Speech by President of the Republic of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, at the Finnish-Korean Startup Summit, 11 June 2019

Dear President Moon,

It has been a great pleasure to welcome you to Finland for your state visit. And now I am happy to see your delegation at this event.

Korea is a global technology leader and a dynamic, growing economy. Your achievements are based on an advanced information society and high-quality education. In this respect, we have many similarities.

Finland appreciates Korea as one of our most important trading partners in Asia. Our collaboration in the areas of science, technology and innovation is already extensive. During the recent years, trade between Finland and Korea has been growing. And I have been glad to note that it has also expanded to new sectors such as food, health, design and digitalization.

I am convinced that there are still many doors to be opened. We want to continue to deepen and diversify our partnership. Your visit is an important milestone in our relations. I am sure that it will further boost trade and investments between our countries.

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Finland and Korea face many common challenges. We both need to work hard on maintaining our competitiveness and the sustainability of our societies. Global problems like climate change affect us both. By innovating together, we are better able to rise up to these challenges.

We certainly need innovation from our major companies. A good concrete example of this are the 5G communication solutions jointly developed between the Finnish Nokia and the Korean KMW.

But above all, we need innovation from new startups and fast growth companies. They play a central role for the renewal and future competitiveness of both Korean and Finnish economies. It makes perfect sense for us to work together in supporting them.

I believe Finland has a lot to offer in this field. Our startup ecosystem has developed immensely in the past decade. Today, Helsinki and Finland at large are internationally renowned as a hub of startups and angel investors.

The role of the public sector in this development has mainly been to remove obstacles. Active serial entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurial societies established by students in many universities, have been the real driving force. The annual Slush event organized in Helsinki is of course the most visible proof of this development. In ten years, it has grown from a 300-person conference into one of the leading global startup events with over 20 000 attendees from over 130 countries.

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I want to thank our Korean friends for the excellent proposal to strengthen our cooperation in supporting startups and small and medium-sized enterprises. The Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday between the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups reflects the potential of our partnership and serves as an umbrella for developing it further.

In particular, I warmly welcome the Korean Startup Center to be established in Finland. I believe that the startup community is very open and eager to share their experiences and networks. The new center will create strong links between Finnish and Korean innovation ecosystems and promote our bilateral trade. Our businesses will have new opportunities to succeed, to grow and to seek international markets together.

I wish the best of success to all cooperation projects and activities initiated during this visit. And I hope that our partnership will continue to flourish in the future.