Business Finland is setting up a four-year programme to support the country’s companies and research organisations create novel services for health and wellbeing and expand internationally, offering a total of €80m-€100m in funding for research, development and innovation projects.
It is the agency’s second initiative in this space, following a programme that aims to create new opportunities for international business and innovation around individualised healthcare platforms.
Business Finland is the country’s trade, investment, innovation and tourism agency, formed at the beginning of 2018 through the merger of Finpro, the former trade promotion organisation, and Tekes, the former funding agency for innovation.
According to an official announcement about the launch of the Smart Life Finland initiative, the aim is to double exports for SMEs operating in the field and “create at least four new billion-scale business ecosystems, growth engines” in the country.
Business Finland director Hanna Rantala told MobiHealthNews the programme, which will be officially launched at the beginning of March, recognises that the boundaries between traditional health care and people’s lives are slowly being diminished, and focuses on the new business opportunities that the shift is creating.
“I think it’s very important that we get digitalisation into our lives and into healthcare systems, and I think there are a lot of things that we already have ready, that we are able to use, but we don’t usually have the platform for maybe combining all the information that is being gathered in different environments,” Rantala explained.
“That is something that I would like to see happen at the end of the programme, that we would have the kind of services that are able to combine different data or different information from many sources for our health and wellbeing, and I hope that this programme will boost digitalisation to help us in our everyday life.”
But Finland is already ahead of the curve. In 2018, a survey commissioned by Accenture, assessing nearly 8,000 consumers’ attitudes to digital health across seven countries (Australia, England, Norway, Singapore, Spain, the US and Finland), found that tech was “very or somewhat important to managing health” to nearly 70 percent of Finnish respondents.
And while websites or mobile devices were the technologies most commonly used by those surveyed to manage their health in the other six countries, in Finland, EHRs were the most popular, with 72 percent of respondents saying they had used them in the previous year - the highest percentage among all countries polled.