Cooperate, that’s an order!

Cooperate, that’s an order!

Technology is the most important sector in Finland. The industry directly employs around 29,000 people and for each job the sector indirectly provides at least 1.5 extra jobs. When you think that only 590,000 people live in Helsinki in a country of only 5.3 million people, the figure of 290,000 jobs makes much more sense. Technology constitutes 60 percent of total Finnish exports and 30 percent of the whole workforce. There are 1,600 companies that are members of The Federation of Finnish Technology and they are responsible for 80 percent of Finnish private sector research and development (R&D). They break up the technology industry into five major sub-categories, the Electronics and Electrotechnical Industry (with a 17.3-billion-euro turnover), Mechanical Engineering (28.3-billion-euro turnover), the Metals Industry (9.8-billion-euro turnover), Consulting Engineering (5.1-billion-euro turnover) and Information Technology (7.2-billion-euro turnover), for a total turnover of 67.7 billion euros. It is way more than the 66.7 billion Turkish Liras of Turkey’s technological industry. So the question is how can the Finnish technology industry produce more than twice the added value with only one-fifteenth of Turkey’s population?

Yes, the technology industry doesn’t rely on numbers, one person can create more than a million; but with numbers comes other advantages and the probability of having that one special person is actually higher in Turkey. Also, the Finnish technology industry is dominated by big firms in terms of turnover. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) constitute only 20 percent and most of them work for the giants.

Actually, it is the greatest weakness of Finland’s economy. So it is not about the special people. Some people we talked to commented on the weather, saying that since the weather is so cold most of the time, they are more motivated to work. It might have an impact, I must admit, but working a lot doesn’t guarantee anything in the global market though it is one of the prerequisites. They are not cleverer or genetically superior to us. However, there is one great difference that you can feel anywhere from the biggest companies like Comptel to the startups like Hakema and Nordic Hug. They are much more cooperative, şeffaf (transparent) and tolerant than the average Turkish company. According to Richard Florida, there are three T’s needed in order to become innovative: technology, talent and tolerance.

Finland has all three. It shows up clearly on the competitive reports where Finland always ranks on top whereas Turkey is either at the bottom or the middle.

Turkey has a lot to teach Finnish companies but a lot to learn from them, too.

They are very eager to cooperate even with their most fierce competitors. Huawei is running over Nokia Siemens networks in many markets but the government funds projects where NSN and Huawei can work together. The idea behind this eagerness to cooperate is to create common knowledge and spur innovation. Also, they are very well aware that everything shifts all the time, so today’s competitor might be tomorrow’s partner at any second. With this way of thinking, Finland is aligning basic research and innovation efforts to become the technological leader of the future. One of the main areas that they chose was the Internet of things.

Pauli Kuosmanen, Chief Technology Officer of TiVit, explained that in order to become the global leader in the future, they are forging cooperation between Universities and corporations by issuing great incentives. Financially it is wonderful, but the catch is that you have to share all your knowledge created from the joint research with everyone else in the same project. Can you imagine that in Turkey?

Unfortunately we are a country where corporations have too many secrets. It doesn’t work in the technology industry. We are living in the open information age and we are way behind the Finnish. If we want to catch up, we should cooperate better. Just look at what happened in Turkcell, the government had to step in to solve an issue that the partners of the company couldn’t for years. It is a shame.