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on Finland

THE TAKE OFF! Sensotrend and its fellow start-ups are about to take the markets by storm


The Romantic Professor

and other characters from Finnish literature

T for Teacher, E for Equality

Educating children the Finnish way

ISSN 2342-0170

Solutions for a healthier planet

2 We make it


By Terhi Rauhala Photo Sampo Korhonen

Picture November in Helsinki: daylight lasts six hours, and many days are cloudy and rainy. It’s cold, but there is rarely any snow on the ground to amplify the faint rays of sunlight. It is the darkest month of the year. In contrast, during midsummer the Finns are blessed with light: the sun stays above the horizon 24 hours a day.


Rays of joy The darkest time of the year is a source of inspiration for the brightest, most colourful and positive brand. “Our designers say that the polar nights are the reason for Marimekko’s bright appearance, playful design and positive spirit. In the midst of November, grey is the last colour you want to wear,” smiles Mika Ihamuotila, the President and CEO of Marimekko, an iconic Finnish design house with over 60 years of history. “We believe that beautiful design and aesthetics affect people’s emotions and can make them happy.” Mika Ihamuotila cherishes the idiom precious to Finnish people. His Marimekko is robust and full of life, conquering the hearts of design lovers all over the world. He has found the brand’s cutting edge in its Finnish roots: genuine character and originality. “Living, not pretending, is at the heart of the Marimekko spirit. We design our products to reflect functionality, simplicity and joy. We want to encourage people to show their true self,” says Ihamuotila. The brand’s ideology seems certainly to resonate globally: there are more than 130 Marimekko shops around the world. Why the bike, then? Well, Mr. Ihamuotila is an avid cyclist and doesn’t hesitate to hop on a bike even during the winter months. Cycling to the office is fast and feasible in Helsinki all year round.

Gear: The bike – fresh from the manufacturer in the heart of Helsinki – is a Pelago Stavanger 365 Disc, especially designed for cycling in the city. The sweater is Marimekko’s Sasha from the winter collection 2013. Pure 100% wool keeps you warm.

*ON chair by internationally recognised Finnish designer Tapio Anttila, represents functionality which considers aesthetic, ecological, ethical and usability perspectives. The manufacturing process, for example, produces no mixed waste. It is also a testimonial to the high quality of Finnish woodwork.

4 About the Magazine Focus on Finland is available in English, Chinese, German, Russian and Spanish. To read the magazine online or order free paper copies, please visit the Focus website at For paper copies you can also contact the nearest Finnish embassy.

EDITORIAL Erkki Virtanen Permanent Secretary Ministry of Employment and the Economy


Editor-in-Chief Nicola Lindertz Editorial Board Minna Hakaoja,

Mika Hammarén, Markus Kokko, Jyri Lintunen, Mervi Liukkonen, Peter Marten, Sari Tuori Editorial Staff Otavamedia Customer Communications Producers Terhi Rauhala, Maarit Niemelä Layout Design Linda Halenius English Editor Nouveau Language Cover Photograph by Laura Vesa Printed by Erweko Oy Publishers:

Finns make it work

Ministry for Foreign Affairs Ministry of

Employment and the Economy Sitra Invest in Finland Finnfacts ISSN 2342-0170

Stories illuminated This magazine is printed on Finnish LumiSilk - a woodfree, multicoated silk paper. It is made of virgin wood fibre from Finnish woods and produced in StoraEnso’s Oulu mill in northern Finland. LumiSilk has PEFC certificate and fulfils the Nordic Swan criteria.


Functionality is at the core of Finnish thinking. It shapes everyday life in our society, is behind the will to get things done, and helps find innovative solutions to overcome problems. We’ve always had to use our heads rather than fossil fuels to keep our houses warm, to cope with long distances, or to sustain the competitiveness of our economy. Our climate and natural resources (or lack thereof) have been the driver. Today Finland is leading the way in cleantech solutions. We are committed to being a carbon neutral society by 2050, which furthers innovation in the fields of energy efficiency, biotechnology and renewables. The same spirit of perseverance and resourcefulness can be seen in the thriving start-up field. The Finnish economy is

facing a fundamental structural change, but young companies ride on top of that wave, turning change into an opportunity – not clinging to the past, but looking at future global markets. In fact, Helsinki has gained attention as one of the most prominent start-up cities in Europe, attracting investments and talent. Finland was recently ranked eighth in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain. We take pride in our educational system, which encourages creativity and entrepreneurship. We do make it work. So if you have a problem, look for a Finn. You may consider it solved.

he makes it work

picture this Our map on page 14 was drawn by Pietari Posti, a renowned Finnish illustrator. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian and even in a series of stamps released by the Finnish Post, to name a few. Recently Posti was awarded for the Best Book Cover Illustration in the V&A Illustration awards 2013.

Pietari Posti redesigned book covers for Arthur Ransome´s classic book series Swallows & Amazons.



on Finland

2014 6

Rethinking the library Helsinki University Library’s lofty new building Kaisa: an environment to support learning and working.

Why Finland?


Innovative minds at work

9 Great expectations Sensotrend − making sense of diabetes and its treatment.


10 Anatomy of a deal Huawei opted for Finnish technology know-how.

knowledge driven

T for Teacher, E for Equality What can be learned from educating children the Finnish way? 35 Exporting educational expertise FCG Finnish Consulting Group exports Finnish educational know-how.

Meet & Greet Finland

Run into a Finn

See when and where.


keep it SHOrt The hottest mobile solutions, highest elevators and sci-fi Skulle Implants. In a nutshell.


All eyes are turned on Finland for the coolest investment opportunities.


DESIGNing services


36 Small children. Big thinking! What would a society run by children be like? Well, step into MyCity.

Solutions For a healthier planet

37 What if learning was fun? Let’s play!

Land of blue green See why Finnish companies are global leaders in clean technologies.


16 Biofuel boom Finnish biofuel producers are driven by ambitious targets.

A gem in the world’s treasure chest

18 Cleantech for the world Solving environmental problems from Beijing to Delhi. 16


Finnish by nature

One of the seven Finnish Unesco World Heritage Sites is the Kvarken Archipelago.

The Social Context

An enchanting blog In spite of what you might have heard, we are social.


In Touch

Moments from Finnish Literature Get acquainted with the Romantic Professor and other characters in the Finnish literary scene.



6 Why finland By Terhi Rauhala Photo Laura Vesa

The Friday Crackdown kicks off at an open

innovation community of the New Factory innovation centre in the city of Tampere, some 150 km north of Helsinki. It’s a peer-to-peer session where start-up teams meet to review their past two weeks and shed light on what they will do during the next two. ”Is there something the other teams could do for you? Sign up to your service maybe?” asks the host of the event, Start-up Facilitator Kimmo Rouhiainen, encouraging the teams to use each other’s knowledge. “The community and open innovation environment is vital,” explains Rouhiainen. “Teams test each other’s ideas and prototypes, and share knowledge and networks. The next big innovations in technology will be built within the context of co-working – they will not be made in isolation.” More on New Factory and other business incubators on the next spread!


Innovative Minds at Work

8 Why finland By Terhi Rauhala Photos Startup Sauna and Slushmedia / Jussi Hellsten

“availability of talent is key” Science and businesses come together in university-based start-up hubs.

ew Factory represents everything that is so right in the Finnish startup and entrepreneurial scene at the moment. Skilled people find themselves inspired by the success stories of Rovio and Supercell and the boldness of Jolla. The know-how and experience released from Nokia, for example, is facilitating, leading and coaching the young generation of innovative minds to reach their potential – and beyond. “At the same time there is patient public funding available for R&D and excellent co-operation between the academic and business worlds,” adds Jukka Matikainen, director of New Factory business


incubation centre, which has its roots in the Tampere University of Technology. The infrastructure is in place and the numbers of entrepreneurs and growth companies are increasing at a record pace. The amount of tech start-ups based in the Finnish capital Helsinki alone is more than 300. “Finland can also boast about a culture of trust. In the innovation phase this is important: agility, flexibility, low hierarchy, reliability. You cannot be writing NDAs every step of the way; it makes the process far too rigid,” Matikainen says. And then there’s the mindset. “Finnish mentality at work is very selfguiding. We don’t try to humour the boss first, but to get things done,” Matikainen states approvingly.

They make it work

Pitch until you freeze – literally

Heat it up in Startup Sauna

The buzzing seaside city of Oulu in northern Finland is a renowned higher education hub with outspoken people and skilled engineers on every corner. Business Kitchen, the local universities’ entrepreneurship hub, is located right in the city centre with their own co-working space. Inside, academic expertise is mixed with business ideas and entrepreneurs to enable the growth of companies. To add flavour, the amplification of entrepreneurial orientation among university staff and students is on the menu too. Keep an eye on their pitching events: Polar Bear Pitching ( 7 February, 2014) and Midnight Pitchfest (12–13 June, 2014).

You can find a steam room of its own caliber on Aalto University’s campus in Espoo, Finland. It’s where Startup Sauna’s co-working space hosts its five-week accelerator programmes for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs from Northern and Eastern Europe and Russia. The innovation driven teams work extremely hard, living and working on campus, while being coached by very experienced people. “Startup Sauna is something very simple and beautiful – we connect great start-ups with people who can truly help them forward,” says Juho Kokkola, Head of Operations at Startup Sauna.

The most widely known Startup Sauna event is Slush, one of the largest start-up events in the world, held annually in the Finnish capital Helsinki. In 2013 Slush gathered more than 5,000 attendees, over 60 billion US dollars worth of venture capital and much of the world’s top media.

meet a start-up


From diabetics to diabetics. Mikael Rinnetmäki (right) and Timo Koukkari (middle) are both type 1 diabetics. Together they contribute to the technical implementation of the service. Assi Rinnetmäki (left) completes Sensotrend’s team of three, taking care of communications and marketing as well as administration. Photo Laura Vesa

Great Expectations Frustration turned into an application to help millions of diabetics. Currently, the disease swallows 11% of the world’s total health expenditure. “For a diabetic it’s vital to monitor one’s lifestyle closely: the level of physical activity, blood glucose levels, amount of carbohydrates eaten, and so on. We want to make it simpler – to make staying healthy simpler,” explains Mikael Rinnetmäki, founder of Sensotrend and himself a Type 1 diabetic. “There are plenty of modern apps and devices that make collecting data about your daily activities easy, fun, or fully automatic. Our application brings all this data together and visualises it in a way that helps people with diabetes, and their healthcare professionals, make adjustments to the treatment plan,” says Rinnetmäki. The whole idea of an automated diabetes diary originated from personal experience: “I felt frustrated when trying to keep logbooks to track all the factors that affect my blood sugar level”. Astounding market potential

Sensotrend aims at a market that is about to explode. There are 382 million diagnosed diabetics worldwide. The amount is predicted to

Sensotrend is an early stage startup, set up in the New Factory business incubation centre. Their solution is being developed within the Finnish Taltioni cooperative, a health information platform and open ecosystem for health and well-being service providers. Parts of the diabetes app’s code are openly shared. “We want to be agile and inspire others to take part in refining our application,” states Mikael Rinnetmäki.

grow by more than 50% by the year 2035. The cost for treating diabetes, including all the adjuvant illnesses, consumes 11% of the world’s total health expenditure. The first prototype of the diabetes diary is now ready and the beta-version will be launched for test users during the spring. The company aims to pilot it in the healthcare sector during 2014. There’s no rush, though. “With betausers all changes to the product are easy to do. Once it’s on the market, everything gets much more complicated.” One milestone for the team was Slush 2013, where Sensotrend launched their product. It gave them some much needed publicity. The team also met investors and made lots of good contacts. “Our expectations are high. We’ve got people talking,” Rinnetmäki smiles.

“The cost for treating diabetes consumes 11% of the world’s total health expenditure.”

10 Why finland By Leena Koskenlaakso Photo Karoliina Paavilainen

ANATOMY OF A DEAL Huawei chose Finland as a location for its R&D centre because of Finnish mobile technology expertise and ease of cooperation with Finnish research organizations. Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, established a research and development centre in Helsinki, the Finnish capital, in 2012. The strategic long-term investment amounts to 70 million euros over a five-year period, and the company aims to recruit up to 100 employees by 2017. Mobile know-how and competent professionals

“The reason why we chose Finland was the high level of Finnish mobile technology know-how. Just as important was the availability of competent ICT professionals with extensive

Mikko Terho (left) discussing the graphics of future user interfaces with designer Panu Johansson at the Huawei office in Helsinki.

experience in mobile software development,” says Mikko Terho, site manager of the Finnish R&D centre and CTO of Huawei’s mobile software business. “The Finnish R&D centre will focus on developing mobile technologies. The fact that there is an ample supply of local talent we can recruit either on a permanent basis or as subcontractors was the decisive factor for the investment decision.” Globally, Huawei employs more than 70,000 people engaged in R&D. Huawei has a total of 13 R&D sites across Europe. Open and inclusive R&D environment

The openness of the Finnish research and development environment was regarded as a big plus.


Smooth and flexible research collaboration

“Another major reason for choosing Finland was the smoothness of making research contracts with Finnish universities and research organisations, such as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland,” Terho points out. “All Finnish universities and research units have a very positive attitude towards research collaboration, and research contracts are made according to Finnish law. Finnish university professors and faculties have cordially invited us to see their research facilities, resulting in good feedback from our Chinese colleagues.”

“All Finnish universities and research units have a very positive attitude towards research collaboration.” Huawei has ongoing research projects with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and negotiations are under way with several Finnish universities. “Finnish support organisations such as Greater Helsinki Promotion, China Finland Golden Bridge Innovation Center, and Tredea, actively introduced us to Finnish ICT opportunities and premises”, Terho says. Good flight connections and security of life

Practical matters such as good flight connections between Helsinki and several Asian destinations played a significant role, too. “The feeling of security about living and working in Finland is also highly regarded by our non-Finnish employees,” Terho adds.

On solid ground Google expands its data centre in Finland with an investment of 450 million euros. With the investment, the internet search company is responding to growing demand for its services, such as YouTube and Gmail. Google is adding to the 350 million euros it has already spent on the data centre, built on the site of a former paper mill in Hamina, southeastern Finland. The Hamina data centre is one of Google’s most efficient, due to Finland’s temperate climate and the chilly seawater available for cooling the servers. Finland’s geological and political stability also make the country an alluring location for data centres. This has been noted by other major players as well: Russia’s biggest search engine, Yandex, started building a data centre in Mäntsälä, southern Finland, in July 2013. Microsoft has announced a plan to invest nearly 200 million euros in a new data center in Finland.

Impressive figures

“Being headquartered in Shenzhen, China, we appreciate being treated as equals to Finnish companies. In the eyes of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, we are a Finnish company. This means that we are entitled to participate in all Tekes-funded research programmes,” Terho notes. In addition, research work performed in Finland is eligible for EU funding.


Finland is one of the few remaining triple-A rated economies in the euro zone.

€ 125,000,000 Finnish high tech companies attracted the total of 125 million euros in foreign venture capital during 2012. The rate is growing rapidly in the wake of the booming mobile games industry.


The Finnish government cut the corporate tax rate to 20% in the beginning of 2014. It is the lowest in the Nordic countries.

12 Meet & Greet


Cannes, France 11–14 March

By Maarit Niemelä Illustration Pietari Posti

o t n i Run ! n n i aF

MIPIM The international real estate show brings together the most influential players from all property sectors, offering access to a great variety of development projects and sources of capital.

Want to get down to business with the Finns? Try one of these event hot spots during 2014.

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland 22–25 January World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 With the theme “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business,” the World Economic Forum aims to develop the insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging challenges.

Madrid, Spain 19–23 February ARCO Madrid International Contemporary Art Fair Finland has been selected as the guest of honour for ARCO Madrid 2014, the most eminent art affair in the Spanish-speaking world.

Barcelona, Spain 24–27 February Mobile World Congress One of the world’s leading mobile events, MWC aims to be the catalyst for the next big mobile innovations. Once there, don’t forget to check what the Finnish mobile industry is up to!

St. Petersburg, Russia 22–24 May International Economic Forum More than 5,000 political and business leaders, leading scientists, public figures, and members of the media from all over the world gather to discuss the most pressing issues facing Russia and the world.

Doha, Qatar June UNESCO World Heritage Committee Every year, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee gathers to debate and take decisions on a range of issues. Finland was elected as a member of the Committee for a four-year term, starting in 2014.


Turku, Finland June

New York, USA 24–29 September

Helsinki, Finland autumn

CBSS Summit Meeting

UN Group of Friends of Mediation Meeting


The Finnish Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, 2013–2014, comes to a peek in June, when Finland hosts the summit meeting for CBSS. The theme of Finland’s presidency is a Clean, Safe and Smart Baltic Sea. June is one of the best months to visit Finland, by the way.

The UN Group of Friends of Mediation was established in 2010 by Finland and Turkey and during its existence the group has succeeded in strengthening the role of mediation in the UN.

This new start-up institution, the leading start up conference in Northern Europe and Russia, brings together the hottest ideas and those who wish to invest in them.

Santiago, Chile November Nordic seminar on renewable energy Nordic embassies bring together key players in the renewable energy sector: the seminar promotes Chile as an investment opportunity and Nordic know-how in renewable energy products and services.

Read more about Finnish literature starting on page 24!

Beijing, China Autumn

Frankfurt, Germany 8–12 October

Pure Finland

The Frankfurt Book Fair

Presenting pure Finnish expertise on energy efficiency, clean industrial processes, bioenergy, water management and air protection.

Meet the guest of honour: Finnland. Cool.

Lima, Peru 1–12 December The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties will make further efforts to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

14 Solutions FOR

A Healthier planet By Maarit Niemelä Photo City of Lahti

Land OF Blue Green innish industry is accustomed to using resources economically and coming up with innovative ways to save precious energy, even in harsh winter conditions. Consequently, Finnish cleantech companies are already global leaders in energy efficiency, clean industrial processes and bioenergy as well as in water management and air protection. The WWF and Cleantech Group’s The Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2012, ranked Finland among the most innovative cleantech countries in the world. This report evaluated 38 countries on 15 indicators related to the creation and commercialisation of cleantech start-ups.


A healthy dose of green attitude is concentrated in City of Lahti (pictured). This town in southern Finland is pioneering cleantech technologies. For instance, the municipal waste of Lahti’s 100,000 residents and the area’s industrial waste, are collected, processed to Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF), and then turned into energy at Lahti Energy’s Kymijärvi II power plant. It is the first gasification power plant in the world to efficiently generate electricity and district heat from SRF with energy containing waste as raw material. In just over a year of operation, this power plant, designed by Finnish technology company Metso, has significantly reduced the need for coal, and the CO2 emissions have been reduced by one-third. Read more about biofuels on the next spread!


CAN YOU SEE IT? For a Finn, smog is either something they are unaware of or something experienced on their travels. Nevertheless, Finnish companies possess impressive knowhow about air protection. As we cannot export our clean air in bottles, we have to turn our expertise in reducing emissions from industry, traffic and construction sites into making air cleaner for others. For instance, the ongoing Cleantech Finland project Beautiful Beijing aims to improve air quality in the Chinese megacity.

WE KNOW WATER One of the fastest growing cleantech sectors globally is water treatment. And Finns know something about water, not least because of our 180,000 lakes and excellent ground water sources. For decades, Finland has given serious attention to and taken concrete measures to protect water resources through effective legislation, good governance and co-operation with various stakeholders. This is our base for water expertise, scalable to solve water issues of any kind in any corner of the globe. In Finland, more than 250 companies and research institutes are active in the water and wastewater sector. Read more:

16 Solutions FOR

A Healthier planet By Fran Weaver Photos St1, Neste Oil and

Biofuel boom driven by ambitious targets

Major Finnish biofuel producers are benefiting from a healthy domestic market created by Finland’s decision to rapidly increase the proportion of biofuel in road vehicle fuel mixes. he EU has set a target that 10% of traffic fuels should consist of biofuel by 2020, but Finland has set the even more ambitious target of 20% bio by 2020. “This target is challenging but possible, though it means we’ll have to get more production plants running as quickly as possible,” says Mika Anttonen, Chairman of the Board of the Finnish energy company St1. “Finnish drivers of flexifuel car models can already use St1’s RE85 biofuel, which cuts fossil carbon


“Energy Security is also a key issue today.”

emissions by more than 80%. By 2015 we hope to create a 100% biofuel product for sale in Finnish gas stations,” adds Anttonen. Matti Lievonen, CEO of Neste Oil, agrees that the Finnish legislation linked to this target is encouraging the creation of new solutions and business: “Energy security is also a key issue today. Ever higher energy consumption is placing growing pressure on energy resources, ” he says. “In Finland we have no fossil fuel resources of our own, so building up our domestic biofuel industry and finding substitutes for imported petrochemicals is also good for the country’s trade balance,” adds Anttonen. Finnish firms have also benefited from purposeful public investments in biofuel knowhow and related R&D. “We have a high standard of university education in biofuel-related engineering and chemistry, and a lot of fruitful development work is also done at research centres such as VTT,” points out Lievonen.

Striving for sustainability Biofuels have clear environmental advantages over fossil fuels when it comes to combating climate change. But other global concerns such as deforestation and food security make it vital that the biomass used to produce them comes from sustainable sources. “At St1 we believe strongly in ‘second generation’ biofuels, whose production doesn’t remove resources from the food chain,” says Anttonen. The biofuels that today make up about 6% of the fuels sold by St1 are made from a variety of organic feedstocks that would otherwise go to waste, including residual materials from bakeries and breweries. Anttonen sees Finland’s vast forests as a huge potential source of biomass that could be converted to vehicle fuel. “Our forests are growing much faster than their timber is being used, so there’s plenty of scope for sustainable harvesting,” he says. “Other kinds of biomass that could be sustainably made into bioethanol in many parts of the world include household organic waste and sawdust, and we’re



Neste Oil is a leading player in global biofuel markets. The firm’s large-scale production facilities in Finland, the Netherlands and Singapore make around two million tonnes of renewable NExBTL diesel fuel annually from feedstocks including vegetable oils and organic residues.

St1 sell traffic fuel containing biofuel at hundreds of service stations across Finland, Sweden and Norway. This green-minded company is striving to create fuel mixes with increasing proportions of second generation biofuel in the form of bioethanol made of organic residuals and by-products.

already finding ways to use those resources.” Neste Oil’s NExBTL renewable diesel production has largely been based on palm oil from tropical plantations, but the company has recently been rapidly expanding its raw material base. “Organic wastes and residues, including waste animal fat, waste fish fat and residual corn oil, now account for around 50% of our renewable inputs,” says Lievonen. “We closely monitor all our production chains to ensure they meet our own sustainability criteria and international legislation. Today 100% of the palm oil we use is sustainability certified,” adds Lievonen. Neste Oil are also investing heavily in R&D that examines other potential

raw materials, including microbes, algae and wood-based biomass, as well as the technologies for refining them. Biofuel bonanza ahead? Looking ahead, Anttonen feels that Finnish firms may reap rewards from their pioneering development work when other countries follow suit and set more ambitious biofuel targets. “We’re building up knowhow in a business area that we envisage growing globally. “Different countries will adopt different solutions depending on the resources available. Here, in Finland, we could technically produce all the diesel we need from our own forest biomass, for instance.”

A humble building near Turku, in the southwest coast of Finland, contains a biotech company whose industrial enzymes bring huge savings for pulp and paper mills, and facilitate the production of sustainable biofuel. According to CEO, Alex Michine, MetGen has just grown “out of the kindergarten”, and is aiming for aggressive growth. The firm’s core competence is the genetic manipulation of enzymes. When used for industrial purposes, enzymes need some adaptation to cope with demanding environments, such as extreme heat or challenging pH. This is where MetGen’s technology platform steps in. Savings AND sustainability

From Lab to a Winning Recipe By Maarit Niemelä Photo MetGen

When a small Finnish biotech firm was listed among the 100 cleantech companies that are most likely to make a significant market impact over the next decade, we decided to take a closer look.

With MetGen’s solution pulp and paper mills can cut their energy bills by up to 2 million euros per year. Tailored enzymes assist in breaking down the woodchips before they are refined. The refining process uses around 70% of a mill’s energy, so accelerating this process is a welcome service. Another, extremely promising application for tailored enzymes lies in the biofuel industry. “For advanced biofuels, particularly, which I see as being far more sustainable than first stage biofuels,” Michine defines. The biofuel production process is surprisingly close to that of pulp and paper. “In pulp and paper industry cellulose is used for pulp, but in biofuels it needs to be further converted from cellulose into sugars. From these sugars you can produce


Solutions FOR A Healthier planet By Fran Weaver Photo Marjo Tynkkynen and

bioethanol, biodiesel or biofuel. Our enzymes enhance the process by making more sugars available, thus cutting production costs,” he says. Michine believes that the future is in turning real waste, like woodbased industrial waste, into biofuel. He believes Finland will be in vanguard of this revolution – as will MetGen. attracting investors

The combination of producing cost and energy savings, reduced CO2 emissions and cleaner wastewater, is a winning recipe that has made MetGen attractive to investors. In October 2013 MetGen was listed among the 100 most promising private clean technology firms, from amongst 5,864 companies from 60 countries. The influential 2013 Global Cleantech 100 list was produced by the Cleantech Group. Previously, MetGen was awarded the top prize in the cleantech category of the Eurecan European Venture Contest 2010. This helped to catch the eye of venture capital investors. In addition, MetGen has partly government-owned investors such as Finnvera and Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Michine points out that Finland offers an easy environment for a start-up: “The benefits include good government support, a functioning start-up infrastructure, good cooperation between businesses and universities, and plenty of skilled bio industry employees.”

“The future is in turning real waste into biofuel.”

“environmental investments tend to make economic sense”


Cleantech for the world

Other countries are increasingly looking to Finnish technology providers for viable solutions to their own environmental problems. “Many of the major environmental problems facing the world today relate to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. Western countries have, in effect, been outsourcing manufacturing and the related environmental problems to countries like China,” says Kaisa Hernberg, Executive Director of Cleantech Finland. Cleantech Finland is a government-funded organisation that supports Finnish companies keen to export technologies or services that will reduce negative environmental impacts such as pollution and excessive resource use. “Finland faced its own problems with industrial pollution in the mid 20th century. But over the decades our heavy industries have successfully found solutions for these problems,” says Hernberg. Energy efficiency has always been a key issue in Finland. Ambitious targets set by governments working in close consultation with industry have also led to dramatic improvements in air and water quality over the last 50 years. “Finnish companies offer world class expertise in four key cleantech areas: energy and material efficiency; the built

environment; bioenergy; and water treatment,” says Hernberg. “It’s not a choice of being green or being profitable, since environmental investments tend to make economic sense by improving efficiency and cutting costs in the longer run.” From Beijing to Delhi Cleantech Finland particularly aims to build strategic partnerships between Finnish companies to provide wideranging solutions for large-scale problems. “The Chinese are very serious about tackling pollution, setting ambitious targets and providing the necessary funds.” The ongoing Cleantech Finland project Beautiful Beijing aims to enhance air quality in the Chinese capital by reducing emissions from industry, traffic, coal fires and construction sites. India is another huge market with great potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions. “We’re also active in Russia, where key areas include waste management and energy efficiency. Finland can offer high levels of expertise in areas including district heating and combined heat and power production,” she adds. The cleantech sector is already a major pillar of the Finnish economy. In 2012 the sector grew by an impressive 15% and total turnover reached 25 billion euros.

Hernberg’s picks

Rising Finnish cleantech stars Innovative technologies are enabling up-and-coming firms to combat a wide spectrum of environmental problems.

Saving energy The Finnish family firm Ensto is becoming a major provider of energy-saving solutions wherever electricity is used, from family homes and electric car recharging points to entire electricity grids.

Recycling construction and demolition waste The Helsinki-based firm ZenRobotics has applied robotic technologies to create a recycling system that can separate valuable raw materials including metals, wood and stone from large amounts of mixed waste from construction sites.

Cleaning industrial wastewater Sofi Filtration’s automated self-cleaning filter system can process large quantities of wastewater from industrial processes, enabling the water to be reused.

20 The social


By Heini Santos Photos Tuuli Sundman

An enchanting blog Self-picked berries, harmonious landscapes, cozy restaurants, four seasons of fashion… Enchanting details from the Finnish lifestyle – just as the Finnish name of the blog suggests. uuli Sundman, 45, is one of Finland’s numerous lifestyle bloggers. She started her blog Lumo Lifestyle in 2008. About two years ago she noticed that its visitor statistics were climbing, which she attributes to her improved photography skills. She has not been trained in photography, yet her images alone are a reason to keep up with the blog. “It has been a learn as you go experience. When you take pictures for long enough, you start to understand camera settings and have a better understanding of visual composition,” she says. For Sundman, like most others, it all started low-key by keeping a log of her experiences and celebrating small details of everyday life. Today, her blog has been visited over 360,000 times, and the number continues to grow by 600–900 per


day. “Lately the 5:2 diet has been among the most popular topics. Travel posts always attract readers, as well as provoking headlines,” she says. The Finnish blogosphere has exploded in recent years, and there is an unusually large number of food and lifestyle blogs. Sundman is happy to see that more mature bloggers have also entered the scene previously dominated by the 20-somethings’ fashion blogs. She agrees that it just may be the chance to share your thoughts with a self-defined level of anonymity that loosens up the otherwise modest and quiet Finns. Sundman writes in both Finnish and English – to maintain her language skills and to reach a wider audience. Her readers are located all over the world, although the majority of them come from Finland and North America.

Tuuli Sundman, 45, is one of the numerous lifestyle bloggers of Finland.


Posted on August 11, 2013 by Aleksi Poutanen

For more Finnish blog action… …hit the streets of Helsinki Finnish professional photographers exploring the city of Helsinki. Hel Looks is an unexpected archive of individual, unique looks and styles documented over the past eight years. …or zoom in “Though I like to capture moments from various things in nature, my favourite subjects are the macro world and those little details that usually go unnoticed.” Photographer Joni Niemelä. Independent technology blog reports on digital startups and growth entrepreneurship from the Nordic and Baltic countries.

Get finNspired! Find inspiration in the form of stunning photos of Finland, modern and traditional Finnish recipes, fashion and design. Here’s who to follow on Pinterest. Pinners • Discovering Finland • Cleantech Finland • Finnish Design Shop • Scandinavian Today: Finnish Food & Drinks / Finnish Christmas

What’s the most common bird in Finland? Outdoors it still is the willow warbler, but the digital twitter is catching on. As of 2013, about one-tenth of Finns have a Twitter profile. We filtered some that actively tweet in English to help you include some Finnish thinking in your daily dose of Twitter. About Finland • @thisisFINLAND, by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs • @goodnewsfinland, Business and economy news service Good News from Finland Media • @vehkoo, founder of @hackshackershki, journalist and author Johanna Vehkoo Culture • @musicfinland, Music Finland • @RestaurantDayRestaurant Day, a one-day carnival in favour of a free-spirited restaurant and food culture Sports • @H_Kovalainen, F1 racing driver Heikki Kovalainen • @NieminenJarkko, tennis player Jarkko Nieminen Society • @pasi_sahlberg, education activist, DG of CIMO and author of “Finnish Lessons” Pasi Sahlberg • @mikko, Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, an internet security company

22 In Touch By Antti Arvaja Photos Pekka Holmström / SKOY, Pekka Nieminen / SKOY, and Jorma Marstio / SKOY

Moments from Finnish Literature Here they are: Lola, the interpreter; Jaakko, the romantic professor; and Petteri, the publisher. They are connected by one thing.

To dig deeper into Finnish storytelling, be sure to get your hands on the third Finnish Granta: “The Best of Young Finnish Novelists” coming out in autumn 2014, just before the Frankfurt Book Fair. See:


“I try not to think about myself as cultural mediator. I focus on translating well into my mother tongue.” - Lola rogers

t is intriguing how a thoroughly American girl comes into contact with Finnish through college friends and falls in love with the language. This girl now plays a small but vital role in the international advancement of Finnish literature. “I studied linguistics and wanted to compare some of the unique characteristics of different languages. That was my initial idea. Then, in the late 1990s, I ended up studying in Helsinki for eighteen months. Finnish is just so challenging and interesting,” says Lola Rogers, who, over the years, has translated a lot of Finnish fiction and non-fiction. The list includes Rosa Liksom, Riikka Pulkkinen, Mika Waltari, Kreetta Onkeli and Matti Yrjänä Joensuu. Her best-known translations are of Sofi Oksanen’s works. “Actually I just put the final touches on my translation of When the Doves Disappeared and sent it off to the author and editor for comment.” Rogers puts Oksanen’s popularity down to the writer’s great imagination and ability to create strong stories.


“Oksanen’s most famous novel, Purge, and her latest contain a huge diversity of elements, which draw in very different kinds of readers. She is well versed in the backdrop to her novels, Estonian history, and wants to tell us about it: as a translator I appreciate that. Sofi Oksanen is like an interpreter, mediating between the former Soviet state and other cultures.” Most careful readers How is it possible to translate the content and moods of Finnish books into other cultures? “Of course the text undergoes changes in the process of translation. But it also changes as a native reader reads it, page by page. And it changes when the story is turned from a play into a novel or a film. A strong story inspires readers to think about it, discuss it, and, yes, translate it. I don’t really see myself as cultural mediator; I just focus on translating well into my mother tongue.” Rogers describes translators as the most careful readers in the world. They read and reread a book many times, very slowly. “We’re always thinking about what something means and how the message and tone could best be captured in another language. In doing so, we’ll notice all the inconsistencies and unnecessary repetitions in the text. Often there are scenes which progress too slowly or quickly. There may also be tangents which lead the reader away from the main themes of the book.” For Rogers, translation was initially just a cherished pastime. Her first translations were lyrics by the well-known Finnish 1990s pop band Ultra Bra. “Doing it as a hobby helped me learn the language. It also showed me the infinite allure of translation. I must confess I sometimes translate just for fun.”

Lola Rogers is an American translator who has recently worked on a lot of Finnish literature. Her most famous translations are of the hugely popular novels by Sofi Oksanen. Rogers first came into contact with Finnish while at university in Seattle. Having intended to study only the structure of the language, she soon found herself at the University of Helsinki. Now, from her home office in Seattle, she translates into small but significant portion of Finnish literature in English.

24 In Touch

Meandering through a labyrinth of towering book piles one is gradually able to discern an office, and then the Professor of Arabic Language and Islamic Studies of the University of Helsinki sitting by a computer. Before swivelling around on his office chair, he double-checks our agenda for the day. Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila is a soughtafter guest in debates and panel discussions. He is also the Finnish translator of the Koran. As a non-fiction author, his interest in things is boundless. This is evident in his latest work on the cultural history of drugs. Published this year, it has already been translated into Arabic. “My field is full of unsolved problems, some of which are, thankfully, solvable. I am driven by the desire to learn and to instruct others,” Hämeen-Anttila says. He is currently planning a non-fiction book in English on the interaction between Arabian and Persian literature, while also collaborating with Venla Rossi on a Finnish language book about the cultural history of food. “I can’t imagine not writing. I can spend a week reading, but after that I just have to start producing text of my own.” Plunge into poetry During his lifetime, Hämeen-Anttila has read enough books to fill a few small libraries. As a child in northern Finland,

“I wrote the book purely for a Western audience. The subsequent interest from the Arab world was a surprise, and a very pleasant one.” - JAakko Hämeen-anttila

he expanded his reading to grown-up literature at an early stage, also eyeing up the shelves of his professor father. “During my entire childhood, my friends must have enticed me to go out skating just two or three times: most of the rest of my time I spent reading. My small circle of friends were OK with that: I was a different child.” Some of Jaakko’s father’s library had come from his own father, who prior to his death in the 1940s had been the literary director for the Karisto publishing company. “I grew up reading European and Finnish literature. Besides the great works of world literature, as a schoolboy I had a passion for Finnish poetry, especially from the interwar period. I reread the collected poems of Uuno Kaila many times, and of course I was also familiar with the work of Eino Leino, V.A. Koskenniemi and Kaarlo Sarkia.”


Top 10

The most translated Finnish book of all time is Kalevala, our national epic. It’s been translated into 60 languages, the latest of which is Urdu. The top10 list includes also classics like The Egyptian by Mika Waltari, the Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson, The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna and Purge by Sofi Oksanen.

> 200

More than 200 Finnish titles are published in 40–50 languages every year.


During 2013–14 some 40 Finnish children’s books will be published in Arabic.

Finnish poetry from that period has been a constant companion for the professor through the years. He believes he inherited a degree of romantic ideals from it. For the last couple of decades, HämeenAnttila has been keeping a close eye on Finnish contemporary prose, usually with a delay of around six months. Sofi Oksanen’s latest novel is still sitting at the top of his reading list. Characteristics to treasure While not keen to place authors in any order of preference, he does mention Antti Tuuri as an example. “Tuuri’s writing is very Finnish: slow, laconic and steadfast. The Bosphorus Express, for example, is a good description of what it’s like to be an outsider. Joel Haahtela, on the other hand, is sort of his antithesis, with a very European style.” With a little coaxing, Hämeen-Anttila can be persuaded to mention one more book, The Midwife by Katja Kettu. “Kettu’s writing is fabulous; it’s as if she were thinking out loud. She puts everything in exactly the right place. She might describe some of the cruel aspects of life, but she does it for a good reason – unlike some others, who write about unpleasant things just for the sake of it.” What part does Finland play in the European literary field? “A bit of patriotism never goes amiss, but you have to be realistic in this case. Finland is a small European country, and that’s a good thing. Broadly speaking, Finnish literature is fairly exotic on the European scene, and that’s something we should treasure.”


Professor Jaakko H채meen-Anttila

is a leading Finnish researcher of Islam and a celebrated non-fiction author. He likes to emphasise the positive aspects of Islam, because its negative elements tend to receive enough attention of their own accord. H채meen-Anttila has also been active as a translator into Finnish, most notably making new versions of the Koran and the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as the first Finnish Arabian Nights to have been translated from the original text. His next book, a scientific exploration of the interaction between Arabian and Persian literature, will be in English.

26 In Touch

Petteri Paasilinna is a publisher and the founder and CEO of Paasilinna Publishing Ltd. Despite having been in operation for just four years, the publishing house has become wellestablished, with several of its writers being found on Finnish bestseller lists. Paasilinna has a vision of how the Finnish novel can achieve worldwide renown in the next few years.


“My father’s world conquest began when a French translator discovered The Year of the Hare. The process has always been the same: first France, Germany and Italy, then fanning nicely out to the rest of Europe.” - Petteri paasilinna

For someone wanting to become a publisher in Finland, the surname Paasilinna can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it brings a lot of automatic publicity; on the other, you are constantly judged in relation to a famous family that has been active in Finnish literature and politics. Petteri Paasilinna is the son of Finland’s most internationally renowned writer, Arto Paasilinna. The threshold into the book business was particularly high for him. “You can’t just announce your intention to be a publisher. You have to produce work first, and have the outcomes evaluated. Due to my family name, we come under close scrutiny and criticism,” Paasilinna says.

The company is currently making significant investments for 2014's international sales, and has chosen the titles to be published accordingly. “We are currently negotiating the rights to Hannu Mäkelä’s children’s books with European publishers, and are also discussing the translation of the latest novels by Lasse Lehtinen. On the non-fiction side, there are opportunities for many of our cookbooks, while our new arts and crafts series was really well received at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair,” Paasilinna says. “I believe that a Finnish take on any universal subject can be interesting abroad. We have a good reputation, but we need to kick into a higher narrative gear. That kind of combination could attract attention.”

For international audience

Arto Paasilinna was scheduled to write a documentary novel he had long been planning for his son’s publishing house, but a fateful accident put paid to his writing career as the company was just starting out. “Fortunately, my father did have time to give us a lot of encouragement and help in starting our publishing company, with a view to being one of our writers.” Arto Paasilinna’s world conquest began when a French translator discovered his

The bearded man bears some physical resemblance to his father, but lacks his extravagantly rakish nature. Sitting in his office at Paasilinna Publishing, Petteri Paasilinna has a view over the rustic surroundings of an old fire station. Spirits are especially high at the publishing house. “I just received the Finnish Book Publishers’ Association’s bestseller list for October, and we have three non-fiction titles in the top ten.”

Learning from the best

novel The Year of the Hare, originally published in 1975. “It all started with the French translation. Now the novel exists in nearly 50 languages. European publishing houses keep an eye on each other’s translation schemes, so the sale of rights has fanned out nicely: first France, Germany and Italy, and then the rest of the continent.”

How cool is Finland? Finland appears as the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair (8–12 October 2014). Finland expects a major breakthrough for Finnish literature and culture. FILI (Finnish Literature Exchange) is responsible for the practical implementation of the project.

28 Designing

SERVICES By Heini Santos Photos Kari Vainio, Mika Huisman, and Oulu City Library

Rethinking the library Do not be fooled by the Helsinki University Library’s lofty new building Kaisa. The design elements extend far beyond architectural eye candy.

he library’s recent two-year project called Intelligent Design carried out a full reformation of the service palette. The idea was to extend the library’s role beyond lending and handling materials and create an environment that supports learning and working. From the inception, students were actively included in the planning, which led to fifteen innovative service concepts now being put into practice at Kaisa. “We found out that there was a continuous shortage of course books. After observing the borrowing behaviour we realised that people were holding on to books that they were not using – a habit that comes from the long tradition of set due dates. So, we came up with a bonus system that rewards users for returning materials in advance," explains Mikko Koivisto, the Head of Service design at the service design agency Diagonal. Another fundamental change in the library culture had to do with sounds. Typically libraries are considered hives of silence. But, in an optimal environment for learning, should there not be dialogue? “We dedicated areas to loud, quiet and silent work. We also created a toolkit for students who want to form a study circle, support for learning, courtesy of the library,” says Koivisto. The library also features rooms for people who are allergic to electricity or have hearing disabilities. All the services and working areas are marked with clear and visual signs – without library jargon, which puts all users on the same level in terms of access to services. The plan is to combine all the information in a mobile application that allows users to, for instance, navigate to a specific book or even borrow books by using a phone.



Booktalk is a way of encouraging children to read. The challenge is to spark the interest of the weakest readers and encourage everyone to develop their reading level. A booktalk session lasts 45 minutes, just like a typical Finnish classroom session, and it introduces about ten books. Although the focus is on the books, the booktalker can also use music, video, or book trailers.


we make it work


There are 836 libraries in Finland. Altogether Finns make 53 million library building visits a year and visit e-libraries 57 million times. On average, every Finn borrows 18 books a year. There are 151 mobile libraries in Finland. They go to 12,324 stops and make 7.4 million library loans a year. That’s almost 8% of all loans.

The bookmobile If people cannot get to the books, the books must go to people.

The Helsinki University Main Library in Kaisa House represents award-winning Finnish architecture.

A 9-litre engine, bold orange design, and a rooftop window. Every two weeks, 70 different stops with 1,300 kilometres in between. Stacked with 4,000 books with a side for music, DVDs and magazines. This is Lohja's new bookmobile. In late 2013, this small town in southern Finland welcomed a brand new mobile library featuring modular shelves that can be pre-stacked at the main library, transforming the mobile collection during a pit stop. “We wanted to emphasise the presentation of the materials, hence the rotating racks for audiovisual materials and separate exhibition shelves. The new bus will actually hold fewer items than the one before but the content can be customised to different target groups. That, in turn, will improve book circulation,” Director of Lohja’s library services Maritta Turunen says. The bookmobile is a flexible solution to providing services in a country of long distances. It can bring library and information services as well as small cultural events to new residential areas well before other services are built. Most importantly, it visits schools and daycare centres that do not have a library nearby.


Keep it short

Hole in the skull?

By Maarit Niemelä

Photo Jolla

Finnish expertise in biomedicine and biomaterials has created a new substance for skull implants that could replace current cranial implants, which are made out of plastic or titanium. The Finnish biotech company Skulle Implants has introduced a fibreglass-reinforced bioactive composite for correcting large skull bone defects caused by trauma, tumours or infections. What makes the material superior? The answer is that it enables circulation and bone growth within the implant, reducing the risk of infection. The implants went on sale in Europe at the end of 2013.

The Finnish design, with no front-facing buttons, stands out from the pack.

Higher than high Kone, one of the global leaders in the elevator and escalator industry, has enabled the next advance in the design of high-rise buildings. Their innovation, the UltraRope, is an elevator hoisting technology that will allow a kilometre-long elevator ride – twice the distance currently feasible! The extremely light rope promises to revolutionise the elevator industry. Until now, steel ropes have been heavy and a serious burden for both elevator motors and energy bills. At the moment, there are three buildings in the world topping the 500-metre mark. Plenty more will be built as urbanisation forces cities to grow upwards.

Photo Kone

Hello, Jolla speaking! The Finnish phone industry keeps on going. Jolla Ltd., headquartered in Helsinki, has launched the Jolla phone with the open-source Sailfish operating system – based on the heritage of Nokia’s MeeGo project. The first mobiles were sold in Finland in late November of 2013 and the reviews were positive. Initially, Jolla will target mobile markets in Europe and China.


Sleeping in airports – exclusively? “If you can’t find a way to sleep in this airport, there might be something wrong with you,” stated Sleepinginairports travellers’ community, who recently ranked Helsinki Airport fifth best airport in the world. It will be even more comfortable to fall to sleep there after spring 2014, which is when Finnair opens a new Premium Lounge in the airport’s longhaul area. It will complement the original Finnair Lounge, which routinely features in lists of the world’s top airline lounges. Helsinki Airport is the shortest route and main gateway from Europe to Asia with more than 1.8 million passengers on Asian flights in 2012.

Photo Finnair

Pho to


Iittala is Asia bound

Photo Haltia

Finland’s natural environment Thirty kilometres from Helsinki city centre you can experience Finnish nature at its best. Not only is The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia located in the spectacular setting of Nuuksio, its exhibitions gather all of Finland’s nature under one roof. Haltia is built entirely of wood, ushering in a new era in wood construction. Furthermore its energy for heating and cooling is derived from the sun and the earth.

In the spring of 2014, the world famous Finnish design brand Iittala will launch tailordesigned tableware for the Asian market. Taika tableware has been extended to include designs with Asian dining habits in mind, while retaining a strong Nordic touch. Iittala is also expanding its retail network in Asia: the first Iittala store was opened in Shenzhen, accompanying the 16 shop-in-shops already in China. In Japan, the company has a strong presence with ten stores.

32 knowledge


By Dan Rider Photos Riitta Supperi / Team Finland, Tommi Tuomi and Seppo Saarentola

T for Teacher, E for Equality Finland, an education superpower with a competitive innovation economy, has taken a unique approach to its education. What can be learned from educating children the Finnish way?

ducation remains one of the cornerstone commitments to egalitarianism and transparency in Finland. The country’s high-profile status as an education superpower is largely due to its consistently strong results in the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) PISA survey (Programme for International Student Assessment), conducted every three years, the latest results were published in December, 2013. The OECD measures global school performance comparing 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science. Ranking near or at the top of the survey in all three competencies since 2000, Finland has been going head to head with the other two behemoths of the education world, Singapore and South Korea. There is also the October, 2013 release of the World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Index, which states that ‘Finland’s exemplary Education and Enabling Environment scores put it at the top of the rankings for these two pillars’. Finland was ranked second overall in the 122 country survey, representing a further clear example of education as a


primary driver of the nation's labour market health and competitiveness. Knowledge as a natural resource Pasi Sahlberg, a renowned Finnish authority on educational reform who recently begun a tenure as a visiting speaker at Harvard University, says simply, “Finns know how to design equitable education and a truly balanced curriculum.” So how did Finland get to the highest echelons of the global education rankings? The answer goes back decades.

“Finns know how to design equitable education and a truly balanced curriculum.”


By Dan Rider

The Finnish Education System, In a Nutshell Formal education begins at age seven, and throughout, makes no use of standardised testing with one exception – the National Matriculation Exam, which most pupils take at the end of a voluntary uppersecondary school when aged 17 or 18; the majority continuing on to academic or vocational high schools. Primary and secondary schooling is combined, to avoid a potentially disruptive transition. Schools give little homework, pupils have the fewest number of class hours in the developed world and in the child’s most formative years, great emphasis is placed on play. Parents are actively involved throughout and while some flexibility of choice exists, all schools (and there are no private schools per se) essentially offer the same high standards. This means that the increasing global trend towards aggressive and competitive ‘school shopping’ does not exist.

In the 1970s Finland realised, that it could not rely on its relatively poor natural resources or manufacturing. Instead, investment needed to focus on creating a competitive knowledge or innovation driven economy. And the notion of equality was the catalyst. The Finnish education policy’s primary driver was the stipulation that every single child should have exactly the same opportunities to learn – geographic location, family income or background should be no impediment. Inspiring others Since 2002, hundreds of foreign delegations have visited Finland to talk with educational experts, to visit the schools and to generally marvel at what Finland has been able to achieve. For some countries, their visit has resulted in implementing policy changes back home. “The geography of education would be very different globally if the Finnish system was exported,” explains Sahlberg. “But education is a very complex system. Rather we simply want to help and inspire.”

Teachers are trained to assess pupils using independent criteria they have created themselves. In this respect, teaching in Finland is unique. Teachers and administrators are given considerable responsibility and autonomy, decent pay and, crucially, command the respect of the majority of the population. Teaching is considered a prestigious career. A Master’s Degree is a prerequisite to enter the profession and (fully subsidised) teacher training programmes are among the most selective professional schools in the country. All education in Finland is free up to Master’s Degree level, all pupils receive individual student guidance, psychological counselling is free if required and there is easy access to health care and free school meals. Pupils requiring extra tuition in core subjects are helped and there is no stigma attached to this often emotive issue. In Finland, rather than a simple catchy political slogan, it really is a case of ‘No child left behind.’

34 knowledge


To focus on one case study; highflying educational achievers in Alberta, Canada have been closely collaborating with Finland in recent years and policy shifts are bringing rapid reward. Explains Alberta-based Stephen Murgatroyd, an education journalist and consultant, “With caveats, there is much to admire in the Finnish system and the influence on our educational policy has been marked. It has informed a new way of thinking about education.” “There is now a concerted effort to increase the interpersonal relationships between teachers and pupils and the government trend both locally and nationally is moving away from testing at grades 3,6,9 and 11 towards abolishing exams altogether. Also, policies are pushing to eradicate the stigma involved with pupils needing special support as nearly every child needs some form of special support so their competencies can be developed. In Canada, we have learned a lot from the Finnish way and we are trying

there is strong correlation between the quality of the Finnish school system and economic growth. to create great schools for all, rather than for a elite minority.” Key to global competitiveness The strong correlation between the quality of the Finnish school system and overall GDP economic growth is inescapable. Finland has a deeply embedded, culturally based support for education. Most experts would agree that a strong level of support for education within the surrounding culture is more important than money. What makes an education system both successful and competitive comes down to only a handful of core factors: realizing

that 'quality and equity' is better than 'quality or equity'; attracting the best people to the profession; giving a status to teachers that matches other highly respected professions; allowing for lots of customisation in the classroom; and providing ongoing and relevant training. Here are four terms, long considered to be at the heart of an education based on skills and knowledge. They all begin with the letter C: critical thinking, creativity, compassion and communication. And, finally, there is T for teacher and E for equality.


By Leena Koskenlaakso Photo

EXPORTING EDUCATIONAL EXPERTISE FCG Finnish Consulting Group knows it is not possible to export an entire education system – only the best elements of it. “An education system is always associated with a particular culture, country and historical context. That is why we can only export Finnish educational expertise – not the Finnish education system as such,” says project director Riikka Vuorela of FCG Finnish Consulting Group. The unit she works for is specialised in consulting for overseas preschool, primary and

“All Finnish teachers have a Master’s degree.”

secondary level education projects, and has extensive experience in exporting Finnish educational knowhow. Exportable elements

Vuorela says many aspects of the Finnish school system are so good that they are worth exporting to other countries. “One of the unique elements of the Finnish education system that our foreign customers find very interesting is teacher training. All Finnish teachers have a Master’s degree. They work very independently, and are seen as strong professionals, which is not always the case elsewhere in the world,“ she points out. A trained teacher, with teaching experience both from Finland and the US, Vuorela regards Finland’s top PISA rankings as by-products, rather than conscious goals. “We have not systematically striven to be top performers in PISA surveys. Our goal has been to make teaching and learning more meaningful,” she says. Instead of standardised tests, teachers continuously assess the progress of the students, looking at the learning process as a whole. Focus on Gulf Area, Asia, and Latin America

THEY make it work

FCG Finnish Consulting Group Ltd • Multidisciplinary consulting and training company. • Operates in several countries around the world. • The company’s client base consists of a wide spectrum of both public and private sector organisations (e.g. ministries of education, education authorities, foundations, and private investors). • Has been involved in creating well-being in more than 5,000 projects worldwide.

FCG Finnish Consulting Group implements two kinds of educational export projects: those that are funded either by the Finnish government, EU, World Bank or similar institutions, and those that are funded directly by the company’s overseas customers. “One of the countries we focus on is Saudi Arabia. They are investing heavily in developing their education system. They have a very strong private school sector, and as the population is largely young, the volumes are big. We are helping them to develop their teacher training, increase the use of ICT and eLearning in teaching, and improve the training of school principals, among other things,” Vuorela says. “Asia and Latin America are our other target areas. The Asian market for education development is huge, and in Latin America there is much need for improved teacher training. Many countries want rapid progress, but the implementation of these processes typically takes a long time.”

36 knowledge


By Terhi Rauhala and Maarit Niemelä Photos and Rovio

Small Children.

Big thinking! What would a society run by children be like? Well, step into MyCity. The enthusiasm is tangible. Seventy Finnish sixth-graders have moved into a miniature city built inside a gymnasium. Cardboard walls separate 18 company and public service premises: shops, offices, doctors’ clinics and engineering works. This is MyCity – a physical learning environment for economic, employment and entrepreneurial skills. “Hello, nice to meet you. I work as a managing director,” says a voice at approximately shoulder height. “I help my employees and take care of my own work, too,” says the voice, which turns out to be a 12-year-old boy. He and his schoolmates are adults for a day, operating within the framework of a computer game simulated economy, while learning in a very concrete way how society works. Hands-on business On the day before going to MyCity, children sit through ten school lessons covering issues such as the difference between businesses and public services, what work is and why taxes are paid. They also apply for three different jobs and receive specific instructions and a scripted role to play once they

step into MyCity. Despite its demanding nature, managing director is the most popular job, with photographer and journalist a close second. Girls also opted to be interior designers. During the day the young citizens set up a service in their own field. They acquire capital to fund it, and buy and sell products and services, thus gaining a good grasp of the circulation of money – an important, basic civic skill.

“According to feedback from children and teachers, they get a motivating glimpse of work life.”

37 According to feedback from children and teachers, they also get a motivating glimpse of work life. “What a fun day at work!” is the usual comment from children finishing their jobs in MyCity. A winning concept There are six MyCities spread across Finland and a mobile MyCity touring nationwide. Already more than half of the children in the 12 to 13 age group get to participate in the learning module and the number is growing. MyCity has received enthusiastic reviews elsewhere, for example at the IPN Conference 2012 it was awarded Regional Best (Europe) as the most innovative new programme developing enterprise and entrepreneurial skills. In November 2013, it won the category “Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit” in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards. The MyCity programme is funded by The Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland, Finnish municipalities and a variety of foundations and companies. For the companies involved, MyCity offers a good way of demonstrating corporate social responsibility. What better way is there of showing youngsters that every person is an important member of society?

What if learning was fun? Is the blackboard edged out by monkeys, pirates and irritated birds?

In their game Math Ahoy!, the child uses maths to guide the pirates on a historic map of the world.

Teachers can choose whether to go old-fashioned, or open their classroom doors for gamification, a phenomenon that pushes its tentacles through society. Teachers are getting spoiled with the choice of even wittier educational games. With a top-notch gaming industry hub in Finland, Finnish companies are taking a serious part in the race. Some of them are making a good use of the country’s excellence in mathematics education.

Engaging and inspiring

Math monkeys

For instance, has developed an online math learning tool that combines game, pedagogy and animal animations. The application has around 50,000 users globally. The firm’s mission is, no less than, to improve children’s mathematical ability globally, by making high-quality online education available for everybody. “Math is a universal language. Small kids are being taught the same things everywhere,” says Katri Björklund, CEO of As for Eduplus Ltd., they have loaded mathematics into a pirate ship.

Also the crown jewel of the Finnish gaming industry, Rovio, is working on many fronts of education. “Angry Birds Playground learning concept allows children to experience learning in a fun way. It has been scientifically studied and proven, in cooperation with the University of Helsinki and Cicero Learning Network, making education both engaging and inspiring”, says Sanna Lukander, VP Learning and Book Publishing at Rovio. Rovio is known for collaborating with several institutions like CERN, NASA and National Geographic Society. These high-level partners bring in their learning contents, and Rovio throws in their distribution channels and brand value which appeals to kids. “This will result in better learning,” envisions Peter Vesterbacka, Mighty Eagle and CMO at Rovio.


by NATURE By Terhi Rauhala Photo Mikko Karjalainen /

A gem in the world’s treasury CHEST Finland has been elected as a member of the Unesco World Heritage Committee for a four-year term starting in 2014. The Committee’s main tasks are to decide which new cultural and natural properties are to be inscribed on the World Heritage List each year, and to monitor the state of all the World Heritage Sites. The list currently numbers 981 sites in 160 countries. Some 25 new sites are entered each year. One of the seven Finnish Unesco World Heritage Sites is the Kvarken Archipelago (pictured). Together with the High Coast in the neighbouring country of Sweden it forms a transboundary World Natural Heritage Site. Besides natural beauty, the Kvarken Archipelago possesses unique geological value: the rate of the land uplift* in the area is one of the highest observed worldwide. It serves as a key area for understanding the processes of land uplift caused by the melting ice sheet following the last ice age.

* land uplift results from land bouncing back after being covered by an ice during the last glacial period. The ice pressed the earth’s crust down and after the ice melted, the crust began to rise slowly. In the Kvarken region it rises at approximately 8.5 mm per year. The port of the regional capital, the city of Vaasa, has been relocated numerous times due to this phenomenon.


Photo Mirva Kakko Crockery by Iittala, cast iron pot by Timo Sarpaneva / Iittala, dress by Marimekko and the original idea of the dish drying cabinet by Mrs. Maiju Gebhard.

Creatively Functional FROM FINLAND The dish drying cabinet, a classic Finnish innovation, stems from a kitchen rationalisation project in the 1940s by the Finnish TTS Institute (Work Efficiency Institute). Kitchens of the time were dysfunctional, which strained women unnecessarily in their chores. It was estimated that women spent 29,900 hours just washing dishes during their lifetime. By rethinking the kitchen, the daily food management time was reduced by a remarkable three hours. The dish drying cabinet alone accounted for up to two hours less working time. And, as a bonus, the amount of towel laundry was reduced too. Today, the dish drying cabinet is still a standard feature of Finnish kitchens, but housework is shared far more equally between women and men. Find more Finnish practical solutions at

Focus on Finland 2014 English edition  

Read about Finnish culture, business and technology on Focus on Finland magazine, an annual publication of Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affa...

Focus on Finland 2014 English edition  

Read about Finnish culture, business and technology on Focus on Finland magazine, an annual publication of Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affa...