Professors Arto Lindblom and Lasse Mitronen from the School of Business visited the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) campus in Tokyo at the end of May. They were hosted by Professor Yuriko Sawatani from Waseda University. A high-level expert seminar was held in conjunction with the visit, bringing together Japanese researchers and business leaders to exchange ideas about the Finnish and Japanese innovation systems and the role that universities play in developing innovation systems.
'Finland and Japan share a lot of challenges in relation to economic growth, and we need comprehensive development of innovation systems to overcome these challenges. This is why it is important for Finnish and Japanese researchers and business leaders to meet and share their experiences and know-how to promote innovation and research activities,' states Professor Lindblom.
Professors Lindblom and Mitronen told Japanese listeners about the targets, key actors and operating model of the Finnish innovation system. The presentation also highlighted the importance of Aalto University as a producer of cross-disciplinary information and competence and as an accelerator of innovation activities. The speech attracted a lot of interest and inspired lively discussion among the participants.
'One of the special characteristics of the Finnish innovation system is very close collaboration with universities, companies and funders in terms of research and creating innovations. The advantage of being a small country is that different actors know each other and can work together to create a confidential relationship in research work and innovation,' explains Professor Mitronen, who also chaired the Tekes Serve programme in 2006–2013.
Startup boom initiated by Aalto University also interested Japanese listeners
The discussions reflected the fact that one of the challenges to furthering innovation activities is the caution that both Finns and Japanese have with regard to becoming an entrepreneur and taking entrepreneurial risk. However, the startup boom initiated by Aalto University was considered a good example of how a university can support and promote the creation of a atmosphere that is favourable to companies and entrepreneurship.
During their May visit, Professors Lindblom and Mitronen also visited the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo and the Finpro office in Hiro. These events highlighted Finland's exceptionally strong and positive country image in Japan and the respect that the Japanese have for Finnish competence and quality. During the meetings, views were exchanged concerning the ways in which Finnish companies could be supported as they enter the Japanese market, also by means of research and educational activities. The meetings also inspired lots of new ideas for increasing cooperation between the parties.
Professor Arto Lindblom
School of Business
Professor-of-practice Lasse Mitronen
School of Business