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How Finland can move towards a fair data economy – influencers in society and economy pledge action

The key players in building the fair data economy want to accelerate the process and are committed to driving reforms forward in six main areas to help Finland renew its economy and boost competitiveness.

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Johanna Kippo

Specialist, Communication and Public Affairs, Sitra

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The core idea of the statement issued by the key players is that Finland urgently needs to create fair data economy structures and solutions to use data to renew business, strengthen productivity and prosperity, and achieve positive environmental impacts. Doing so will also boost the resilience of society and economy.

 “The importance of data as a transformative force for economies and societies will grow stronger in the coming years,” says Laura Halenius, Project Director of the Roadmap for a Fair Data Economy project at Sitra. “Finland is well placed to create data economy success stories, as our strengths include a co-operative and trust-based information society, a high level of expertise and a national will to succeed in the data economy. To harness the strengths to produce benefits, we must further intensify co-operation between the public and private sectors and invest in cross-sectoral management.”

Sitra is coordinating work on the national Roadmap for a Fair Data Economy. This aims to help Finnish operators to commit to building a data-driven society and economy in co-operation with others. The recently published statement, ‘the will to act’, on the fair data economy is part of the roadmap work.

The participating organisations are committed to working to reform Finland in line with the statement and invite others to join them.  

Accelerating the data economy is urgent

The growth of data and its exploitation enable new business models. Data has become a valuable new raw material that is transforming all industries and can be used to create new kinds of innovation. As a forerunner in digitalisation and technology, Finland is well placed to boost the building of the data economy.

“The challenging economic situation calls for new sources of growth,” says Kaisa Olkkonen, a board professional and chair of the steering group of the national data economy roadmap work. “Data and the new business models that use it can create a new competitive edge for Finland, but to seize the opportunities it offers requires a joint effort towards a common goal. We have created a tool for this – the common fair data economy will to act.”

Finland urgently needs to find ways to promote the data economy. Forecasts show that Finland is lagging behind its main competitors in Europe.

Moving forward with co-operation and swift reforms

During the autumn, the Roadmap participants identified the key areas where changes need to be made in Finland to ensure a fair data economy. The group of professionals has highlighted in their statement how the data economy development could progress with sufficient speed.

The key areas identified were:

  • building human-centred services
  • transforming business with data
  • strengthening Finland’s influencing in the EU and thought leadership in the data economy
  • increasing understanding of and skills in the data economy
  • building the infrastructure required for reliable data sharing
  • developing the funding models needed for the data economy and targeting investments.

For example, making public and private sector services more human-centred and fair is seen as a key area for change and means that services could support people’s life situations and the fulfilment of their rights. In human-centred data-driven services, the rules will be clear and users will be told in an understandable and transparent way how their data will be used.

For business transformation, there is a need to gather peer examples of how companies are using data through different technological solutions, provide peer learning opportunities for companies and support the establishment of co-operation networks, or data ecosystems Data ecosystem Several data networks can form a data ecosystem, “a network of networks”, in which the members collaborate with each other to share and use data, as well as to boost innovation and new businesses. Open term page Data ecosystem .

The initiative states that the training needs of the data economy transition should be considered in various educational programmes, but also the civic skills of operating in the data economy should be developed.

Joint public-private funding models should also be developed and investments targeted at the development of data ecosystems and data spaces in industries that are crucial in terms of Finland’s competitiveness.   

“The data economy creates a wide range of opportunities for different sectors as well as tools for coping with crises. It’s now important to focus work especially on sectors where the benefits of the data economy are obvious and achievable. These include promoting the green transition and making better use of health data and industrial data,” says Halenius. 

“Now, in particular, operators in these sectors need to have the courage and ability to share their data in order to keep up with developments and to create new business. If we can do this, we will  take a huge leap forward and creating the much required models for development work.” 

The full roadmap will be published in April 

The organisations participating in drafting the statement hope that its contents will be taken up in the government negotiations following next spring’s parliamentary elections. 

Sitra invited more than hundred representatives of the public, private and third sectors to participate in the work. The roadmap steering group comprises Business Finland, the Confederation of Finnish Industries, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Startup Foundation, Suomen Yrittäjät, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Technology Industries of Finland, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Finance. 

The next step in the roadmap work is to identify measures that will implement the will to act through broad national co-operation. The full roadmap will be published in spring 2023.

Read the full statement and download related materials on our website.

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