One of the Government's growth policy priorities is to accelerate growth in the health sector. On 14 June 2016, the Government published the 'Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation Activities, Roadmap for 2016–2018'. This gives further details about the implementation of the growth strategy published in 2014 and accords with the Government's key projects and priorities.
The aim is to strengthen the operating environment and thus improve Finland's position as an internationally renowned forerunner in health sector research and innovation, investment and new business. At the same time, an improvement is sought in people's health and wellbeing through the opportunities offered by research and technology, for example, and Finland's high standard of health care will also be ensured in the future.
The State has a central role in the building of an ecosystem favourable to research and innovation, for example by acting as legislator and funding provider for research and innovation, and in structural reform and facilitating the build up of business references. Reform of the Finnish health and social services system will increase the opportunities for innovative public procurement and for Finland to act as a lead market.
"The health sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. We have a great opportunity to gain our share of the growing export market and the increasing investment by making good use of our solid competence base and by investing in an operating environment that is favourable to innovation. By using the latest research information and technology and by enabling use of our unique information resources, we can ensure a high standard of social welfare and health care in the future, too," explains Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.
In the government discussion on spending limits in April, the Government decided to invest EUR 17 million under the main expenditure title of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for 2017–2020, for the purpose of establishing a national cancer centre and a genome centre, and for enhancing the joint activities of the biobanks.
"Finland is in a good position to become a pioneering country for health care, top-class research and global business using genome data. For private individuals this means that disease prevention and improvement will become more effective. In the future, it will be possible, for example, to determine the most suitable and effective drugs for each individual," says Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula.
With the development of applications and technologies, people have increasingly been able to collect data on their personal wellbeing in different ways. By combining health and wellbeing data and information on service use, a knowledge-base of international significance in terms of its quality and scale can be compiled for the benefit of citizens, service users, the social welfare and health care system, research institutes and companies alike.
"Data collected by people themselves on their own wellbeing could be put to use by renewing the legislation within social welfare and health care and on research and innovation. The drafting of new legislation must take into account citizens’ fundamental rights, data protection and a research and innovation friendly operating environment. We already have good experience of this in the biobank legislation," says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Mäntylä.
"The growth in health sector exports and research investments has been no accident. In Finland, long-term investment has been made in education, research and innovation in the sector, and in research infrastructures. Research carried out today will become the health care of the future. International visibility and partnerships require multidisciplinary and sector-specific cooperation, coordination and division of responsibilities between the actors involved," says Minister of Education and Culture Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.
The Roadmap was published on 14 June 2016 at a seminar held in the House of the Estates. The event brought together more than 100 actors in the sector to discuss new forms of collaboration, among other things. Ministers Rehn and Grahn-Laasonen were on the panel that discussed the actions of the State in building a competitive operating environment.
A recording of the seminar is available for viewing from 15 June 2016 at:
A portal (www.finlandhealth.fi) produced by Finpro's Team Finland Health growth programwas launched at the same event to market Finnish expertise.
The Health Sector Growth Strategy Roadmap was prepared and is being implemented in collaboration between the following: the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Education and Culture, research and innovation funding providers (Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Academy of Finland) and health sector actors.
Health care technology has stood out positively in recent years in Finland's export statistics: turnover and exports are growing, and the trade balance is very positive. Higher education in the sector is very sound and the quality of research is high. A number of new collaborative research agreements have been made in recent years between universities, companies, and university hospitals and biobanks. Finland is in an excellent position to become a top player in research and business in the sector and in wellbeing and health services and the new services in the sector. To implement the health, social services and regional government reform, innovative new solutions will be needed to support the renewal of activities so as to improve productivity and effectiveness.
- Antti Valle, Industrial Counsellor, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Chair of Growth Strategy Steering Group, tel. +358 29 506 0140
- Hannu Väänänen, Special Adviser to Minister of Economic Affairs, tel. +358 50 410 4909
- Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 29 516 3382
- Erja Heikkinen, Counsellor for Science Affairs, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 29 533 0101
- Marja Makarow, Vice President, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 29 533 5002
- Anssi Pulkkinen, Director, Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, tel. +358 50 5514 509