Published April 26, 2017

Annual Report 2016: Sources of growth and encouraging social renewal

The future-oriented organisation Sitra wants to make Finland a pioneer in sustainable well-being. We took big steps towards this goal in 2016. Sorely needed sources of growth were sought for the circular economy, smart and clean solutions and the use of well-being data.

Sitra’s role in encouraging social renewal also strengthened in areas like social and healthcare system reform, the basic-income trial, working-life issues and the impact investing ecosystem.

“The Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation established in June is a good example of Sitra’s determined efforts to combine ecological sustainability with new sources of growth,” says Sitra’s President Mikko Kosonen. “The foundation’s target is to build a Finnish reference area for clean and smart solutions that meets international standards.”

Sitra’s donation of 50,000 euros in endowment capital is a step towards making the solutions tangible. Sitra also promised to provide a maximum of 2.5 million euros to fund a third of the foundation’s activities. In addition to cities and the Finnish central government state, universities and a large number of companies in the region have committed to the work.

“Finland really needs new sources of growth, so the smart and clean work is just what we were looking for. Another potential growth area is the use of well-being data, and we are creating the conditions for this with Isaacus – the Digital Health HUB,” adds Kosonen.

No amount of growth is sufficient without the wise use of public funds. To combat growing public debt, Sitra has developed an impact investing operating model for Finland. The Social Impact Bond (SIB) is one form of impact investing. “The public sector can use the SIB model to develop their procurement practices beyond simply purchasing goods and services towards the acquisition of results and impact. This also means that billions of euros will be used more productively,” Kosonen explains. This tool is already being trialled in Finland in two projects.

As it nears the age of 50, Sitra is accelerating the implementation of its strategy aimed at sustainable well-being. This is an ambitious vision, but we are working hard to bridge silos and involve wide-ranging groups of people and experts. This long-term work is now producing results.

Sitra’s operating activities are funded by the returns on its endowment capital and corporate investments. At the end of 2016, the market value of Sitra’s endowment capital was 807 million euros, and the yield from invested assets was 7.1%. The Sitra annual report and financial statements published today provide more detailed information on Sitra’s activities, results and finances. Read the report here.

Year 2016

Results of Sitra’s future-oriented work

  • National road map to a circular economy. Sitra brought together 1,000 Finnish experts and the world’s first nationally agreed circular economy road map was published in September 2016. Sitra also decided to invest an extra 5 million euros in the implementation of the road map in 2017. The investment is intended to act as a catalyst for attracting approximately five times that amount in other public and private funding to promote the projects.
  • The Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation. Established in June 2016, the Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation developed by Sitra is turning Finland into the world’s best test bed for smart circular economy solutions. In practice, the aim is to produce 20 to 30 new business references.
  • Flows of money in social welfare and healthcare made visible: a service package model for a social welfare and healthcare reporting system. Sitra’s long-term work to create a framework for the social welfare and healthcare reform produced more results: a decision was made to use the service package model developed and trialled by Sitra as a national social welfare and healthcare screening method for monitoring costs and operations. A service subscriber can use the package to agree on the provision of social welfare and healthcare services and monitor how they are provided.
  • Impact investing. Introduced to Finland by Sitra, impact investing focuses on purchasing results instead of goods and services. An impact investing ecosystem is under construction and the Social Impact Bond (SIB) model is already being used in two projects: TYHY-SIB, which focuses on occupational well-being; and KOTOSIB, a Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment project aimed at integrating immigrants.
  • Megatrends. Sitra’s list of megatrends was downloaded more than 240,000 times, and it was used as a tool for planning for the future by central government, organisations and companies. Megatrend work has become one of Sitra’s most anticipated annual initiatives.
  • Nordic Green to Scale. The world could reduce emissions by four gigatonnes by 2030 by introducing 15 Nordic climate solutions. Sitra showed that reducing the climate burden is not rocket science – there are already solutions available!
  • Genome centre. The Finnish Government decided to establish a genome centre based on the genome strategy of Sitra and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. This decision is an investment of 17 million euros into the health of everyone in Finland. Strategies are not just pieces of paper that end up in the bottom drawers of desks.
  • Data exchange layer progresses. In spring 2017, the co-operation launched by Sitra between Finland and Estonia to build a national data exchange layer will culminate in the new Suomi.fi service, which provides a strong foundation for a digital society. The co-operation between the two nations shows the rest of the world the way.
  • Trials as a tool for large changes. The culture of experimentation is making a real breakthrough, also as a tool for wide-ranging social development projects like basic income and freedom-of-choice trials. In a complicated world, experimenting is a useful way to develop things, as long as we learn from it, make the necessary corrections and do not give up when we face a setback. The controversial freedom of choice in social welfare and healthcare is a good example: no one can know how it will work until it has been tested. The freedom-of-choice trials that Sitra has developed with five regions are now in progress and the results are expected during 2017.
  • + 1 Coming up in 2017: Making Finland a pioneer in well-being data. Isaacus – the Digital Health HUB will make Finland a pioneer in the use of well-being data. The work has started and new, internationally important growth opportunities can be expected.

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