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Sitra survey: plenty of trust but funding and business expertise needed – impetus from data for joint innovation

For Finnish data-sharing networks and ecosystems, data is an enabler and raw material for joint innovation. Most respondents to a survey commissioned by Sitra say that their data networks have gained significant benefits from collaboration. The main problems they face are business growth and the lack of resources within network organisations.


Katri Korhonen

Specialist, Competitiveness through data


The growing data economy offers business opportunities that Finnish companies have been quick to seize. Collaboration is also an asset in the data economy, and networking makes it easier to meet customer needs and adapt to the ever-changing business environment. This is the conclusion of Sitra’s 2023 survey on the development of data ecosystems and networks.   

The results of the survey of data-sharing networks and ecosystems, conducted in May and June, reveal the strengths, development needs and future prospects of the networks. A data ecosystem or network comprises at least three data-sharing organisations sharing a common goal.

Two out of three benefit from networking 

Data-driven ecosystems are emerging in a wide range of industries. There are various reasons for this, and the survey responses strongly emphasised the need to develop products and services together with the network. 

A high proportion of respondents, 67%, felt that they had already gained clear benefits from a data network or ecosystem, with the main ones being customer and partner discovery, the opportunity to create services and new business, and process efficiencies.

“A wide range of benefits emerged from the responses: building concrete pilots and projects, reducing manual work, increasing knowledge and therefore understanding, improving image through collaboration and increasing knowledge management. So collaboration is definitely worthwhile and benefits both companies and public sector actors,” says Sitra’s specialist Saara Malkamäki.

Lack of funding and resources slow ecosystem development

Networking skills (82%), customer-oriented service development skills (66%) and scientific skills (63%) were identified as the key strengths of ecosystems.

At the same time, the survey results showed that there is room for improvement. Although ecosystem actors describe their activities as already well developed, they still have fundamental pain points.

One of the biggest obstacles highlighted is the need to grow and innovate their business, with up to half of respondents citing this as a challenge. The role of data in ecosystems is still understood as a driver of new business and as an independent production factor.

The lack of funding and available funding models are holding back the development of ecosystems. It is also difficult to separate resources for ecosystem and network work from the day-to-day activities of organisations. There are also difficulties in sharing and managing data. There is a need to further develop the structures for networked collaboration and data management models.

The commercialisation and marketing of solutions also stood out as areas for development (70%), which is also raised from time to time in the Finnish business debate.

Networks aim to consolidate cooperation and jointly-produced services

Ecosystems are ambitiously working towards close and stable data sharing between different organisations. A high level of trust in ecosystem actors supports closer collaboration. 76% of respondents rated trust in ecosystem partners as high or moderately high.

There is still room for improvement in terms of mutual roles, with 50% of respondents believing that the current grouping of ecosystem players is able to operate fairly well but not yet effectively.

Despite the high level of mutual trust, half of the respondents (50%) only monitor success through  their own organisation’s performance indicators. A more effective and long-term measurement of the results of collaboration could support the growth of ecosystems.

“The responses suggest that Finnish data networks are striving for greater collaboration and the creation of co-produced services. Overall, Finnish data networks and ecosystems have a good foundation and a lot of potential and ambition to develop further,” concludes Malkamäki.

The survey is part of Sitra’s Fair Data Economy theme, which uses projects and initiatives to promote changes in economic structures, increase the scope for individuals to influence data use, and provide practical tools for companies operating in the data market.

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Analysis: Better products, services and insight – data-sharing networks reap rewards of collaboration

Results of the survey Development phase of data-driven ecosystems and networks 2023

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