Finland’s leading corporations respond to the COVID-19 crisis: preparations for billion-euro investments in digitalization and green transition


Prominent Finnish companies have joined forces to increase their lead in digitalization and the green economy. Their shared vision and innovative cooperation aim to pave the way to billion-euro investments in the digital customer and service experience, industrial processes, productivity, remote work, and climate solutions. Business leaders believe that Finland needs to seize the moment: now is the time for digital investments and public innovation funding. Investments will pay themselves off many times over in the form of economic growth, jobs and exports.

The cooperation was launched at the initiative of Pekka Lundmark while he was the CEO of Fortum. Lundmark is now the CEO of Nokia Corporation and Chairman of the Board of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK). In addition to Nokia, the cooperation also involves the following companies: ABB, Cargotec, Finnair, Fortum, Konecranes, Kreab, Neste, OP Financial Group, Varusteleka, VTT, and Wärtsilä. Together, they have outlined a digital vision for the future and prepared significant investments. Increased public innovation funding would enable investments in a wide range of areas. These include, but are not limited to: world-class customer experience, climate neutral industry and transport, remote industrial operations in the 5G environment and autonomous maritime logistics. In addition, cyber security for remote operations, as well as digital work and leadership, would also benefit from funding. Furthermore, analyses were carried out to investigate the impact on business and change in customer expectations in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to an acceleration of digitalization around the world, which in turn is profoundly transforming the markets and business models. Furthermore, it is helping to increase productivity and accelerate value creation for customers. Consumer behaviour will change in a significant and permanent way. This is why we have to act quickly with digitalization and service development in order to meet increasing demand and consumer expectations. Finnish companies have the opportunity to develop unique, scalable services and to create a global competitive advantage.

Now is the time to act and move forward. We must not see the COVID-19 crisis as reason to wait for ’better times’ or ’return to normal’. Market shares are being re-distributed in a manner not seen for decades. It is vital that Finland secures the best possible position in this historic market transformation.

It is in our common interest for Finland to seize new and emerging opportunities, says Timo Ritakallio, President and Group CEO of the OP Financial Group:
”The COVID-19 pandemic showed how digital solutions help to ensure the secure and easy availability of services even in extreme circumstances. This is the time to further accelerate digitalization – and to do it through cooperation between all companies and in society as a whole”.

Digitalization, climate solutions and sustainability are closely linked, stresses Peter Vanacker, President and CEO of the Neste Corporation:
“There is not only room for all of the alternative solutions – there is a gigantic need for them. At Neste, digitalization is an important enabler, such as in increasing energy efficiency in production and enhancing sustainable supply chain management of our low-carbon solutions.”

The best innovations are often created under pressure, says Topi Manner, CEO of Finnair:
”Investing in digital development is essential for improving Finland’s competitiveness. This also applies to service industries. Human interaction continues to be vital, but it needs to be supported by innovative technology.”

Finland’s Government Budget 2021 is crucial – financing is needed for AI, digitalization and Business Finland

While companies are doing their part, corresponding public investments are needed from the Finnish Government, Taina Susiluoto, Director of EK, points out:

”Now is the time for Finland to invest in future economic growth. Substantial innovation funding is required from the Government Budget Session this September. Our aim is for Business Finland’s ”Veturiyritys” programme (a challenge competition for leading companies) to receive EUR 100 million in funding. The Artificial Intelligence 4.0 programme requires EUR 40 million, and the Digital Leap programme requires EUR 20 million. In addition to industry, the trade, finance and service sectors must also be considered.”

It is, however, equally important, that the EU recovery funding allocated to Finland is used to advance digitalization and green transition, emphasises Susiluoto.

Summary of  the results of the Digital Game Changers.
PowerPoint presentation of the results.