Finland’s Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing Kimmo Tiilikainen spoke with Finnish Accelerator publication Go International’s Laura Quinton about the bilateral relationship between Finland and India, areas for cooperation in sustainability and the introduction of Finnish solutions in India, and investment opportunities for Finnish businesses. The interview is reproduced below:
GI: India’s fast growing economy & urban migration are creating unique challenges for sustainable development. How can Finland support India in its transformation & what do you see as the key areas for bilateral collaboration?
Finland has well noted the enormous potential of India as one of the fastest growing economies in the world – congratulations for your success! Finland and India enjoy a close relationship and an increasing amount of business and technology cooperation. At the governmental level our countries have identified a great amount of mutual interests related to renewable energy, environment and smart city solutions. In the future, collaboration in the healthcare sector could also be explored.
Finnish companies see huge business opportunities in India and are following India’s ambitious plans to increase renewable energy resources and the implementation of Prime Minister Modi’s flagship schemes: Make in India, Clean India and Smart Cities Mission.
As the Minister responsible of energy, environmental and housing policies, I had the privilege to visit India last October with a Finnish Business Delegation. During the visit I witnessed how a strong trend towards urbanization is increasing the Indian consumption power and economic leverage. However, I also learned how urban migration is challenging India´s sustainable development. Cities in India are facing an urgent need for infrastructural improvement, smart and renewable energy solutions and technologies, in addition to development of public transportation, sanitation and housing.
Energy related questions are in the cornerstone of India´s growth policy. Finland wants to support India to achieve its ambitious plans to diversify energy and electricity production and to increase the use of local renewables.
In India Finnish companies are already well established in both thermal power and solar energy sectors and in fact 2/3 of Indian power plants are run with Finnish automation technology!
Our key areas for bilateral collaboration are related to efficient energy generation, use of renewables, biomass and biofuels and smart energy solutions. The energy and ICT clusters can jointly solve the future challenges related to digitalizing the energy system. Finland’s ambitious targets for cutting CO2 emissions and increasing the share of renewable energy leverage our technological development and guarantee that we can provide top-notch solutions also for other countries. Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2045. We have decided to end the use of coal for energy by 2030 and are exploring if this can be done already in 2025. By 2030 we will also cut by half the use of fossil oil and increase the total share of renewables above 50 percent of total energy consumption.
Finland also has technologies and solutions that can help India improve energy efficiency in smart grids functionalities, devices and solutions for heating, lighting and smart transportation including electric vehicles and charging station infrastructure. With Finnish technology and know-how the challenge of balancing the grid can be tackled efficiently, reliably and sustainably.
Finland recommends India to create a policy and regulatory framework that enables investments in flexible generation technologies and implementation of energy efficiency interventions at scale.
I want to express our governmental support to more intensive and extensive ties between Finland and India. Perhaps we could share more of our best practices, exchange ideas and compare policies on how to succeed in implementing sustainable regional policy and growth?
GI: Proven Finnish innovations can be a catalyst to India’s transformation. Considering the scale difference, how best can Finland’s Smart City Solutions be introduced to the Indian market?
Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand. Building and transport sectors cover 60 % of the global energy consumption. Urban migration is a global challenge and we continuously strive to find new and more sustainable ways to build and maintain our expanding cities.
In 2016, Finland´s capital region initiated, in collaboration with leading companies and government, a major project called “Smart&Clean Helsinki Metropolitan”. The project is aiming to lower the area´s carbon footprint by creating new cutting-edge smart and clean solutions in mobility, energy, buildings, water and waste management.
Finnish companies are following with great interest the Smart Cities Mission by Prime Minister Modi with a goal to develop 100 sustainable, smart cities all over the country. The program is much needed, as every year more than 10 million people move from rural areas to major Indian cities in search for better livelihood.
During the recent years, several official and business delegations from Finland have visited India with top-notch profile to respond to India´s urbanization challenges. Finnish companies hold world class knowhow in smart city and smart energy solutions, infrastructure planning, advanced mobility with pollution and noise reduction, lighting and electric vehicle charging and traffic management systems.
As mentioned earlier, Finnish companies are already well established in the Indian smart energy sector and can help Indian electricity utilities and distribution companies to transform conventional electrical grids into high-performance smart grids with distributed energy generation and intelligent power management with high level of digitalization.
In addition, Finland has pioneering IT solutions and technologies for waste collection and logistics and proven technologies to generate energy by utilizing and combining different kinds of waste.
I’m confident that Finnish smart solutions in energy, transport and building sectors will help Indian cities to accomplish their development plans aiming for electricity stability, smart waste management systems, as well as advanced system for traffic management and electric vehicle infrastructure. All these solutions are scalable and support cities in achieving ambitious environmental targets, as well as generate wellbeing for their inhabitants and create new business and jobs in the region. Finland and Finnish companies are eager to work together with Indian counterparts.
GI: How is the Finnish government looking to support Finnish businesses “on the ground” in India?
Team Finland is a network promoting Finland abroad and helping Finnish enterprises to become international and succeeded in the global market. The core of the network brings together publicly funded organizations such as ministries, Finland´s network of diplomatic missions and Business Finland that gathers all services related to innovation funding and promotion of exports, investments and travel under one roof.
We have a very active and strong Team Finland team in New Delhi led by the Ambassasor. Both Business Finland and Embassy have been getting additional resources to serve the Finnish companies in many ways. They search for business leads and open tenders, host events and prepare insights for Indian market opportunities. They also work closely with national key target groups and state level policy-makers, business and science leaders and media personalities in order to provide a fruitful network of connections for Finnish companies.
GI: What role can accelerators (and aggregators) play in bringing innovative Finnish solutions to Indian markets? How can these accelerators work with the Government of Finland to support export of Finnish innovation?
Finland’s success as one of the most competitive and open economies in the world is based on strong public-private partnerships, an investment friendly environment and excellent educational and innovation systems.
Participating in an accelerator programme is an excellent way to promote innovative Finnish solutions abroad and learn from the market. Through them a company has a chance to validate the product-market-fit and to create contacts with potential investors, partners and customers in the international target market. Accelerator services and programs can support young, growth-seeking start-ups and SMEs with international potential. They provide tailored services such as funding, expertise, offices, experience, networks, connections, culture know-how, risk sharing and credibility.
GI: Recently you were in India & especially Uttar Pradesh – could you please let us have your key takeaways from the trip especially with regards to opportunities for Finnish companies?
I was delighted to visit the city of Lucknow and the fast developing state of Uttar Pradesh during my trip to India last October.
I’m confident that smart solutions and concepts of Finnish companies can also support Uttar Pradesh to implement the development plans of the mission “Smart City Lucknow”. Together with the officials from the Uttar Pradesh government we are currently identifying the concrete areas of official, business and technology cooperation.
Image: (c) Finland’s Ministry of the Environment homepage