International Collaborative Innovation

In 2003 while working as a consultant in Finland, I surveyed a number of Finnish digital media companies about their exports. In response to the question “Do you have international customers?” most replied “Yes”. When asked to identify them, most replied “Nokia”.

When reminded that Nokia is a Finnish company, they said that Nokia sells its products in international markets, so if they sell a product to Nokia, they are selling to an international client.

At the time Nokia accounted for something in the region of 25% of Finnish exports so perhaps their interpretation of Nokia as an international customer might have been understandable. However it seemed to have the effect of reducing the motivation to export directly.

For these companies, having a giant in their midst created a dependency on Nokia, leading to complacency and a distortion in exports. Perhaps a legacy of that situation still exists today.

In Ireland, we have similar concerns. The location here of giants like Google, Ebay and Facebook was initially welcomed but is now seen in some quarters as a potential drain on young digital media talent which may restrict the growth of the indigenous sector here.

Finland is seen here as a role model for innovation, whereas it is no so good at exporting, while we are seen as great at exporting ourselves if not our innovations. Surely the two countries could help each other out.

There could be a valuable exchange of experience in this area between Ireland and Finland, possibly even leading to some productive partnerships.



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