Speech by minister Toivakka at the opening of the Slovak innovation liaison office

Lenita Toivakka, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development
Opening of the Slovak innovation liaison office
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Mr. President, honorable Representatives of the Slovak delegation, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to open the first Slovak Innovation Liaison Office abroad.

There are many things in common between Slovakia and Finland: population of 5 million, capital city of 0,5 million inhabitants, language that is not so widely spoken, membership in the EU and euro, just to mention a few. Slovaks and Finns are also both people of a pragmatic nature.

And of course, the ice-hockey. Finns were delighted to win the title of world champion in Bratislava in 2011. And the following year you celebrated the silver medal here in Helsinki. So one could rightly argue that our bilateral relations have been particularly active in sports.

Concerning economic affairs and trade, our relations are generally positive, with lots of potential for growth. Currently around 20 Finnish companies are established in Slovakia. Although the bilateral trade volumes are not very high, companies in both countries are expressing increased interest in each other's markets.

We have also noticed the interest towards the Finnish education system in Slovakia, and would be happy to share our experiences in this field. There is already some cooperation between Finland and Slovakia in these matters, at the expert level.

Mr President,

I highly appreciate your interest in improving our countries' cooperation in innovations, research and start-ups, and I very much welcome Slovakia’s decision to open an Innovation Liason Office in Espoo. The main target of establishment of the Office is to bring an additional positive impulse to the development of the Slovak-Finnish economic, scientific and research cooperation. I believe there is a lot of potential for us to cooperate in these fields.

Finland is the leading country in the field of clean technologies. You might know that we were ranked number two in Global Cleantech Innovation index last year. I believe we could strengthen the cooperation in this field, especially in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energies. In addition to focusing on the education, there is a need to support innovations in order to keep the society competitive.

This is particularly important to countries like Slovakia and Finland who both have open and export-driven economies. Innovations are an important sector in which even small countries can get more dynamics to their economy.

The liaison office with its activities will help to develop cooperation between Finnish and Slovak universities and scientific research institutions, technology transfer, development of start-up ecosystems and mobility, as well as financing through venture capital. And speaking of start-ups, I hope to see many Slovak companies taking part in Slush, the largest start-up event in Northern Europe, this November.

Mr. President,

I am very pleased that economic, scientific and research contacts between Finland and Slovakia are developing actively and opening of the Innovation Liaison Office is a clear proof of it.

With these words I wish every success to the work of the Innovation Liaison Office.

Thank you for your attention.