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SMEs like Beneq – the key to economic success?

The Finnish economy is in dire need of new export business. In the past, Finnish exports have mainly been driven by major corporations. However, big company job opportunities are now few and far between. The future seems to lie with smaller export business, such as Beneq, which manufactures see-through displays.

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A Beneq see-through display in the hands of the company CEO. Image: Yle

Nanotechnology company Beneq makes transparent displays in its Espoo facility. The technology is based on a Finnish invention, and no one else in the world has the capacity to produce such goods.

The thin film based electroluminescent displays are currently being tested by big international companies in airplanes, cars, and even fridges. The first commercial applications may come out within a few months.

Beneq CEO Sampo Ahonen says the company has been so inundated with demand from different quarters that it’s hard to estimate how big a business he has on his hands. The company aims for annual growth of 30 percent. However, 100 or even 1000 percent hikes are not out of the question, Ahonen notes.

Beneq is one of hundreds of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) that Finland’s economic future may depend on. In the past years, nearly all new jobs have been created in SMEs, while major companies have been bereft of new employment opportunities. The scenario was also discussed last week at a seminar where leaders convened to ponder Finland’s economic future.

Challenges and promise

However, SMEs also face many obstacles in Finland, as Ahonen asserts: “I see that there’s a lack of courage, financing and market know-how.”

With some 140 employees, Beneq has had its eye on the international market from its inception. There are hopes that other SMEs follow a similar strategy, to make up for the lagging exports of big business.

Beneq employees find inspiration in working for a company possibly on the cusp of a major breakthrough

“It’s been really great to see the huge enthusiasm and growing number of innovations just among our own people,” comments Beneq’s head of production, Jukka Lammi.

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