Finland’s life sciences industry benefits from the country’s highly educated workforce, geopolitical position, and governmental bodies. Finland has continually been ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world and has been ranked at the top of the WEF’s Environmental Sustainability Index since 2000. Finland has a stable, small, and open economy that attracts research, funding, and individuals interested in high-level product development, including the life science areas of biotechnology and health and wellbeing technology.
The country’s consistent focus on product development has not only attracted top talent in this area but has also identified Finland as one of the top countries globally in regards to R&D spending per capita. Finland’s companies and consumers remain early adopters of emerging technologies, and the Finnish government’s innovation policy is an important part of its overall economic policy. These two factors have resulted in Finland’s position as an ideal country in which to test new life sciences technologies.
Biotechnology continues to be one of the most promising and important high-tech sectors for Finland, and its importance is emphasized by the fact that Finland is ranked among the top ten countries globally for biomedical science and clinical medicine. Finland’s pharmaceutical market was worth two billion (EUR) in wholesale value in 2011 and is strategically located to geographic markets containing more than 80 million people. Finland also remains a global leader in the development of new niche applications based on biotechnological innovations, including biomedicals, gene technology, molecular biology, and drug delivery devices.
In addition to the biotechnology sector, Finland also excels in the area of health technology. The country has long supported R&D that has enabled the creation of products and services used in health care and medicine. Among other innovations, Finnish companies are involved in developing technologies and services to aid in ambient assisted living as well as in improving the capacity of the elderly and others to cope with the challenges of everyday life. 35 percent of Finnish health technology exports in 2012 went to the United States while Germany received seven percent.
Additionally, though Helsinki is the largest city within Finland, known for its high quality talent and large enterprises, the life sciences sector is also supported by other Finnish cities. These cities include Kuopio, which is one of Finland’s largest cities and home to over 5,000 businesses including several in the fields of health and well being, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical development. In addition to Kuopio, the Finnish cities of Oulu and Turku are also strong life sciences contributors. Oulu is home to more than 250 startups, many of them in life sciences, and Turku’s biotech roots reach back approximately one hundred years to local pharmacies and food production. Bio-industry continues to have a strong presence in Turku’s city center and universities.
Overall, Finland is poised for continued economic growth in the life sciences sector. The country boasts high birth rates while also maintaining progressive work-life policies that keep women more economically active than in similar countries, largely due to public childcare services and a legal right to work shorter days. In addition to this, English is the common business language and most common foreign language.