In June our Swedish colleagues made great play out of their national day on this blog. While it is all well and good to make hay while the sun shines, it takes real character to celebrate your independence in the coldest and darkest of seasons.
Finland gained its independence from Russia on this day in 1917. But to most Finns nowadays it is more about the televised ball at the Presidential Palace, gingerbread biscuits and remembering the Second World War.
The latter explains why for all the glitz and glamour of the presidential reception there is a solemn undercurrent to the celebrations that might seem at odds with those of other countries. However, just like our more Swedish cousins, we also have more than one reason to shout a little louder.
Thousands actually. Big and small. Whether or not it is a product of our national mindset – Finns have a reputation for being stubborn, although we’d say independent-minded – Finland is a hotbed of innovation. It is no coincidence that Slush, the world’s leading tech start-up event for entrepreneurs and investors, was founded here. There are also countless smaller, community-led projects such as the volunteer-run Sompasauna, which has caught the wider imagination by reinventing the public sauna.
In fact even though some people only associate Finland with the timber trade and Nokia, there is no shortage of innovative companies deserving of recognition. Take Rapala VMC Corporation, the world’s market leader in fishing lures. Or how about Gold & Green Foods, whose high protein “pulled oats” are a delicious and sustainable option to meat.
The list goes on: Insta, a family business from Tampere, for its life-saving geo-information to emergency response centres; Beddit for a sleep tracker that offers fascinating insight into your sleeping patterns and health; Relex Solutions, Europe’s fastest growing provider of integrated retail and supply chain planning solutions, for helping companies sell more and waste less.
No wonder Finland is also home to a thriving start-up scene. Hugely successful gaming companies such as Rovio and Supercell are proof of a climate in which businesses can emerge and prosper. And every year thousands of R&D projects are financed by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.
Next year is the centenary of Finnish independence. Our history is full of victories and losses, and of course that should be recognized and respected, but we also have a bright future ahead of us – one that should be celebrated.
– Henri Peltotupa
Country Manager Finland, Arvato Financial Solutions