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Reports from missions abroad, 10/9/2014 | Embassy of Finland, Washington

Team Finland gains momentum in the United States

Focus. Sharpen. Distribution of responsibility. These words could be used to summarize the Team Finland meeting held in Washington, D.C. at the end of September. Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde invited a group of 20 people to her official residence for the purpose of narrowing down the wide scope of Team Finland’s activities to the aspects best suited to the American market.

Former WTO Director-General, Ambassador Mike Moore (centre) of New Zealand was the luncheon speaker at the Team Finland meeting, held at the official residence of Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde (front row, left).

Tomi Rauste, Finpro’s Head of Region Americas, and Reetta Härönoja, Team Finland Coordinator at the Embassy, drew up the meeting’s agenda, which concentrated on the essentials. At the outset, all of the participants had to define their objectives for the meeting.  

For many, it was the focusing of activities on areas in which the group has the most to offer.

Director General Markku Keinänen of the Department for External Economic Relations at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and CEO Markus Suomi of Finpro brought Team Finland greetings from Finland. Keinänen stressed the importance of the United States as a market region. For example, the United States ranks second in the export of services from Finland, immediately after Sweden.

Markus Suomi talked about Finpro’s renewed structure and explained that the new Finpro is more customer-driven and networked than ever – both of which are key factors on the American market.

One of the questions discussed during the meeting was: “Which Team Finland activities have been useful for Finnish enterprises and what could we have done differently?”

Among others, the expert assistance available to enterprises as well as the Foreign Ministry’s activities in dismantling barriers to export and reporting on the situation in the United States were considered successful.

The accessibility of these reports to enterprises, for instance, was seen as an area for improvement. This is a task that is already underway. 

The ICT and digitalization working group brought together Team Finland actors from the diplomatic missions in Washington D.C. and New York, Finpro personnel from Helsinki and Silicon Valley as well as representatives of Tekes and VTT.

One of the day’s pivotal ideas day was that Team Finland activities in the United States should focus on activities that no one else is doing. Government funds should not be spent on activities that overlap with those of other actors.

Perhaps the most important goal of the day was to demarcate Team Finland’s main activities, marking off the sectors where Finnish enterprises have the most to give. A clear case was ICT and digitalization, but the other focal sectors aroused vigorous debate.

In the end, cleantech and the segment of the health sector labelled “Healthy longevity” were chosen as the other two main themes.

Emphasizing these three areas does not exclude activities in other sectors when so required, but the network will concentrate especially on these three focal areas.

Team Finland is in good shape in the United States – welcome to the market!

Additional information: Team Finland in the United States

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Updated 10/14/2014

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