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Traditionally, Finland and India have enjoyed cordial international relations with each other. Today, India presents a vast and lucrative market for Finland’s technology products and investments. In a recent interview with GOInternational Finland, Finnish Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Kimmo Tiilikainen reiterated the importance of Finland-India bilateral relations.

Focus Areas Of Bilateral Relations

Finland can be instrumental in supporting India in its route to transformation, especially since India is a fast-growing economy and the urban migration poses a unique challenge for its development.

Speaking on the topic, the Finnish Minister said, “At the governmental level our countries have identified plenty of mutual interests related to renewable energy, environment and smart city solutions. In the future, collaboration in the healthcare sector could also be explored.”

The Finnish Minister iterated that in the light of Prime Minister Modi’s flagship schemes such as Make in India, Clean India and Smart Cities Mission, Finnish companies do see huge business opportunities in India and the renewable energy sector.

As the Minister responsible for energy, environmental and housing policies, he had visited India in October 2017 with a Finnish Business Delegation. During the visit, it was recognised that there was a strong urge for India towards urbanisation and the subsequent development to achieve this is increasing the Indian consumption power and economic leverage.

Kimmo said, “Cities in India are facing an urgent need for infrastructural improvement, smart and renewable energy solutions and technologies, in addition to the development of public transportation, sanitation and housing.”

According to him, in India, Finnish companies are already well established in both thermal power and solar energy sectors and in fact two-thirds of Indian power plants are run with Finnish automation technology!

These are some of the key areas emphasised by the Minister for bilateral collaboration in terms of efficient energy generation, use of renewables, biomass and biofuels and smart energy solutions:

  • The energy and ICT clusters can jointly solve the future challenges related to digitising the energy system.
  • Finland also has technologies and solutions that can help India improve energy efficiency in smart grids functionalities, devices and solutions for heating, lighting and smart transportation including electric vehicles and charging station infrastructure.
  • Finland recommends India to create a policy and regulatory framework that enables investments in flexible generation technologies and implementation of energy efficiency interventions at scale.

And how will Finland aid India’s development?

The Finnish Minister sheds light. Kimmo says, “Team Finland is a network promoting and is helping Finnish enterprises to become international and succeed in the global market.”

“The core of the network brings together publicly funded organisations such as ministries, Finland´s network of diplomatic missions and Business Finland that gathers all services related to innovation funding and promotion of exports, investments and travel under one roof,” he further added.

The Finnish companies with its Embassy in New Delhi have worked in the following ways:

  • Both Business Finland and Embassy search for business leads and open tenders, host events and prepare insights for Indian market opportunities.
  • They also work closely with national key target groups and state level policy-makers, business and science leaders and media personalities in order to provide a fruitful network of connections for Finnish companies.

The Best Way To Introduce Finland’s Smart City Solutions In India

It has been observed that energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand. Building cities, migration and transportation in a rapidly expanding urbanised world continuously demand an evolved means to energy. This demand is an achievable target!

Kimmo cites an example. He mentions, in 2016, Finland’s capital region initiated, in collaboration with leading companies and government, a major project called ‘Smart & Clean Helsinki Metropolitan’.

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The project is underway and is aiming to lower the area’s carbon footprint by creating new cutting-edge smart and clean solutions in mobility, energy, buildings, water and waste management. On the same line, the Finnish Minister said that Finnish companies are as much enthusiastic to see the project being adopted for Smart Cities in India.

He said, “Finnish companies are following with great interest the Smart Cities Mission by Prime Minister Modi with a goal to develop 100 sustainable, smart cities all over the country. The programme is much needed, as every year more than 10 million people move from rural areas to major Indian cities in search for better livelihood.”

To achieve a smooth implementation of the project, several official and business delegations from Finland have visited India in the recent years, to respond to India’s urbanisation challenges.

In addition to the solutions for Smart Cities, Finland has also developed pioneering IT solutions and technologies for waste collection and logistics and proven technologies to generate energy by utilising and combining different kinds of waste.

The Finnish Minister is confident that Finnish smart solutions in energy, transport and building sectors will help Indian cities to accomplish their development plans aiming for electricity stability, smart waste management systems, as well as an advanced system for traffic management and electric vehicle infrastructure.

He quips, “Finland and Finnish companies are eager to work together with Indian counterparts.”

The Future Ahead For Finland And India Relations

India has been a demanding market for Finnish companies and Finnish companies are increasingly showing their interests to participate in India’s growing economy.

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Companies like Nokia, Nokia-Siemens, Kone elevators, Wartsila, Ahlstron, Elcoteq, Metso, Fortum, UPM have set up manufacturing facilities in India and Finnode has opened its office in India.

According to a FICCI report, Finland ranks 31st in terms of investment with cumulative FDI inflows into India amounting to $274.27 Mn between the years April 2000 – June 2013, accounting for 0.14% of total FDI inflows.

Finnish companies are on the rise in terms of its presence in India. In the beginning of the millennium, there were around 30 Finnish companies operating in the country whereas today over 120 Finnish companies have operations in India.

The companies are observed to be present in India either through their subsidiaries, joint ventures with local companies or representative and liaison offices.

According to the same report by FICCI, here are some of the largest investments made by Finnish companies till date includes:

  • Finnish telecom giant Nokia opening its tenth mobile phone factory in Chennai, Tamil Nadu in spring 2006.
  • Elcoteq, electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company, opened a factory in Bangalore in April 2005.
  • Finland’s Chempolis on the lookout to invest some $52 Mn in biorefineries using bagasse, perhaps teaming up with at least one sugar mill in the country.
  • Wartsila, that started production in India in the mid-1980s, was among the first Finnish companies to arrive in India. Company’s heavy fuel power plants are used for local energy production to supplement the enormous shortage of electricity in India’s deficient power grid. Wartsila dominates the sector with a market share of about 70%.
  • Kone in the escalators and lifts business is part of a Finnish success story in India. The company started its Indian operations in 1984, and today its share in the sales and maintenance of lifts has come to 30%.
  • Finnish paper products are being marketed in India by Finnish paper giants UPM, StoraEnso and M-real.
  • Andritz Finland and Metso Paper are involved in upgrading paper machines and building new ones.
  • Huhtamaki with its local joint venture partner is the largest Finnish employer in India in the packaging material sector.
  • Eltete is another Finnish company in packaging business operating in India.
  • Indian Investments in Finland The number of Indian companies having presence in

Going by the record, Finland would be more than keen to make its presence in India since some of their previous investments have fructified their business on a large scale.

However, there still exists a lot of potential for cooperation between India and Finland in a wide range of sector. Also, keeping India unique diversity in prominence, the collaboration has to be based on strategies that help both sides overcome current handicaps whilst leveraging existing strengths.

Keeping this as the premise of all future collaborations, what can be understood is that:

Collaboration with Finnish entities means access to a highly advanced technology for India; and also, collaboration with India provides huge market opportunities in terms of opening up of prospects for jointly developing products and technologies for a potentially huge market as also for exports for Finnish entities.

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