Speech given by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at the 125th anniversary celebrations of ABB at the Expo & Convention Centre in Helsinki on 28 August 2014

Finland and Finns have been involved in a number of ways in the success of the electrical business started up by Gottfrid Strömberg 125 years ago. To put it in modern terms, Gottfrid established an agile, four-person start-up – a workshop whose products quickly entered the markets both at home and abroad.

It was thanks to Strömberg that Finnish homes were electrified in both the towns and the countryside.  It was also due to Strömberg that, as early as the Winter War, we were closing on the world’s frontrunners in the electrification of our industrial sector. Strömberg’s name swiftly became an idea associated with the electrical sector and one of Finland’s strongest brands.

Today, Strömberg’s legacy lives on in the operations of ABB.  ABB is one of Finland’s largest industrial employers, with around 5,500 employees in Finland. At 125 years of age, ABB shows no signs of slowing down. Over the decades, it has remained in good shape and has been strengthened by investments in research and product development. 

A firm foundation has provided a good basis for building anew. ABB has given its engineers time to think and its employees room to act. The results of all this work are there for all to see. New innovations have generated demand and growth.  We need energy efficiency, environmental friendliness, smarter power distribution networks and greater efficiency in the industrial base. ABB is today in excellent condition to meet these needs.

LIke many others, I would like to see more, ideally many more, firms like ABB in Finland. We need investments and innovations. Now and in the future, Finland will depend on exports, but will lack work and anything to export without investments.

So why should investors come here? We have a stable, predictable business environment. We belong to the euro zone and have a triple-A rated economy. Our society is democratic, open and corruption has not taken root here. Our communications networks are efficient and reliable. In addition, our logistical system works well.

Finland’s trump card is its skilled and highly motivated workforce. ABB’s multi-skilled workforce is a prime example of this. Finnish workers speak English, are perfectly at home with computers and, above all, are committed to their work. High-quality basic education, equality and our clean nature are the hallmarks of our quality of life. Some studies have even gone so far as to claim that Finns are a happy family!

Many of us are engaged in profiling Finland around the world as an attractive investment target. This is also done by firms like ABB, through their operations in Finland. They provide a model demonstrating that it was worth investing in this country.

Like other countries, Finland is now living through tough economic times. Our country needs to reinvent itself, both structurally and in terms of attitudes. To achieve this, we will need courage and the ability to take risks. These are attributes which the Finnish people have not lacked over the years. We are able to turn necessity into a virtue. Indeed, one of our key virtues at the moment lies in our drive to ensure our international competitiveness. 

Gottfrid Strömberg developed his dynamo while still a schoolboy. Today’s Finland needs people like him; gifted people who are ambitious, believe in themselves and are hungry for achievement, people who throw themselves into competition with the best in their field or who create entirely new sectors. Fortunately, in Finland we are sure to find up-and-coming entrepreneurs of this kind.

I congratulate ABB on its long, great journey! I also congratulate all of you who have contributed to this success in your various roles. I feel certain that continued success lies ahead for ABB!