Russia is the most rapidly growing market in Finland’s adjacent regions and remaining on the side-lines would be a strategic mistake. The Russia Programme (2004–2007) forged economic ties and opened business opportunities in Russia.


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Following the publication of Finland’s economic Russian strategy in 2005, the cooperation opportunities became a topic for discussion in the media as well as in the business community.

The key themes of the strategy – strengthening the coordination of Finland’s Russian politics, investing resources in know-how for doing business and dealing with Russia and developing logistics partnerships – were also incorporated as objectives in the 2007 Government Programme. Russia has been given increasing weight in the Finnish economic and foreign policy.

Sitra’s Russia Programme organised forums where representatives of the public and private sectors conducted open, informal discussions and envisioned and created new opportunities for cooperation between Finland and Russia. The forums were flexible with regard to discussion topics and schedules, and they also focused on trade obstacles, disadvantages and distortions in the hope of promoting their elimination.

The new flexible operating model proved to be effective, and the business community representatives expressed a wish for similar high-level forums to continue even after the conclusion of the programme.

Finland’s Russian know-how could very well lend itself to commercialisation in the international market. Finnish consultants with expertise in Russia primarily focus on promoting the export of Finnish products, although the focus of companies has increasingly shifted to starting international operations in Russia. Expertise is also somewhat fragmented.

The purpose of the Russia Programme was to encourage businesses to enter the Russian market and support their networking efforts. Subcontracting and the industrial park concept proved to be successful methods in expanding into the Russian market. They have led to the formation of a new processing industry in Russia.

The industrial park provides a safe way for establishing a presence and expanding operations in Russia. According to the concept, a private investor administers the facilities which house both Finnish SMEs and producers of additional services. Subcontracting emphasised equal partnerships which benefited both parties – after all, the economic structures of the countries are mutually complementary.

A number of the companies participating in the Russia Programme started their operations in Russia either by establishing a local subsidiary or collaborating with a local partner.

Sitra has continued to build networks between Finnish SMEs looking to the Russian market in the Growth Programme for the Mechanical Industry. As part of this effort, a seminar was organised with the theme Growth for mechanical industry companies in Russia (6 May 2010).

In Russia, there is interest in the development of low-energy, environmentally sound solutions through public and private sector cooperation and in utilising Finnish expertise for this purpose. Thus the Russia Programme established an environmental cluster and an energy cluster for the purpose of being able to participate in environmental projects.

The work continues by the Finnish Cleantech Cluster in the Lahti Science and Business Park.


Contact information

The programme team was assembled for the duration of the programme only. More information on the programme is available from Sitra’s Communications on-call service, tel. +358 40 548 0794.