Artificial Intelligence in Finland
Artificial intelligence has the potential to change people’s lives in many aspects: business, education, politics, healthcare, and many others. In 2018, the global artificial intelligence market was valued at $24.9 billion, with the projected annual growth rate at 46.2% between 2018 and 2025.
The new technologies have long ceased to be exotic sci-fi fantasy material: also in 2018, some 37% of organizations in Finland used artificial intelligence in one form or another.
We are looking at an overview of the state of artificial intelligence in Finland and we will explain how this Northern European country has become a trailblazer and innovator in the last few years.
The first major driver behind the development of AI technologies is the startup environment and the support of the scientific development of a given country.
AI technologies evolve rapidly, which makes their adoption easier for businesses with less rigid structures such as startups. Finnish society is highly supportive of entrepreneurship and has built Silicon Valley-inspired culture.
The Northern European country is committed to innovation, research, and development (R & D) at all levels, both in the public and private sectors.
According to recent statistics, 3% of all people work in R & D functions, which is a significant share compared to other countries. In absolute numbers, Finland houses 7,707 scientific researchers per million while the US employs only 4,663 per million.
Finland houses 7,707 scientific researchers per million while the US employs only 4,663 per million.
Globally, based on the number of AI startups per capita, Finland ranks second, only surpassed by Switzerland.
To sum up, Finland has enough qualified cadres and resources to advance AI development.
The second characteristic that predisposes Finland to be one of the leaders of AI advancement in the world is political support and collaborations.
In 2017, the Government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä made AI one of the key points of its new digital development program, thus, recognizing the powerful potential of the new approach.
The Government showed intention to apply AI to a variety of aspects: finances, investment, security, labor market, education, and many more.
Authorities envision that the application of AI will boost business competitiveness and steer business processes into a human-centric decision. The Finnish government even created a $180 million fund to invest in domestic Ai startups.
To achieve the ambitious goals, four subgroups were created for overviewing innovation, ethics, data economy, and social transformation.
The geographical position of Finland next to equally strong neighbors allows for cooperation with other leaders of the AI revolution: Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The Nordic and Baltic regions are said to be uniting their forces to digitize their key sectors and exchange experience.
The global artificial intelligence market is extremely fragmented and uneven, with some countries surpassing others in their ability to adopt the new technologies.
Finland is a country in the North of Europe that, despite its small size and population, has demonstrated vast resources to develop AI and set ambitious goals for the years to come.
One of the major predispositions for the success of AI in Finland is its vibrant entrepreneurial culture and startup scene.
The country boasts a large number of qualified cadres that work in research and development and advance the scientific cause.
On top of that, Finland is led by officials who recognize the importance of artificial intelligence in the modern world.
AI has been acknowledged to be instrumental in innovating all public and private sectors. Lastly, continuous cooperation with other developed countries helps to accelerate digitization.
Business Finland is the Finnish innovation funding, trade, investment, and travel promotion organization fully owned by the Finnish Government.
In early 2018 they launched an AI Business program to enable businesses to tap into the potential offered by AI. The budget of the program is €260M+ and it funds joint AI research projects of universities, research organizations and companies as well as companies in their own AI R&D projects.
In addition, the public sector is funded for innovative procurement.
The focus is on AI, data and B2B platform economy with the goal to create new global B2B digital services. Outi Keski-Aijo, who leads the AI Business program, says that universities, Finnish companies and the public sector has been very active in their participation. So far about 250 projects have been funded by the program.
Finnish AI startups have received a pleasing amount of international venture capital funding too. “Finland has chosen to be one of the worldwide leaders of applying AI since as a small country we cannot invest as much as US or China to AI basic research”, says Outi Keski-Aijo.
"We shouldn’t neglect the significance of a vital and globally attractive AI ecosystem for our national competitiveness," says Pekka Ala-Pietilä, a Finnish Ai program lead.
However, Finland is strong at combining different technologies like RPA and deep learning, finding new application areas for AI, especially in a B2B context, and strong public services have created a lot of data to train for Finnish AI.
AI ethics and MyData approach are also high on the Finnish agenda. "We have a thriving ecosystem and tens of AI companies with enormous potential worldwide. My role is to help them succeed and get better funded here in the US” adds Niklas Kiviluoto, PhD, Sr Advisor of Startups and Growth Capital, Business Finland.
With so much government and public support behind the move to embrace Ai & automation, Finland's future looks extremely bright.