Minister Rehn in Tokyo 18.5.2016

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 18.5.2016 15.08

Finland-Japan Business Seminar and Networking Event, "Finland, the Hub for Digital & Connected World"

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to visit Japan and open this Finland-Japan Business Seminar and Networking Event, organized by the Embassy of Finland, Finpro and JETRO. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to JETRO for providing these great facilities for the event, and all the organizers for their hard work, which enables us to learn of each other’s capabilities and joint possibilities.

In his very constructive and substantive opening speech, Mr. Ishige, Chairman of JETRO, referred to his positive recollections of sauna and Finland. Let me reciprocate and tell you about my personal connection to Japan. My Old Man was an entrepreneur who had a spare parts and car sales business in Eastern Finland; we had a dealership of Mazda for decades and also Honda for some time.

Thanks to having worked there as a spare parts salesman when I was a young man, I can say with all Finnish genuine honesty that I know Japanese cars inside out! Thus I can testify to their world-class technological edge and customer satisfaction, which will also provide a basis for productive future cooperation in this field with Finnish ICT companies here today.

Today, we are focusing on ICT, particularly on the Internet of Things (IoT). We will take a look at the development of 5th Generation Networks that will provide multiple new opportunities for the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics and a promising application area for these technologies: Mobility as a Service.

Finland is well known as an ICT nation. Our sizable investments in research and innovation have produced world class and ground breaking expertise in many sectors of the economy. The European Union lists Finland among the innovation leaders in its Innovation Union Scoreboard. Finns are active ICT users, and we have a high number of ICT specialists in our workforce.

I can without any doubt say that Finland will be a forerunner in the development and implementation of new 5G technologies, largely thanks to its highly advanced test network capabilities. We are famous for connecting people, in the future also connecting objects and allowing them to communicate. Finland makes digital difference by introducing innovative digital technologies and services to the world.

We have agile, fast-moving companies with strong expertise in providing services to operators and digital service providers. All these technologies are, of course, enabling us to provide better products, solutions and services to our customers and furthermore, to bring more added-value to customers.

The Finnish Government holds digital economy as one of its key objectives in its strategic agenda, along with Arctic issues, bio economy, clean technologies as well as health and welfare technologies – all of these domains naturally benefiting from ICTs. We are pushing forward in digitizing our public services and developing Finland into one of leading environments for developing, testing and using ICTs.

For Japanese companies Finland offers a stable and predictable investment destination with competitive operating costs, highly skilled workforce and well developed infrastructure. We have also several test beds available for companies and research institutions to test their architectures and devices.

In Finland the attitude towards entrepreneurship is now more positive than ever before. Slush conference is a perfect example of this. Slush is one of the biggest events worldwide for start-ups and growth-orientated companies.

Slush Asia was arranged for the second time in Tokio just last week. It was a big success with over 4 000 attendees. During the two days start-ups could meet the most interesting venture capital funds, business angels and media representatives in Asia. We see the event as part of a wider Nordic-Japan-cooperation. 
Japan has been a model for the world in many areas of ICT development and is well known as a key producer of both consumer and industrial electronics. A number of Japanese Nobel prize winners have laid the groundwork for ICT related innovations. Japan is an important market not just for the size and potential of its local market, but also for the possibilities that it offers for international business. For example, Japanese automotive industry is one of the fastest changing and hottest tech areas with strong global networks.

Finland is in excellent position to help Japanese telecommunication and manufacturing industry in realizing the change. Finnish companies have products and solutions covering 5G technologies and the whole Industrial Internet and Big Data value chain.

In our business delegation we have a crew of Finnish superstars that deliver groundbreaking solutions across the entire operator value chain.These companies are ideal partners when building applications and services that connect physical industrial assets via Internet of Things networks utilizing cloud services. In addition, we are proud to present to you the leading companies that operate in the areas of smart traffic systems, smart vehicle solutions and Mobility as a Service. Their solutions help to achieve increased efficiency, reduced costs and enhanced customer experience.

I would like to encourage all the participants of this seminar to learn from each others’ offering and to seek possibilities for doing mutually beneficial business together.  I wish you all the best of success in today’s seminar!

Thank you.