For several years Finland has suffered from a lack of economic growth and the debate on the best medicine to re-fuel growth is ongoing. Surely it is easier to try fixing something that is broken but sometimes it makes sense just to forget and start building new. We recently talked to five hundred innovation-driven companies from the Helsinki region in order to better understand their challenges, needs and expectations for future. It was surprising how many of the local companies’ share a strong positive attitude towards growth.
Companies see good growth prospects.
Local CEOs have a genuinely optimistic outlook on the future. Almost half of the companies expect to grow in Helsinki and more than third are planning to increase their headcount within the next two years. ICT sector is by far the most positive; almost 60 % of the companies expect to grow. Health Tech and Life Sciences sectors seem to be the most cautious with their future plans. However, there is plenty of room for hungry startups in these domains as well, and I’m sure we won’t be lacking newcomers.
To find growth, is to be global.
So where does the growth come from? The obvious answer from local companies is that as all business is global these days, so is growth. One in four companies already have activities abroad and there’s a lot of interest towards internationalization from the rest of the crowd as well. While some are planning on starting to export business, others already have established significant research, development and innovation activities abroad and continue developing those. Surely there are companies that are growing locally, but the real growth opportunities are abroad.
Rolling stones do not gather moss.
The basis for any economic growth is in research, development and innovation. Almost one in ten companies that we talked with invest more than 5% of their turnover in R&D&I. I am convinced that in reality these companies actually invest even more as they already have developed innovation cultures. It is very important for any company looking for growth to continuously rethink their strategies in the light of fast evolving business environment and to implement accordingly. Stones need to roll and new innovations are jewels that are born through systematic R&D&I activities.
Let us open up and innovate more!
I am obsessed with growth, and I think we all should be. We have to open our minds in order to start seeing the opportunities available and then go after them. Whether global or local, new business opportunities are out there for the ones who innovate. Practically all innovations are based on co-operation between individuals working in small and big entities, public and private, practice and academia. We all need to open up and innovate more – together.
Follow Miska in Twitter @MiskaHakala.