Sitra’s journey from a fund operating under the Bank of Finland to a future-oriented organisation accountable to the Parliament of Finland.
Decades of future-oriented work
The Finnish Parliament establishes Sitra as a gift to mark the 50th anniversary of Finland’s independence. Sitra is given the mission to ensure competitiveness and growth – and consequently develop the successful Finland of tomorrow. The organisation’s first research project sets the tone for future years with its principal aim of preventing environmental pollution. Sitra invests risk capital in the internationalisation of Kone – paving the way for one of Finland’s major corporate success stories.
Finnish researchers develop xylitol (birch sugar), partly with the help of Sitra’s funding. Sitra is also involved in other product development as it establishes the Foundation for Finnish Inventions. The first economic policy leadership course is held in 1977, embracing a spirit of experimentation, and futurology becomes part of Sitra’s agenda.
Sitra introduces venture capital investment to Finland. Meanwhile, the recombinant DNA project launches genetic research in Finland. The Finnish economy 2010 report predicts, among other things, that cars will run partly on electricity, and stimulates debate on the future in Finland. A solar village is constructed in Kerava.
While Sitra is Finland’s largest capital investor, its research, training and innovation projects also become increasingly important towards the end of the decade. Topics range from biodegradable implants to an information society strategy. Having operated under the Bank of Finland until now, Sitra is moved to operate directly under the Parliament of Finland. The state provides Sitra with Nokia shares that allow it to raise its endowment capital.
This era is marked by the awakening of softer values: in addition to economic growth, consideration is focused on the prevention of social exclusion, and skills become a focal point alongside knowledge. The pre-seed work, bringing together investors and start-up companies, is lauded, and Sitra begins its journey with digital information systems in healthcare. Decision-makers team up to discuss Finland’s future as part of the Finland 2015 programme, while the decades-long economic policy training is suspended in 2005, only to be eventually reinstated the following decade.
Sitra’s work on megatrends is reaping rewards. The electronic service channel is on its way to becoming the foundation of the digital society, and Sitra is accelerating the role of health technology as a growth industry. Decades-long work on the climate culminates in the national road map to a circular economy. Sitra introduces impact investment to Finland. The investor has developed into a versatile societal influencer, a genuinely future-oriented organisation.