How Singaporean companies and Finnish smart city solutions find their match

Singaporean companies and Finnish smart, sustainable city solutions complement each other. But how can they find the best partners to work with? Irma Ylikangas wants to make the process as easy as possible for companies.

Janne Hirvonen

The world’s awash with superb, ground-breaking smart city solutions. The big ones are rather prominent, but smaller ones become harder to spot. It makes sense, then, that the companies that would be the best business partners for you can be easy to miss. If only someone could save you the struggle and bring them to you…

Joining curated business matchmaking events will ease companies’ efforts. Irma Ylikangas, Senior Business Advisor and Singapore expert at Helsinki Partners, has been connecting Finnish and Singaporean companies for years. She wishes to see more of them join forces and create smart city solutions together.

“Singapore and Finland both have very active business environments,” she says. “Things proceed fast when there is a common interest.”

A network of known organisers adds an element of trust. For many years, Helsinki Partners has been working with Singaporean and Finnish partner organisations, such as HDB, BCA, MOHH, IPI Singapore, Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab, Geoworks, and The Finnish Embassy in Singapore.

Matchmaking events focus on fulfilling a real need. After identifying the need for a specific technology or solution, delegations consisting of relevant Finnish business representatives travel to Singapore. The visits usually include seminars, pitching sessions, and one-on-one meetings. This approach allows both small and large companies to find connections in Singapore where a clear competitive advantage is needed to succeed.

Irma Ylikangas helps Singaporean companies find business in Finland.
© Petri Mast

Creating business between countries requires long-term commitment. We have helped to open doors and arrange events where companies have been able to find suitable business contacts. This has been very much appreciated.

Irma Ylikangas – Senior Business Advisor at Helsinki Partners

Smart city topics connect Singaporean and Finnish businesses

Singapore and Finland are highly advanced technologically and leading smart city nations. Both appreciate high-tech solutions and strive to create a well-functioning environment for residents, visitors, and businesses alike. It’s therefore natural that the co-operation focuses mainly on smart city topics.

Similar goals have helped find common ground. In both countries, government, and city authorities highly support digitalisation in improving the functionality and quality of residents’ everyday life. For example, the Singaporean Government has been running the Smart Nation initiative for many years to drive digitalisation and the adoption of smart technologies to provide its citizens the best homes possible.

Helsinki Metropolitan has actively worked for years to achieve the same goal. Digitalisation also aids at reaching carbon neutrality targets which Helsinki aims to achieve by 2030. Consequently, the businesses in the capital city region and throughout Finland have become some of the global leaders in digitalising the built environment.

Doors to Asian and European markets

Singapore and Finland are great starting points for companies looking to expand operations to their respective continents. Both countries have stable business environments and rank among the top countries for low corruption. In Asia, Finland is known for innovations and reliable technologies, and Singapore’s economy makes the country a great place for innovation hubs. Geographically, Singapore is ideally placed to reach customers in Asia while Finland has easy connections to Europe, Russia, Asia, and North America.

Getting support from the likes of Helsinki Partners and the Singaporean partner organisation Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab will make expansion even easier: Helsinki Partners assists companies from Singapore and Asia in European expansion and matches foreign companies with solutions and service providers from Finland. The Lab, on the other hand, helps Finnish companies to set up their business and grow in Singapore or to enter and expand in the Asian market.

Matchmaking events have been a great tool to accelerate business cooperation. The events and collaboration of other kinds have direct results, pilot projects, and signed business agreements. Both the business ecosystems and the nations benefit from the results – the exchange of skills and know-how, new business opportunities, and job creation.

“Finnish data management, IoT and digitalisation solutions for the built environment as well as new technologies, for  example indoor air quality, have resonated with Singaporean companies,” clarifies Irma Ylikangas. “New solutions in urban sustainability, energy efficiency, and a carbon-free environment to combat climate change are also very welcome.”

“However, there’s still a lot we can learn from each other! Aside from the matchmaking events, we welcome Singaporean companies to come to Helsinki and experience the wide variety of piloting opportunities in our urban testbeds. The culture of openness and information-sharing ensures you’ll learn everything there is to know about the smart city ecosystem in Helsinki from the people themselves.”

Juhana Hurtig

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