In February 2018, at the World Economic Forum, the India´s PM Narendra Modi iterated the importance of taking actions to prevent climate change, and stressed the role of India in the process. As India´s robustly growing population is requiring more and more fuel and other resources to satisfy the needs of growing consumption, it is also placing it´s cities capacity to accommodate the millions to their limits. After all, it is a home to five megacities with their population exceeding ten million. As almost 60 percent of the Indian population is still living in the rural areas, a possibility of accelerating rural-urban migration emphasizes the need for innovative city planning, increased use of green energy, as well as clean technology, that can be scaled.
Finland is a small country of only five million citizens, located in the very northernmost corner of Europe. In 2018 it ranked as the 3rd most innovative EU country according to the European Council’s annual innovation ranking, and the 7th most innovative country in the world according to Bloomberg´s annual Innovation Index. This is mainly due to human resources, innovation-friendly environment, intellectual assets and attractive research systems. Finland is an economy that has shifted from forestry-based to technology-based economy. It´s startups are booming in both cleantech and smart city solutions. The companies are providing award winning technologies that are aiding industries to be more energy-efficient and green, as well as making cities more innovative and functional.
Finland is a global front-runner in cleantech industry and India-Finland bilateral relations in the field of smart city solutions are already existent, as a Finnish startup called Citifier is invited to plan solutions for smart Chhattisgarh as part of PM Modi´s flagship Smart Cities India initiative. Furthermore, Finnish startup accelerator GOInternational is specializing in market entries for Finnish startups wanting to venture the Indian market. The Finnish Minister of environment, energy and housing, Kimmo Tiilikainen, was celebrating the potentiality of India-Finland relations:
“At the governmental level our countries have identified plenty of mutual interests related to renewable energy, environment and smart city solutions. In the future, collaboration in the healthcare sector could also be explored.”
The Finnish cleantech companies are providing solutions for renewable energy, smart grid, waste-to-value, clean web and IoT, energy and resource efficiency, air quality and clean water. In the field of smart city solutions, several firms have products aiming to disrupt the way we see transportation, mobility, energy and buildings and planning. All of them could have great potential demand in Indian industries, electricity production and grids, public procurements, as well as city planning.
Often a small improvement in the infrastructure can provide significant enhancements in efficiency. These improvements can be for example linked to monitoring processes, through which anomalies and weak links can be identified. Furthermore, solutions that are enhancing the durability of the infrastructure can improve efficiency significantly, as often the biggest losses are not happening in the capacity to produce, but in spillage and waste during the distribution. An example is the ProtectPipe, a Finnish startup which is producing an eco-friendly microbe solution that is removing organic waste from drainpipes and this way improving the efficiency of the sewage system in an affordable way.
As it is evident that the demand, supply and the right political environment for India-Finland bilateral relations in the fields of cleantech and smart city solutions do exist, the next step is to think about the implementation. How to bridge the gap between the startups and the Indian market? How to transfer the great plans of building and co-creating greener future, that are being heard in orations over and aver again, to the level of implementation and harvesting the fruits? What is certain is that professionals from both sides should be included in the strategy making. A comprehensive mapping of the opportunities and the risks would make the companies more confident and trusting. Both Finnish and Indian consultancies and startup incubators have an opportunity of a lifetime to help in co-creating and experimenting feasible solutions with potential stakeholders and clients in these sunrise technologies.
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