New Commercial Counsellor at Business Finland Dubai Office

My name is Seppo Keränen and I started as Commercial Counsellor in Business Finland Dubai office on 1st of January 2019. My main responsibilities related to “Do Business with Finland”; innovation and export activities, as well full support to Visit Finland and invest in Finland activities mainly in the United Arab Emirates.

 I have travelled a long way with earlier Finpro and so I believe that I have extremely good understanding of the challenges our companies are facing in their growth path. During the years, my main tasks have included e.g. Head of India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA) region, program director of the education growth program; construction, logistics and machinery responsibility in regional consultative sales team covering IMEA and Central and East Europe (CEE) and account management in manufacturing, energy and environment fields. Before joining Finpro I worked e.g. for Rautaruukki Corporation (Iron and Steel) for many years in various management positions and also worked 3 years in same sector in Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic).

 Business Finland (BF) created on 1st January 2018 by the merger of two organizations: Finpro, which offered services for internationalization, investments and tourism promotion, and Tekes, which offered funding for innovation activities. Business Finland employs 600 experts in 40 offices overseas and in 18 regional offices around Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.

 BF has new organizational structure and many new services for Finnish companies and research players in Finnish ecosystem. Focus is on the companies that seek international growth & research organizations in cooperation with companies. BF offers today competence & market knowledge, contacts & networks and funding.

 BF ecosystems is currently running a few national programs for Finnish companies in the ecosystem. Four (4) national programs are also focusing to UAE: Food from Finland, Health & Wellbeing, Smart Energy and Visit Finland (tourism). Program teams get support from the internal advisors, global network (GN) and external experts in the target markets.

BF has recently launched new database for external experts. Aim is to get more expertise for Finnish companies’ international business expansion. When companies need new customers, partners, sales channel development, digital sales and marketing, market research, Mergers & acquisitions, founding a company or build internationalization strategy – they will find good experts from Finland and target markets globally from the Expert Search:

 The next step is to have here in Dubai more wider “softlanding” services for companies entering and looking growth in the market.

 Finland will participate the Dubai Expo 2020. Currently there are already almost 30 Finnish companies as partners in the Expo-project and more to come. My responsibility in UAE is to be the first local link and support to our Expo team together with Finland Embassy in UAE, which is highly important asset to our work in all activities.

 Expo 2020 will organized in Dubai from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021. The theme of the Dubai Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” with three sub-themes of “Opportunity”, “Mobility” and “Sustainability”. The organizers are expecting 25 million visitors from all around the world. In Dubai Expo, unlike the previous World Expos, majority of the visitors (70 %) will come from outside the UAE. Aim is to get more businesses for the Finnish partner companies and the companies who are considering join the Expo. First job is to activate new companies and innovation system players towards ambitious growth in UAE.

We all together need to promote Finnish offering and share information regarding Finland and then challenge our companies and link them to business opportunities more closely in our everyday teamwork in UAE, utilize more efficiently wide internal and external competences and networks.  Finland has the most attractive and competitive innovation environment, as a test bed Finland. There are also new process with permit for foreign start-ups to enter Finnish market, where worldclass success stories created.  Task is to keep Finland as a wanted partner to innovate and grow globally.

 Gulf area looks today very promising for all ‘small’ Nordic countries and now is the right time to link the forces together as much as possible and complement each other. I’m sure that at the near future the mutual Nordic Innovation center will be established also in UAE.

 Business Finland has had a remarkable role in the growth of Finnish businesses as well as in the investments that international companies make to Finland. Our customers see the funding from BF as their most important source for financing renewal.

·       Export of our customer companies increased by 24 % in 2018.

·       The SME companies that received financing from BF during 2014-2017 increased their turnover by 20 % whereas companies that were not our customers, increased their turnover by 13 %.

·       The amount of foreign investments increased by 44 % (in euros) last year as the 45 Invest in Finland customers invested over 475 million euros to Finland.

·       Visit Finland and the travel sector exceeded the results of the record-high year of 2017: The number of foreign visitors' overnight stays in Finland reached 6,8 million in 2018.

 Values in Business Finland are:

With Passion (innolla) – Think Big (isosti) – All Together (yhdessä) – With Sisu (sisulla)