Finland - Information and Communication TechnologyFinland - Information Technology
OverviewThe Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Finland employs 6.8 percent of the workforce, which was the highest in the EU in 2017. (The average was 3.7 percent.) A clear majority work in software businesses. Turnover for the Finnish ICT sector was $14 billion in 2017, representing growth of 8 percent over 2016. The software industry, including a fast-growing gaming industry, constitutes a major share of this. Imports of computer hardware and units from the United States totaled $75 million, an increase of 25 percent from 2016. The import value of telephones and network devices from the United States was $52 million, an increase of 6 percent from 2016. Imports of electronic components from the United States totaled $32 million, decreasing by 58 percent.
Finland has the world’s highest mobile data usage per capita and second-highest mobile broadband penetration rate. Finland ranked sixth in Europe for ICT R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2015 (5 %). The amount of venture capital raised by Finnish startups and growth companies, in relation to GDP, is the highest in Europe. The average cost of a 20-member R&D unit is 50 percent lower in Finland than in Silicon Valley. The R&D framework builds on a strong emphasis on IPR protection. It is noteworthy that in a joint R&D project, the IPR is the property of a company, not a research institution or a university in Finland. This encourages companies to develop and test new digital services in Finland. Some examples of international cooperation include: the 5G Test Network; Aurora – intelligent transport and road maintenance solutions; IBM’s Watson Health Center of Excellence, the first Nordic Healthcare Competence Center and the first National Imaging Center of Excellence outside the United States; and a new USA-Finland research cooperation program between the Cyber Trust Research Center and the National Science Foundation Industry University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC), connected to Oulu University.
Finland has made rapid strides to digitize a broad range of government services, with the aim of developing an advanced e-government infrastructure for an increasingly digitally smart economy. The government has allocated more than $451 million, including direct capital funding and regional grants, to support various digital projects being run by the country’s local authorities between 2018 and 2022.
With a reliable power grid, political stability, and reliable and fast data networks, Finland is also a prime location for data centers. Thanks also to Finland’s granite bedrock and no major natural hazards, the Data Center Risk Index 2016 crated Finland as the safest data center location in the EU and fourth safest in the world. Google, Yandex, Equinix, and Microsoft have data centers in Finland, and there is a general desire to establish more international data centers here.
The Finnish government has taken a proactive role in nurturing artificial intelligence (AI) development in Finland. It wants the country to be one of the leading economies to develop and utilize artificial intelligence and the platform economy. To support this goal, a four-year (2018-2022) $226 million program called “AI Business” has been developed to fund Finnish start-up, SME, midcap, and large companies in all fields developing and utilizing AI and platforms in business. The program offers international networks and export services, like matching selected companies with large global companies. Several other smaller ongoing AI pilots are ongoing in Finland that also give opportunities to different ICT companies.
SoftwareThe Finnish software market grew by 5.9 percent in 2016. A big part of this is due to growth in the gaming software industry. Finland is home to world leading mobile gaming companies, such as Supercell, Rovio and Fingersoft. The Finnish gaming industry has grown faster than the global gaming market with a compound average growth rate of 45 percent during 2004–2015. In 2016, the Finnish gaming industry set a record-high turnover of $2.9 billion. The annual turnover growth rate was 4 percent from 2015 to 2016.
The number of people employed in the gaming industry has been growing steadily and companies have positive expectations. About 27 percent of people employed in the gaming industry in Finland are foreigners, and industry experts expect this to grow, citing difficulty in finding enough talented senior level employees from Finland to meet growing demand.
While Finnish software companies have expertise in developing computer software products, they tend to be small, with limited financial resources. As such, many Finnish software companies seek U.S. partners offering financial and complementary technical resources.
Finnish companies are looking for growth opportunities through industrial Internet and digitalization. The industry has some Finnish software companies that have been able to exploit the new opportunities of digital marketing and delivery channels as well as the opportunities provided by the consumerization of information technology. In Finland, structural changes are taking place in the industry; demand is changing from customer-specific projects to cloud services.
Finland has the highest use of cloud services in Europe, with other Nordic countries close behind. The 2017 Eurostat Survey found that 66 percent of Finnish companies use cloud services. The growth in cloud services has been particularly strong in the last five years since Finnish companies are used to purchasing services from third parties and there are no significant barriers for using third-party services. Strong penetration of software as a service (SaaS) in Finland is one reason for wide cloud adaptation. Currently SaaS penetration is over 90 percent in Finland, but other models are starting to gain momentum. Private infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is growing rapidly and awareness of platform as a service (PaaS) is growing, too. OpenStack platforms for cloud computing are getting more interest among professionals.
Finland has a robust cyber security sector, with close to one hundred companies from global players to ambitious startups, and the market is very competitive. The core expertise in Finnish companies lies in encryption, data privacy, threat prevention, and identity management solutions. Best prospect target customers include government entities, financial institutions, and larger companies. Many smaller companies struggle to budget for IT security even if they acknowledge the growing need.
OpportunitiesKey opportunities are in cloud services, private infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and OpenStack platforms for cloud computing. Opportunities also exist in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ER) systems. Consumer security software, such as anti-virus programs for computers and increasingly for smart phones, also represents strong opportunity. Interest in Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Unified Threat Management (UTM) is growing quickly. There is a slight obstacle to cloud storage, however. Finnish businesses are reluctant to store business critical information in a cloud outside of Europe.
SLUSH, November 21-22, 2019
Cybersecurity Nordic, October 2-3, 2019
GameXpo, November 15-17, 2019
HardwareFinland’s population of 5.5 million people represents a highly sophisticated market for computer hardware. Finland has one of the world’s highest numbers of computers per capita connected to the Internet. This environment provides cutting-edge, high efficiency settings for all computer hardware-related businesses. In 2017, computer imports from the United States were $94.6 million, a 0.4 percent increase from the 2016 figures. The share of computer imports from the United States was 7,6 percent compared to other countries. China holds the biggest share. Consumer interest in tablet PCs has continued to decrease and from 2016 to 2017 the number of tablet PCs sold fell by 12.6 percent. Ownership of tablet PCs was 57.2 percent in 2017. Smartphones have replaced PC and tablet usage in many functions. The number of smartphones is increasing and in 2017 81 percent of Finns used them (79 percent in 2016).
Products with cutting-edge technology dominate the Finnish hardware market. On the consumer electronics market, while demand for tablets continues to decrease, smart phones with bigger displays and lightweight laptops continue to gain a foothold. LED TV sales continued to grow in popularity along with smart TVs, followed by digital high-tech electronic products. Demand remains high for home IT equipment. Wearables for consumers are becoming more popular. Finland has several wearable-technology start-ups, which join a few older established ones like Polar and Suunto. The state-owned Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) has been creating business opportunities for Finnish smart clothing and services over the past few years. Research institutes and companies have been working together to develop completely new products for international markets. One of the most recent of these projects is the Smart Clothing 2.0
OpportunitiesUltramobile PCs, wearable technology products, smart phones, and home IT equipment present the best opportunities in the market.
TelecommunicationsIn 2017, 97 percent of Finnish households used broadband and 89 percent had a mobile broadband connection, compared to the EU average of 83 percent and 42 percent. Three companies – Elisa, Telia, and DNA – control 99 percent of the market for both fixed and mobile network broadband subscriptions. Connection speeds are increasing, and by the end of 2018 some 60 percent of all fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions already had a connection speed of over 100 Mbps, up from 33 percent in 2017. Fiber optic connection availability also reached 33 percent of households in 2018. With the market shifting more and more toward mobile data and mobile broadband, network operators are now concentrating on network upgrades, providing improved mobile broadband services to the 99 percent of the population already covered by Long-Term-Evolution (LTE).
In late 2016 the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom – previously FICORA) auctioned spectrum in the 700MHz radio frequency band to extend the availability of LTE services nationally. Traficom’s plan was to make spectrum in the 3.5GHz band available to network operators by the end of 2018. This band is one of the pioneer bands assigned for 5G across Europe.
The 5G Test Network Finland (5GTNF) project, which consists of around 50 members from industry, academia and the Finnish public sector, offers testing, trial and piloting services, and ample opportunities for collaboration within the ecosystem. With varying focus areas at different sites, 5GTNF can cover a large variety of vertical industry use cases by providing support for high data rates, low latencies, reliable communications, and massive number of devices. 5GTNF is a joint initiative between the Finnish public and private sectors.
Free-to-air terrestrial TV channels will migrate fully into a new broadcasting technology (DVB-T2) by the end of March 2020. Pay TV channels will adopt the new broadcasting technology even earlier. The new broadcasting technology enables broadcasting of high-definition (HD) programs or a higher number of program channels with standard (SD) quality.
The provision of television and radio content and distribution network services may be subject to either a license or a notification requirement. TV and sound broadcasting transmitters are also subject to a radio license from Traficom. For television operations in an antenna network a license is granted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. A license is not required for cable or satellite-relayed television operations. Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for licensing. More detailed information can be found at TrafiCom.