Finland is one of the most innovative EU Member States based .The Finnish national innovation system is an extensive entity, based on education, research, product development as well as knowledge-intensive business and industry. The innovation policy is bound to science and technology policies, which together aim at ensuring balanced development and extensive cooperation within the innovation system. Eco-efficiency and environmental approach has traditionally been a baseline of Finnish production technology, which has been apparent through the research and development (R&D) funding and development of increased eco-efficiency in industrial processes.

Today, the national innovation system in Finland is explicitly involved in the environmental sector. Ministry of Employment and the Economy is developing operational preconditions for ecologically sustainable and competitive business life, and for the growing field of environment and eco-export. Hence the innovation policy includes a principle of integration of environmental considerations within all aspects of R&D.

However, eco-innovation needs and challenges of Finland are strongly associated with material efficiency. Performance in material efficiency because of the large share of energy and material intensive industries such as pulp and paper industry, base metal industry and chemical industry. The greatest challenges for eco-innovations concern high material consumption, the aging of society as well as low material productivity, energy-efficiency and high GHG emissions, which result from energy intensive industrial sectors, freight transportation and traffic as well as extensive earthworks and hydraulic engineering. The Finnish economy is based strongly on added value obtained from natural resources. At the same time Finland has abundant natural resources in terms of the clean forest, fresh water as well as peat, mineral reserves and arable land.

Finland has an explicit policy for developing a national innovation system, and eco-innovation is a part of this system by a strong emphasis on specific R&D programmes. The country also implements a large number of relevant strategies and measures such as environmental taxation.

2012 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Finland

Relevant references and links:

Eco-innovation in Finland: 2012 update

Eco-innovation in Finland: 2012 update

During 2012, Finland kept its leading place on the Eco-Innovations Scoreboard (Eco-IS) and was positioned in a group of countries with a comparatively high eco-innovation performance. According to the eco-innovation index, the overall eco-innovation performance of Finland is significantly (50%) above the European Union average.

The most significant changes in single indicators took place on the Environmental outcomes index, as well as on the Eco-innovation output index. On the Eco-innovation output index, the country’s performance improved 10% positioning Finland at the number one place in this index. Furthermore, the performance improved slightly with regard to the Eco-innovation input index, where Finland was also leading last year. However, the country continues to rank significantly (24%) below the EU average in the Environmental Outcomes Index, which again could be a result of  low material and energy productivity in comparison to EU-27 countries. In addition, Finland has recently invested in the domestic mining industry, whilst, this may reduce raw material imports and dependency however, at the same time it increases domestic material consumption (TEM 2012b.). In comparison to 2011, Finland has a worse performance on the Eco-innovation Activity index, which indicates that Finnish companies have taken fewer measures to improve their eco-efficiency.

Last year, the Finnish National Environmental Innovation Panel, led by the Ministry of the Environment gave recommendations that included a national plan for eco-innovations to support the markets and the further development of eco-innovations (Saarnilehto 2011).At the beginning of 2012, as a direct result of these recommendations the Finnish government launched the Strategic Programme for Cleantech Business, which is an initiative governed by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy that aims to promote sustainable growth and renewal through clean technologies (TEM 2012a).

The programme has three focus areas that are related to the support of the cleantech sector through the State corporate steering measures, creation of domestic markets for cleantech companies and spurring business growth through increased internationalisation (TEM 2012a).  In addition, the programme can be seen as an effort to improve environmental performance outcomes through eco-innovations, as the focus is on clean energy, energy efficiency and the development of an environmentally friendly mining industry. However, at this point, it is too early to evaluate the real impact of programme on different sectors and eco-innovation markets, and it should be also noted that the Strategic programme for Cleantech Business is heavily focused on increasing the size of the Cleantech market.

According to Statistics Finland, the leading eco-innovation areas continues to be forestry, clean energy production, energy efficiency in construction and industry, resource-efficient industrial processes, water treatment as well as waste treatment (Statistics Finland 2011; TEM 2012a.). In 2011, the Cleantech markets grew 10%, and the estimated growth rate of the Cleantech sector for 2012 is 8.9%. While the current share of Finland’s cleantech exports is 20%, the government has set a target to double the turnover by the end of the year 2018 (TEM 2012a).

Last Updated on Monday, 10 December 2012 15:53
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