Domestic Economy

Multifaceted Deals on the Anvil

Business & Markets Desk
Multifaceted Deals on the Anvil
Multifaceted Deals on the Anvil

Finland’s Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen is scheduled to lead a 100-strong business delegation–the largest Finnish mission in history–to Iran in February.

Accompanying the minister will be representatives of Finnish firms operating in a variety of fields, including agriculture, environment and cleantech.

The upcoming visit was announced by Finland’s Ambassador in Tehran Harri Kamarainen in an interview at the Financial Tribune’s Tehran office on Sunday.

Dubbed as the “next big thing” and the “last of the emerging markets”, post-sanctions Iran has drawn worldwide attention. International economic missions have been racing to explore cooperation in several sectors and capitalize on trade opportunities.

The visit is a follow-up to Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka’s December trip to Tehran, leading a trade delegation. In addition to meeting a host of Iranian officials, the delegation held B2B meetings with Iranian companies, effectively paving the way for this month’s visit, which is aimed at cementing bilateral deals.

“Finland’s economy is not based on export of products and goods. What we are good at is the export of technology,” he said.

According to Kamarainen, Iran is a huge powerhouse in the region which is to a large extent self-sufficient in nearly “every product and raw material required, be it oil, gas, or fruits and minerals.”

The most valuable thing Iran requires in the post-sanctions era, as stated by Iranian officials on many occasions, is technology and knowhow, and Finland, as a world leader in technology, stands to match this vital need.

According to the ambassador, Finnish technology has long been present in Iran in different forms and sectors. Going back to more than 40 years, Outotech Company, a provider of technologies and services for the metal and mineral processing industries, has had a steady presence in Iran’s mining sector, undertaking various copper and iron ore production projects in Yazd, Kerman and other provinces.

“Arguably everyone in Iran has used a Nokia mobile phone at least once, played games like Angry Birds or Clash of Clans, both produced by Finnish firms, and got on escalators and elevators made by the KONE Company,” he said.

“In this new economic climate, we can bolster our presence in Iran and do what we do even better and in new fields.”

There is more to Tehran-Helsinki ties than export of tech and products, as Aalto University–the world’s largest and most prestigious higher education center located in Greater Helsinki–launched the first globally accredited executive MBA program in Iran, Tehran, in cooperation with the Iranian Business School in 2014.


“Finland is exceptionally good at environmentally clean technologies, as solutions and innovations on saving and protecting the environment are our main expertise and strength. And I think this is one sector where we can offer much to Iran,” the ambassador said.

Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Iran’s Department of Environment, visited Finland in September 2015 and participated in the Global Cleantech Summit and also held meetings with Finnish cleantech companies to discuss environmental cooperation.

According to the ambassador, the upcoming 15th Iran International Environment Exhibition, scheduled for Feb. 29-March 3 in Tehran, will bring in Finnish companies to survey Iran’s investment potential in the environmental sector.

Kamarainen noted that Finland’s large cleantech companies are currently participating in a project called “Beautiful Beijing” in China to solve the city’s pollution problem.

  Health Technology

“If we look at Finnish exports during the past year, the sector growing most rapidly is health technology,” he said.

According to Kamarainen, currently more than 10% of Finland’s revenues come from exporting health technology.

“Most of the world’s population is becoming older and the governments are spending so much money on healthcare,” he said, emphasizing that minimizing these costs by acquiring advanced technology is in the interest of any government, especially Iran.

“That is where Finland excels at. We have developed intelligent hospitals, using information technology for the service of healthcare,” he said.

  Energy-Efficient Solutions

According to the ambassador, Finland has very scarce resources and no oil or gas, meaning that as a northern European country that has to import all its energy amid long cold winters, the country has been “trained by nature” to find energy-efficient solutions to survive.

“This has forced every generation to think of and come up with a solution. And now that the rest of the world, including Iran, is thinking about how to save energy and cut down on industrial production costs, I think Finnish solutions can be highly useful for Iran,” he said.

Kamarainen cited the example of Finnish company Wartsila, a manufacturer of power sources and marine and energy equipment.

The company has produced an engine that has won the Guinness World Records title for the most efficient 4-stroke diesel engine.

The listing is based on the Wartsila 31 engine’s highest fuel efficiency levels, as its diesel fuel consumption is as low as 165 g/kWh. This is far lower than any other 4-stroke diesel engine currently available.

  Videogame Industry

“We have one of the biggest startup events in the world called Slush. This event last year brought 15,000 participants from all over the world and Iran has been participating in the event for two years now,” Kamarainen said.

“The capital circulating there and the exposure a game designer can find is huge. The event is meant for the young, brilliant minds with high imagination and creativity who lack the financial means to implement their ideas.”

The ambassador noted that Iranian participants had quite a good success back then and there is room for even more cooperation.

“I know that some Iranian game designers are working at Aalto University in Helsinki, which is one of the top universities in Europe that teaches engineering technology, along with business and fine arts. And the university campus itself is located in the middle of the business and technology hotspot of Helsinki”.