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New 'Business Finland' superagency to offer one-stop service for export firms

The Finnish government is combining Finpro and Tekes to produce a new body aimed at jump-starting sluggish exports.

Mika Lintilä
Mika Lintilä took over as Minister of Economic Affairs at the end of last year. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Two major state-funded agencies are to merge in an effort to better promote Finnish companies abroad. Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, will join Finpro, the former Finnish Foreign Trade Association. It already includes Export Finland, Visit Finland and Invest in Finland.

The new mega-agency so far has a working title of Business Finland.

"Their shared service path will carry on from the development of products, services and business models all the way through bringing innovations to market without breaking the chain anywhere along the line," Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä said on Tuesday.

Ambassadors to become 'country managers'

This means dismantling redundancy between the two organisation's duties and freeing up operations abroad, he said.

One concrete change will be a stronger role for the Foreign Ministry in boosting the internationalisation of Finnish firms. Heads of missions, including ambassadors, will be more active as country managers in this regard.

"The purpose of the change is to improve the services provided for customers – growth-oriented companies aiming at internationalisation. The customer will in future be served by one organisation instead of two," said Lintilä.

Lintilä and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen unveiled plans for the streamlining of innovation funding and export promotion on Tuesday, a day after the reorganisation was approved by the cabinet. It aims to double exports by small and medium-sized enterprises by 2020.

The new model is inspired by similar mergers in Estonia, Norway and Iceland.

Business Finland is to start operations at the beginning of 2018 with a staff of about 600.

According to Statistics Finland, exports grew last year by just 0.5 percent after slumping by around four percent in 2015.

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