Successful Finnish smart energy, circular economy Thailand delegation

A Team Finland business delegation, led by Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti, Deputy Minister, Under-Secretary of State for External Economic Relations,visited Thailand on 30 September to 1 October (followed by Myanmar).

From left: Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti, Deputy Minister, Under-Secretary of State for External Economic Relations and Finland’s Ambassador to Thailand, Satu Suikkari-Kleven. Photo: Joakim Persson.

Following on the Team Finland export promotion trip to Thailand in 2018, the main purpose this time was to promote cooperation in the fields of smart energy and circular economy. Many companies with strong connections to Thailand or with vast Asian experience were included.

Finland has identified that there are countless potential benefits of mutual co-operation between Thai and Finnish companies, describing Thailand as a “rising star in the fields of innovation and sustainability. Thailand has a vast pool of companies operating in the same areas as their Finnish counterparts.”

This delegation arranged B2B meetings to explore collaboration opportunities in smart energy and bio and circular economy; biomass; waste management and waste to energy; and smart grids, with capabilities to solve crucial challenges related to these areas.

The Thailand visit ended with a Reception at the Finnish Embassy Residence in Bangkok, where all the delegation companies gave brief introductions: Allu, Betolar, BMH Technology Oy, CS Control Software Oy, Finnfund, Parking Energy, River Recycle, Sepco, St1 Renewable Energy (Thailand) Ltd., Uros, Valoe Corporation and Wärtsilä Corporation. These range from some of the largest Finnish corporations to mid-sized, innovative technology companies with disruptive business models.

Minna Vilkuna, Vice President, APAC Market Development, BMH Technology Oy. Photo: Joakim Persson.

In her welcoming remarks Finland’s Ambassador Satu Suikkari-Kleven told the delegates and other guests that she though it had been some really productive days in Bangkok, describing it as “the stepping up of Thai-Finnish cooperation in the field of energy and circular economy”.

The ambassador went on to highlight some indexes in which Finland ranks the highest or very high. “In a recently published study Finland is among the three most innovative countries in the field of clean energy and climate action technologies. From what we’ve seen with the Finnish companies here we can underline that this is really the case.”

“And the fact that so many Finnish companies have invested a lot of their effort and time to come and join this delegation I think shows what kind of interest there is towards all the opportunities here in Thailand,” said the ambassador and added: “During our meetings, the Thai government has showed determination to make reforms that responds also to the environmental challenges.”

Deputy Minister Nina Vaskunlahti in her address spoke warmly of the opportunities in Thailand and beyond.

“We have had two very good days meeting with the Thai authorities, industry leaders, business representatives and people from the ministries – looking for the perfect match. I think we have been very successful,” she said.

“Thailand is entering its face for 4.0, and who has the answers for 4.0? Finnish companies in this case! And this really is about partnership; there’s a demand and then there are answers -And most of the companies are not first timers – they have a lot of experience and expertise, from Thailand, Asia or from around the world.”

“When you are in Thailand you have the opportunities; it serves as a kind of gateway to the other countries in the region, so I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities, lots of partnerships,” continued Nina Vaskunlahti.

Interviewed by ScandAsia Nina found it beneficial that almost none of the attending Finnish companieswere newcomers: “They all either are in Thailand or they have been to Asia, so they have understanding of the markets and understanding of the needs here. They knew how to present their case. And they were able to touch the nerve with renewables, saying to the counterpart: ‘We know you have made a commitment to renewables to be this certain percentage of your energy palette, so what is your way to get there? Would we be able to contribute, along the way, in order for you to achieve your target?’”

The overall umbrella was sustainable solutions and how to tackle climate change solutions in various ways.

“In most meetings we had all companies together and it worked out because these were companies that all come from the sector dealing with clean technologies; smart cities and environmentally-friendly solutions like from waste to energy, how to deal with data and smart grids, how to recycle plastic, how to turn waste into building material etc.”

“And in this delegation we had a good discussion with the Minister of Environment and Natural resources and the Ministry of Energy. We met the advisor of the Prime Minister’s office and with the Governor of Bangkok, which I thought was a very interesting meeting. I have to say that everywhere where we went people were very well-prepared. So they asked questions and they were interested in what we were presenting;I would say a range of good meetings held that were very beneficial for the companies,” reviewed the Deputy Minister.

Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti, Deputy Minister, Under-Secretary of State for External Economic Relations, Finland. Photo: Joakim Persson:

In particular waste to energy and waste to biofuel caught the counterparts’ attention. “Waste is a huge problem and there I think it clicked, including how to get rid of plastic, and how to catch it from the rivers, before it reaches the ocean. There, we have start-ups and really great ideas how to make it happen.”

“The feedback I got from the meetings was positive from the companies and we have already agreed on some follow-up actions. It’s a matter between the companies, and at least follow-up meetings were decided and we agreed to have a couple of seminars where we bring the companies and experts together, where they can go deeper into matters. You sort of express your interest and the other part expresses interest in what you are saying. Then, follow-up is needed and that is something one has to pay very careful attention to. I know that this is a very competitive market; there are many countries offering solutions. I believe though that ours are the best so I want the Finnish companies to succeed.”

Nina Vaskunlahti also found it really positive that some Finnish companies who did not know each other beforehand connected thanks to the delegation. Together, these companies can offer comprehensive solutionsin which you can turn industrial waste into low carbon construction material, or municipal waste, agricultural residues and plastic into sustainable fuel. Together with Thai partners, they can really have a huge impact on making the society more sustainable.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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