TALLINN - For the first time, Estonia and Finland will compete in innovation, where Estonian companies will have the opportunity to apply for the quality innovation award from Finland. At the end of last year the Estonian Association for Quality, the Finnish Society for Quality, and Enterprise Estonia concluded a co-operation agreement according to which Estonian entrepreneurs can compete for the Finnish quality innovation award together with their Finnish neighbors from this year.
“This is something very extraordinary because this is the first of its kind. Innovation prizes have so far been awarded at a national level, but this is not in line with the economic co-operation of today, which extends across state borders,” says the initiator of the idea of the project and expert of the Estonian Management Quality Award, Tonu Hein.
While years ago Estonia was considered Finland’s little brother as far as innovation was concerned, today, Estonia has become a considerable partner. “For years, Estonians have gone to study in Finland. Today, however, the Finnish public is saying that they can also learn something from Estonia. We have been more successful in some things, such as e-solutions,” says Hein.
The greatest value of participating in the award process is the possibility of comparing Estonia’s innovative achievements with those of their neighbors. The necessary contacts can be established and an additional market can be found in Finland for Estonian products and services. “Smart people with their innovations will meet, and synergy is created; as a result, new innovations will hopefully be born,” Hein noted.
The project manager for the quality innovation award of the Finnish Society for Quality, Timo Tulonen, says that the tradition of quality innovation awards that began in Finland in 2007, as well as the decision to commence co-operation between Estonia and Finland, are of great importance. “Innovation is of utmost importance in Estonia, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Unlike China and India, we cannot compete with a low price policy; good quality and innovation is the only way to being competitive on the international market. Co-operation with Estonia is a natural step, because we have a very similar format for assessing innovations. Co-operation and comparing innovations will give us more strength to compete on the international market,” Tulonen explained.
Hein encourages all organizations that feel they have achieved something special to participate in the competition. The candidates can submit to the competition new information, skills, technology, products, technical solutions, designs or brands, services, work methods, management models, or public services created in a new way.
The awards gala will take place in Helsinki on Nov. 11, at which the winners will be announced and where the top innovations of both countries will be introduced.
The winners will have the chance to take a trip on the ‘Oasis of the Sea,’ the Caribbean luxury cruise ship, which won Finland’s quality innovation award last year in the category of big companies, from May 7-14, 2011.
The competition ends on Sept. 17, 2010.