Finnish FinMin looks to northern Sweden for economic inspiration

November 22, 2022
Norrbotten Handelskamre managing director Linda Nilsson (second from left) discussed the region’s development with Maimo Henriksson, Finland’s ambassador to Sweden (left), and Annika Saarikko, Finland’s finance minister (second from right). Also pictured is Sabrina Suikki, the Norrbotten Handelskamre co-ordinator of international affairs (📸: Norrbotten Handelskamre)

Finland is looking to Sweden’s Norrbotten county for “new ideas” that can help it tap into the same flow of investments that has turned its neighbouring region into a hive of newly established technology and green-tech industries, according to Annika Saarikko, Finland’s finance minister.

On a visit to Norrbotten last week, Ms Saarikko described its transition from a slumping industrial region to become the home of server farms and high-tech industrial operations as nothing short of an “economic wonder” and a model for imitation, given the similarities between the two regions.

“Norrbotten is an example of how it is possible to reverse the development in a weak region so that it becomes an engine for the whole country.”

Business leaders in Norrbotten and the city of Luleå underscored that economic growth in their bordering region was in their interest.

“Finland is a very important market for our companies in Norrbotten. Our countries have a long cooperation which we must continue to strengthen,” Linda Nilsson, the managing director of Norrbottens Handelskammare, a chamber of commerce, said.

In addition to being told of the need for investments in the region’s firms, Ms Saarikko also heard how improvements to the electrical grid and other regional infrastructure, as well as training, would make the region attractive to green-tech firms.

“Northern Sweden and northern Finland share the same type of opportunities and challenges in the light of the market-driven green transition. A close collaboration and a close dialogue is therefore extremely important and the key to continued growth in each country,” Ms Nilsson said.

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