Health technology is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Finnish economy
Today, health technology is the fastest growing high-tech export sector in Finland, providing jobs for 13,000 people. Over the past twenty years, the sector’s share in export turnover has increased by five times to total EUR 2.3 billion of export turnover in 2018, where 3.4% of the increase is represented by trade with Russia.
The technology market landscape now stretches to measurement and imaging solutions for disease diagnosis, in vitro diagnostic equipment and laboratory equipment used for rehabilitation and therapy.
Online services intrinsically related to the high-tech sector use the Industrial Internet of things (IoT) also known as the Industrial Internet, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics while expert services are represented by clinical research and regulations.
One of the most striking examples is a distribution agreement between Euformatics (Finland) and Al Jeel (Saudi Arabia) expanding the scope of the NGS omnomics Suite software to hospitals and laboratories in the Middle East.
Healthtech Finland fosters industry growth and collective knowledge
Healthtech Finland is an association representing the interests of the Finnish technology industry and at the same time a community of industry professionals providing a collaboration platform that fosters industry growth and collective knowledge.
The association was founded in 1980 based on the interests of companies that stood at the origins of digitalization and were interested in collaboration at different levels. Planmeca, PerkinElmer Wallac, GE Healthcare, and Thermo Fisher Scientific were the pioneers among Finnish hi-tech companies.
The main objective of Healthtech Finland is organizing working groups, webinars, workshops and knowledge exchange to ensure the promotion of collective knowledge and, as a result, the position of Finland-based health technology companies in the global market.
The Association organizes its work through annual working group meetings including Medical Devices, In vitro Diagnostics and Health Data working groups. Each group represents a growing sector: devices related to visualization of disease processes, laboratory research, and data structuring from the healthcare sector. In addition, the association also has Genomic Industry Special Interest Group and Ageing Finland Network.
As of today, the association has 150 members with about ten of them representing supporting companies such as research institutes, authorized agencies as well as chambers and communities for urban development while the remaining 140 are operating directly in healthcare technologies.
Finland attracts international health tech companies
According to Saara Hassinen, Managing Director of Healthtech Finland, the tremendous growth of the technology market since 1997 has been driven by a vast research base, research expertise and availability of the necessary skills, which led to the emergence of new companies that began to use clinical data provided by hospitals.
Successful cooperation between companies and technology platforms represented by government organizations contributes to the overall success. Well-coordinated operating processes coupled with government support inspired many international companies to continue research and operations in Finland.
European legislation is being harmonized with new European regulations (Medical Device Regulation and In vitro Diagnostics Regulation), so as the CE mark. If the company exports outside Europe, the requirements of the destination country must be taken into account.
As to the field with the most dynamic growth, it really depends on the global environment. In the COVID19 year 2020, the largest increase was in exports of laboratory diagnostics. In ”normal” years, the strongest is the export of medical devices.
In future, new technologies (such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence and 3D printing) will play a significant role both in Finland and across the globe.
Many Finnish companies steer for the global market
The larger the company, the higher is the importance of entering the global market with its products and offerings. Global operations require excellent distribution and sales networks that are designed in collaboration with other businesses involved in the process.
Companies are also interested in international research collaborations. Many are involved, for example, in EU framework program projects. Ecosystems and value chains are no longer national. They are international and Finnish companies want to join them.
Production and operation ecosystems and value chains are growing beyond the limit of national businesses pushing many Finnish companies steer for the global market and cooperation with companies from all over the world, including Russia.
Such cooperation is often facilitated by Business Finland, a government agency headquartered in Helsinki and designed to promote innovation, trade, and investment. Business Finland currently employs 600 experts in 40 offices worldwide as well as in 20 regional offices across Finland.