Finnish footprints

You might be surprised how often traces of blue-and-white Finnish influence can be spotted in places near and far.

Here comes the sun

Finland placed second on the Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2017. This means that it is a very likely country for new cleantech companies to emerge and thrive. And don’t forget exports, either: for example, the Finnish solar energy company Savo-Solar just entered the Latin American market.

Give peace a chance

All of Finland celebrated in 2017 as one of the premier global peace makers, ex-president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, turned 80. Carrying on Ahtisaari’s legacy, the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), which he founded, is active in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere, living up to Ahtisaari’s credo: There is no conflict that cannot be solved.

Make it clean

Finland has been building water systems in Vietnam for over 30 years. Presently, the focus is on towns with 4,000 to 50,000 people, where key infra like sewers and water purification plants are being built. During the joint project, sanitation, hygiene and water quality have been improved in over 20 Vietnamese cities.

Winning team

Playing for the Winnipeg Jets, Patrik Laine (29) veers after placing a shot on Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, another star Finnish player.Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP/Lehtikuva

When 20-year-old basketball player Lauri Markkanen signed a contract with the legendary Chicago Bulls, all of Finland was abuzz. Similarly, when a young, sharpshooting ice hockey player called Patrik Laine joined the Winnipeg Jets and put on a show in the NHL, Finnish people were overjoyed. Then Formula 1 speed demon Valtteri Bottas won the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Life is good!

Taking care of babies

The Finnish neuvola, or maternity clinic, is a tremendous concept: providing all the child healthcare required from prenatal to age 6 at the same location, free of charge. The Japanese, facing dropping birth rates, decided to borrow a page from Finland’s book and came up with their own version, localising the pronunciation to neubora.

Light and shadow

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw is a serious place – but not without hope and light. Its postmodern structure of glass, copper, and concrete, designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki, celebrates life and human triumph over adversity, and earned the title of European Museum of the Year in 2016.

Face the music

The New York Philharmonic is one of many orchestras Susanna Mälkki has led as guest conductor. At the time of writing, she is also principal guest conductor of the LA Philharmonic and chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic.Photo: Chris Lee

Finnish conductors – Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Susanna Mälkki, to name just three – have impressed audiences all over the world. The MVP of the bunch is Esa-Pekka Salonen, who single-handedly revolutionised the LA musical scene during his tenure at the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1992 to 2009.

Walk like a Nordic

Nordic walking is catching on – with as many as 15 million people getting in on the act. Finland is the forewalker here, with half a million Finns swinging away. Not to be outdone, the Germans, Italians and Chinese are also going Nordic in record numbers.

The travelling Moomins

The first Mumin Kaffe (Moomin café) abroad opened its doors in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town, and another will soon open in Tallinn, Estonia. They are decidedly child-friendly places where adults can have their cup of coffee while the kids enjoy a true Moomin adventure.

Hei hei, my my!

The Finnish education system is a winner – as countries around the world are discovering. A Finnish preschool concept, HEI Schools, launched its first kindergarten in Baotou, China in September 2017. Founded in partnership with the University of Helsinki, HEI embraces the Nordic values of accessibility and openness, and is one more example of Finnish educational prowess.

By Sami J. Anteroinen, ThisisFINLAND Magazine 2018