Estimated reading time 3 min

A new programme helps SMEs reform their business operations with shared data

This autumn, 22 Finnish SMEs will begin to build new business from data. The new services will share data transparently and fairly under common rules.


Mira Nupponen


Sitra’s IHAN business programme helps SMEs develop new business models based on shared data. The businesses are engaged in building fairer data markets where companies that use data responsibly and open-mindedly succeed with smart services.

Why is Sitra organising the programme?

The European Commission estimates that the value of the EU data market will increase to 1,054 billion euros by 2025. However, according to Sitra’s 2019 report, almost half (46%) of Finnish SMEs are hesitant about the opportunities afforded to them by the data economy. Likewise, a lack of expertise was deemed to be a significant challenge to making use of data.

Sitra’s President Jyrki Katainen has predicted that the operating environment will be even more difficult to foresee following the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, data has become the world’s most valuable raw material.

“Businesses are now required to have even more capacity for reform than before. As part of our international IHAN project, we want to help Finnish SMEs not only adapt to the changed operating environment, but also to evolve into trailblazers of innovations that use data in a fair way.”

Objectives of the IHAN business programme

“The data economy and ecosystems need new kinds of business models so that data can be used to create new services that make Finns’ day-to-day lives easier,” says Anna Wäyrynen, Senior Lead at Sitra’s IHAN project. “New business and value is generated in accordance with the principles of a fair data economy for the entire data-related network of the participating company: customers, the company itself and the company’s partners.”

During the pilot programme, Sitra will aim to test the tools of the fair data economy in practice and develop data-based business models together with the participating companies and implementation partners. After the programme, the aim is to develop the concept into a product and disseminate it for both national and Europe-wide use.

Companies selected for the programme

The application period for the IHAN business programme was open between 9 March and 5 June 2020. A total of 22 Finnish SMEs were chosen to take part in the programme. The companies represent a range of different industries, operating in the fields of ecological design, well-being, sustainable development, recruitment, cleaning services, building systems and health technology, among others.

What's this about?