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State visit to Finland

13.05.2016 11:04

International affairs

Carlo Thelen, Director General of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, addressed an audience of roughly 200 guests on the Luxembourg economy and its latest innovations (among others related to the extraction of space minerals) through a presentation entitled "Luxembourg: fly me to the moon" during the “Finland-Luxembourg Business Forum” that took place at Finlandia Hall, in presence of HE Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland, TT.RR.HH. The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg as well as Ministers Etienne Schneider, Jean Asselborn and Carole Dieschbourg.

From the 9th to the 12th of May 2016, the Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg organised a multisectoral trade mission to Finland in the framework of the State Visit of their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, in close cooperation with the Luxembourg Embassy to Finland, the Ministry of the Economy and the agency Luxembourg for Finance. The delegation was led by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, HE Etienne Schneider, and the Minister for the Environment, HE Carole Dieschbourg. The purpose of this mission was to strengthen bilateral economic ties between Luxembourg and Finland in the fields of ICT, Eco-technologies, Life Sciences, Education and Entrepreneurship, all spurred by innovation.

Round tables and pre-arranged individual business meetings have been organised to present Luxembourg’s know-how and technologies but also to stimulate an exchange on practical experiences with the Finnish counterparts. Almost 60 representatives of Luxembourg companies and different business organisations participated in this mission (see in appendix the brochure presenting the Luxembourg delegation).

As in many other countries, grasping the opportunities offered by markets abroad is essential for Luxembourg companies to grow and prosper. As witnessed by the high number of representatives present during this mission, Finland has turned as a market of high interest.

During the first day of the mission, companies took part in 2 parallel roundtables focusing on “Entrepreneurship & Education” and “Innovation”, organised in collaboration with Finpro, the most important public organisation that helps Finnish SMEs go international and encourages foreign direct investment in Finland.

Finland economic and social model is currently facing a challenge. As a direct result of the decline of Nokia, the country holds a large reservoir of talents and expertise which forms the basis of the innovation and start-up ecosystem and remains well-placed to find new sources of growth that are also of interest for Luxembourgish companies.

Finland is growing to become one of the most vibrant startup scenes in the world which has given birth to successful products such as Linux, Angry Birds, Supercell and Slush startup event, one of the biggest events in the world.

Finland has ranked high in different international comparisons relating to competitiveness and innovation and its success reflects the value placed on education with programs for students providing them with basic knowledge and experience to increase their awareness of the business world. As one of the leading innovative countries in Europe, Finland is an excellent partner to share with. It has proven an excellent location for testing out new products and services.

Today, concrete collaborations already exist between Luxembourgish and Finnish organisations, e.g. between LIST (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology) and VTT (Technical Research Center of Finland), which both took this State Visit as an opportunity to officialise the bilateral cooperation by signing a Memorandum of Understanding this week.

The programme continued on Wednesday 11th of May, with the “Finland-Luxembourg Business Forum” that took place at Finlandia Hall, in presence of HE Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland, as well as TT.RR.HH. The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and an audience of roughly 200 guests. Focused on Innovation on the one hand and Finance on the other hand, the seminar allowed to enlighten the common points that exist between our two countries. Both convinced of the interest of the internal market, Finland and Luxembourg also face similar challenges when it comes to their economies:  both need to diversify in order to be less dependent on one sector or company. As very well developed countries, innovation is for us both a key factor for keeping our competitiveness. These subjects have been tackled in two panels of experts from both parties and participants could continue to exchange their views during a networking lunch that closed the event.

In the evening, with the help of our Grammy award-winning composer Gast Waltzing and the Orchestre National de Jazz Luxembourg (ONJL) a concert has been offered by TT.RR.HH. The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg to the Finnish guests in order to give them a glimpse of the Luxembourg repertoire. The concert was followed by a Gala Reception.

The mission ended on Thursday at Espoo, the second largest and fastest growing city of Finland, with a guided visit to the “Innovation Garden” where the business delegation visited 3 incubators and accelerators, namely “EIT Digital”, a leading European open innovation organisation, “Design Factory”, one of the three factories of Aalto University, and “Start-up Sauna”, an accelerator whose coaches are some of the most talented serial entrepreneurs, investors and experts in Finland. Some years ago, “Start-up Sauna” launched Slush, Europe's leading startup event.

The participants went back to Luxembourg with many new ideas and promising business contacts to follow up in the coming months.

Carlo Thelen, Director General of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, surrounded by HE Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, Markus Suomi, President and CEO of Finpro and Päivi Leiwo, President of Finpro, welcoming HE Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland.

HE Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland greeting TT.RR.HH. The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.

The delegation visiting Startup Sauna, the coworking space of the Aalto University.

The Espoo Innovation Garden, a start-up incubator, welcomed the delegation.