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Release 09.03.2022

Exports picked up despite the second year of the pandemic

Business Finland's customer companies prospered and increased their exports despite the pandemic. This is reflected in Business Finland's results and funding information for 2021. A total of EUR 701 million was granted, of which EUR 561 million went to companies. According to customer estimates, cooperation with Business Finland has generated EUR 800 million in exports to foreign markets in recent years.

Right now, we are living in a time where the effects of war are rattling all of Europe and many other parts of the world.

"We are shocked by the Russian attack on Ukraine and the human distress caused by the war. The conflict also affects our operations, particularly exports, investment and tourism promotion, but also talent attraction activities", says Nina Kopola, Director General of Business Finland.

Business Finland provides support to those companies whose business is affected by the sanctions that have been imposed as a consequence of the war.

"We are now scouting for new, alternative markets for many companies."

Last year was also challenging, but for a different reason. Business Finland's customer companies increased their exports in 2020 and 2021, even though the global pandemic hindered international trade.

"Regardless of their size, all of our customer companies that received funding were able to increase their exports during the pandemic. Of course, detailed export data for the rest of 2021 is not yet available, but according to preliminary data, we can already draw this conclusion."

Business Finland's extensive international network has helped companies in need of export services to plan their export operations and develop their business.

"Our extensive international network with 42 locations worldwide has met with customers more than 7,400 times in the last year. In addition to meetings, we have advised customers more than 4,000 times. Our customers have estimated that Business Finland's cooperation has generated EUR 800 million of their exports to foreign markets."

Business Finland's increased customer satisfaction results from strengthening the foundations of its customer-oriented operating model, which is reflected by the positive trends in the customer loyalty indicator, or the NPS.

The impacts of solutions created with innovation funding will be visible in the coming years

"Last year, we granted EUR 701 million in funding, of which EUR 561 million went to companies. The share of innovation funding in the total funding for companies was EUR 398 million. The funding generated many new or improved products, services, and applications, and their results and impacts will be evident in a few years."

While the export figures for last year were quite positive, the growth of Business Finland's customers' combined RDI investments was smaller than expected, as growth from the previous year was slightly over two percent.

"Given the challenges posed by the pandemic, we can be happy with even a small increase."

Large companies received a 47% share of innovation funding last year. However, 67% of funding granted to leading and ecosystem companies is channeled to SMEs and research organizations through subcontracts. Last year, three new leading companies were financed: Wärtsilä, Nokia, and Tietoevry. Leading companies are committed to increasing their research, development, and innovation activities in Finland by hundreds of millions of euros in total and creating hundreds of new RDI jobs by 2024.

Almost all of the emergency funding projects have already ended. Based on already completed evaluations, the funding has maintained the ability of the beneficiary companies to pay wages.

"Companies that received funds have furloughed and laid off fewer workers and lowered wages less than those without support. For example, Tapijola, a company that manufactures windows in Hankasalmi, was able to hire its staff back to work. The funding allowed the company to bring furloughed workers back to work to improve the soundproofing of the windows."

More reports assessing the impact of emergency funding are expected at a later stage.

Business Finland's role in the Sustainable Growth Program for Finland is substantial

The Sustainable Growth Program for Finland stimulates competitiveness, investment, increased expertise, and RDI. RRF funding, which Business Finland awards, aims to develop innovative solutions for international markets that promote sustainable development and digitalization.

"In 2021, Business Finland granted a total of EUR 74 million in RRF funding. EUR 530 million will be available over the period 2021–2023."

In the summer of 2021, Visit Finland began implementing the RRF travel program included in Finland's Sustainable Growth Program. The program's measures focus on promoting sustainable travel, digitalization, and knowledge management. Sustainable travel was promoted with the Sustainable Travel Finland development program. This program now includes 827 companies that are committed to a model of continuous sustainable development.

Foreign investments create jobs and tax revenue

It is also worthwhile to note the importance of investments in Finland. Foreign direct investments (FDI) are an important part of Finland's economic growth and development.

"Only around one percent of the companies operating in Finland are foreign-owned, but they employ around 300,000 people, or one-fifth of private-sector employees."

Last year, Invest in Finland's 40 customers invested more than EUR 160 million in Finland, and they created 609 new direct jobs to Finland. One-third of the investment decisions made through Invest in Finland were related to expanding business operations in Finland. Especially during the pandemic, the importance of further investment in the Finnish economy is emphasized, as new investors often postpone their investment decisions under uncertain circumstances.


Interview requests

Miia Linnusmaa
Communications Manager, Business Finland
+358 50 5577 958
miia.linnusmaa (at)

Business Finland is the Finnish government organization for innovation funding and trade, travel and investment promotion. Business Finland’s over 700 experts work in over 40 offices globally and in 16 regional offices around Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.