Helsinki Business Hub has worked closely with various Singaporean organisations to strengthen the business relationship between Greater Helsinki and Finland and Singapore, and to spark new joint business opportunities and innovations within the smart city environment. What connects the Finnish capital region with the Asian business hub are their strive for creating a functional environment for people, visitors and businesses alike.
The work began already in 2017 with a delegation of Finnish companies visiting Singapore to find new opportunities. Digitalisation, sustainability, functionality and innovation were already then very much on the agenda. Since the first visit, the focus has been mainly narrowed down to companies offering and developing solutions and services for smart buildings and smart cities. As both the Finnish capital, Helsinki and Singapore have been ranked as TOP5 cities in smart city governance in the world, it is natural that this sector has a lot of possibilities for co-operation and new business creation.
Katri Kulmuni, then Minister of Economic Affairs and Irma Ylikangas, HBH discussed smart cities at CNA938’s Money Mind. Photo: Vera Hallikainen
In 2014, Singapore Government launched its Smart Nation initiative to drive digitalisation and the adoption of smart technologies to provide its citizens the best home possible. Greater Helsinki has also actively worked for years to achieve the same and the businesses in the region and in Finland have become world leaders in digitalising the built environment. Solutions using technologies such as IoT, robotics, automation, BIM, data and analytics, cleantech, air quality, indoor navigation and energy efficiency are readily available in Finland.
“Digitalisation overall has an increasing interest in all areas of the built environment. Digital planning and visualisation tools, on-line follow up of construction sites, digital scheduling for tower crane etc., just to mention some examples” tells Irma Ylikangas, Senior Business Advisor for Helsinki Business Hub, and an expert in smart city topics and doing business in Singapore.
One of Helsinki Business Hub’s core services is to match foreign companies’ needs with solutions and services developed by companies from Greater Helsinki and Finland. The base for finding these new business opportunities is a tight partner network consisting of both Singaporean and Finnish organisations. In Singapore, HBH works closely with IPI and the Embassy of Finland in Singapore. IPI, an affiliate of Enterprise Singapore works with enterprises to source for and connect them to enabling technologies, innovations and know-how from our extensive network of global technology partners.
Curated matchmaking to find the right fit
Irma Ylikangas presenting the opportunities of Greater Helsinki at Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology SWITCH. Photo: Vera Hallikainen
Together with IPI, KIRAHub and the Embassy of Finland in Singapore, Helsinki Business Hub has organised so far four business visits from Finland to Singapore. The purpose of these visits is to open doors, connect and find business opportunities for companies. The visits usually include focused mini-seminars, pitching sessions and pre-booked and on the spot one-to-one meetings.
Planning a visit always starts with identifying a need for a technology, solution or service in the Singaporean market and finding the potential solution from Greater Helsinki and Finland. This approach has proven to be successful. Both the host organisations in Singapore and the visiting companies from Finland can rely that all the contacts they meet are relevant. Being a part of a bigger delegation is also a positive thing for especially smaller companies in opening doors to bigger organisations. Especially in Singapore, where the international competition is tough, knowing and having access to the right people is the key.
[The events organised during the business visit are] very important events for our kind of companies, you can meet lots of potential customers which are quite impossible to approach alone.
Singapore is a gateway to Asia, Finland to Europe
For a Finnish company seeking to expand their business to Asia, Singapore is a good place to start. It is a very well-functioning business environment with very little language barriers. Though international competition is tough, results have been achieved.
In 2019, at least six Finnish companies started a pilot project or signed business agreements with Singaporean organisations – a direct result from the matchmaking events that took place during the business visits. Solutions that use robotics, automation, intelligent data and IoT, or provide solutions for data management or to improve indoor air quality have been successful. All of the companies that participated in the latest visit are also expecting pilots or business agreements to realise within one year.
The Singapore week for us was an excellent opener to the market. During the week we managed to get an excellent overview of the market opportunities as well as link with several interested parties for our products and services.
From left: Katri Kulmuni, then Minister of Economic Affairs; Pauli Tarna, CEO of Smartwatcher; Mitesh Kumar, Executive Director of Orison QEHS LLP and HE Antti Vänskä, Ambassador of Finland to Singapore. Photo: Vera Hallikainen
The latest visit in November 2019 culminated with Smartwatcher, a Finnish company specialising in monitoring the cleanliness and safety of indoor air in signing a strategic partnership agreement during the week with Orison QEHS LLP, a leading quality management consultancy and environmental impact assessment service provider in Singapore.
This year, due to the coronavirus outbreak, visits to Singapore have been postponed and the co-operation has transformed and transferred to digital platforms. The autumn will bring several opportunities for Finnish and Singaporean companies to connect and align interests. The coming events will focus on especially indoor air quality and the digitalisation of the built environment. For more information about the upcoming webinars and matchmaking events visit www.helsinkibusinesshub.fi/connecting-singapore-finland-2020/.
Events connecting Singapore and Finland
There are several opportunities to deep dive and learn more about smart city ecosystems in Singapore and Finland during the upcoming virtual events and matchmaking days in September and October.
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