companies includes, for example, co-development aimed at new innovations, commissioned research utilizing research expertise and infrastructure, and the utilization in business of inventions and know-how generated by academic research. There are already numerous examples of research cooperation between foreign companies in Finland.

The main objective of the FinnGen joint research project between the public sector and the pharmaceutical industry is to improve understanding of disease mechanisms by combining genomics and health information. What makes the project unique is its scale, ambitious objectives and financial basis, with the participation of numerous international pharmaceutical companies. The responsible organization for the project is the University of Helsinki.

– The total budget of the FinnGen project is over EUR 90 million, of which EUR 20 million comes from Business Finland and the remaining amount from twelve international pharmaceutical companies: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene/Bristol-Myers Scibb, Genentech, GSK, Janssen, Maze Therapeutics, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim, Aumo sums up.

Aalto University and the Swedish company Saab started cooperation in 2018 with Saab investing EUR 20 million. This cooperation has already led to the launch of 10 doctorate level research projects in the fields of antenna technology, microelectronics, digital signal processing, artificial intelligence, hydroacoustics, and quantum technology. The research projects have produced dozens of scientific publications and several patent applications.

– Businesses can use university research and the latest know-how to develop their innovations and products. Universities and research institutes, such as VTT, are able to keep up with the latest trends in the market and also strengthen their own expertise. Scientific cooperation contributes to the objectives of both parties as cooperation with companies enables taking new research findings forward rapidly if necessary. The commercialization of research has been the Achilles heel of Finland, and the international sales network and customer contacts of a foreign company are a fast lane to the global conquest of Finnish expertise, Aumo says.

Global Competitiveness Report 2020 | World Economic Forum (
WIPO Global Innovation Index 2020 fi.pdf (
Statistics Finland

Additional information for the media:

Antti Aumo, Head of Invest in Finland. Invest in Finland | Business Finland
antti.aumo (at) 040 505 0477

Heli Hemgård, Communications Manager. Finland Promotion Services | Business Finland
heli.hemgard (at) 040 901 5219

Invest in Finland helps foreign companies identify business opportunities in Finland, produces information on Finland as an investment destination, and enhances and coordinates national efforts to attract investment by actively networking with regional and international entities. Invest in Finland also collects and updates information about foreign-owned companies in Finland. Invest in Finland is part of Business Finland.

Business Finland is a Finnish public organization that provides innovation funding and internationalization services. It also promotes Finland as a travel and investment destination. The organization employs 750 advisers at approximately 40 locations world-wide and 16 locations in Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.