From the happiest country in the world to the country with the highest rate of digital skills and high-tech solutions, Finland is known for many things. However, our tech-savviness makes us one of the fastest startup scenes in Europe and one of the best countries for new agile solutions.
With the world facing challenges like sustainability, climate change, and the promotion of health and wellbeing in all aspects of life, it is no wonder why many industries are investing in new technologies. Knowing it is the only way they will be able to guide their businesses to being marketing leaders and not market failures.
To counteract the time and the resources, it would take to develop their solutions, companies collaborate to form new innovative solutions to create something completely different. But how do you find partners to collaborate with?
I sat down with Harri Paadar, the Innovation Program Manager at Kaira Clan. We discussed how companies are using technology scouting to find the right collaborating partners to give themselves a competitive edge over their competitors.
Technology Scouting and Finnish Sisu
Carrie: Hi Harri. Thanks for meeting with me! Firstly and straight to the point, can you explain your background and a bit about what you are doing at Kaira Clan?
Harri: My background is in mobile tech and being the interface between R&D and customers. One of the major topics was bringing user feedback to the product conception phase. Working with different nationalities and cultures has given me a good understanding and helped me immensely with my current position at Kaira Clan.
At Kaira, I’m trying to keep “Tyres rolling” through open innovation in the automotive industry. We have a test car, Lynk&Co, and it is my job to take care of it. I am also technology scouting which means contacting companies that offer tech-based ideas meeting our client’s targets.
Carrie: Can you describe quickly what technology scouting is and why companies outsource it?
Harri: Tech Scouting is looking for suitable technology for specific purposes. Companies are sometimes looking for outside-the-box innovations or solutions that are not part of their core business. So they outsource this service. Instead of investing heavily in R&D, it is more cost-effective to collaborate with a company that has the solution already.
Carrie: What do you think are the advantages for companies in hiring a consultant to do technology scouting?
Harri: There is a lot of information and possibilities in the market. Since technology scouting is our core business, we can quickly scout the market and get the ball rolling. For example, in the automotive sector, we can provide a different angle on what kind of innovative ideas are out there. Open Innovation could bring, for example, two simple ideas together to a new environment. Then we have a unique idea for that particular need—service, feature, help, etc.
Carrie: How do you spot the possible opportunities for companies?
Harri: It starts from understanding the needs. Things like visions and strategies. Then spend the time searching for the solutions. We need to get out there and have discussions with people about what they do and what we could do together. But the needs are the base of everything.
Carrie: Harri, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing companies today regarding innovation and new product development?
Harri: It depends a lot on the company. Let’s take, for example, a well-established company that does not have a business strategy in the automotive business. It might be hard for them to picture themselves inside the automotive industry. Then opening a new point of view takes work. Startup companies, of course, have a different approach. So the discussion starts from another point of view. Perhaps bringing ideas to the table, How? Why? etc. They are more agile in their thinking.
Carrie: So the company’s flexibility and willingness to think outside the box are essential?
Harri: Yes, for sure it is.
Carrie: Okay, so putting technology scouting aside, what makes Finland so strong in their innovative mindset? From where does that come?
Harri: In the Nordics, companies are not afraid to look outside of the box. It is this out-of-box thinking that gives opportunities to new businesses. Of course, sometimes we have to help “open the box, ” but after that, ideas flow. And there is a thing called “Finnish sisu.” That means that Finns don’t give up so easily.
Carrie: Yes! The famous Finnish Sisu! It is at the heart of all Finns.
Harri: Yes. Definitely.
Carrie: What would be the one piece of advice you’d offer to companies struggling with innovation within their business?
Harri: Be open-minded and enthusiastic. You never know.
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