The idea of creating the Team Finland network first surfaced in the early 2000s. At that time it was realised that, owing to changes in the world economy, the importance of external economic relations had increased and Finland’s success is increasingly dependent on the international success of companies. It was also noted that companies still need the state’s help on global markets.
However, the state-funded system promoting the internationalisation of companies and investments to Finland was fragmented and did not serve companies in the best possible way. For example, in their activities abroad, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finpro, Tekes and cultural institutes worked separately from each other. There was a need for closer cooperation between the bodies promoting export. Solutions to the problem were sought but the results were modest.
The first steps important to the creation of the Team Finland network were taken in the early 2010s. In 2011 the objective of strengthening activities on behalf of external economic relations and bringing Finland’s international activities together was recorded in the Government Programme. On this basis, two parallel studies were launched: the study of the working group led by Kone CEO Matti Alahuhta; and the so-called Finland House study.
Birth of the network
Both project reports were published in early 2012. These reports provided the base for Team Finland’s operating model. The working group led by Alahuhta proposed that actors promoting export should form a dense network managed strategically under the Prime Minister. The Finland House report demanded closer cooperation abroad and the joint use of resources. The new operating model was called the Team Finland network, so that the name would also work in an international environment.
Building up the network progressed rapidly. The Government approved the Team Finland Action Plan already in spring. The network’s first Steering Group was appointed in August. The chairman was Jyrki Katainen and Matti Alahuhta was the vice chairman.
The first steps of Team Finland’s activities in practice took place in September 2012. At that time the External Economic Relations Unit was established in the Prime Minister’s Office. The unit is responsible for the preparation of issues for the Prime Minister and the Steering Group and for consolidating the activities of the network organisations. Shortly afterwards, teams of regional Finland actors were set up abroad.
In autumn 2016, the Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn appointed a working group with a mandate to see to the development and structural reforming of the Team Finland activities. The working group was to put forward proposals on possible new ways of action and changes to the organisation and resourcing. Based on the working group’s proposals, it was decided that the Team Finland coordination would be transferred from the Prime Minister's Office to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Finpro and Tekes merged together to become Business Finland. Several practical level reforms were implemented in the same connection. The aim of the reform is to smoothen and harmonise service paths into seamless packages and remove overlapping activities. In addition, the aim is to enhance the activities of the international network so that services are easily accessible for Finnish businesses operating abroad as well. Business Finland will be up and running at the beginning of 2018.
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25 November 2016 Uusi Team Finland -johtoryhmä aloittaa toimintansa (Team Finland Board of Directors news in Finnish only)