The FinnWell programme — making healthcare healthier and wealthier
21 December 2005
For many years Finland has built up a healthcare system to be proud
of. Nonetheless, no society can rest on its laurels. The older, better
informed and more demanding population is forcing big changes in Finnish
healthcare as in the rest of the world. And one of the ways Finland will be
able to deal with these changes is through activities such as FinnWell, one
of Tekes´ biggest ever technology programmes.
Tekes, the National Technology Agency is the main public financing and
expert organisation for research and technological development in Finland.
Tekes finances industrial R&D projects as well as projects in universities
and research institutes. Tekes especially promotes innovative,
Tekes funds come from the state budget via the Ministry of Trade and
Industry. It's budget is 400 million euros, which funds
for 2000 projects annually.
“Technology programme FinnWell concentrates on healthcare and
well-being,” says Kalevi Virta, Programme Manager of Navicre Oy. “We have
two major tasks. One is to promote Finnish business and research related to
healthcare technology. The other, more complicated task is to help develop
the Finnish healthcare system and make it one of the best in Europe.”
Opportunities for companies
The technology programmes consist of research projects by companies,
universities and research institutes, plus services that support companies’
business operations, such as shared visions, seminars, training programmes
and international visits.
The technology programmes provide opportunities for companies to network
and develop business expertise and skills in international operations. In
the programmes they receive Tekes financing for developing products,
production, service concepts and business expertise and also the very latest
information about different areas of technology and business.
There are some 1,800 instances of corporate participation in the
technology programmes every year and about 500 instances of participation by
In 2005, a total of 25 extensive national technology programmes are under
FinnWell focus areas
In the FinnWell technology programme there are three areas of focus. The
first area is Technologies for diagnostics and care. The object is to
maintain and strengthen cooperation and create new business activity in the
field through research.
Some strong examples of Finnish expertise include imaging and calculation
procedures, neuro imaging, cardiological expertise, procedures related to
light, bio signals, non-invasive surgical procedures, mastering
clinical-chemical and bio-analytical measuring technologies, and expertise
“It is vital that we keep our know-how at the highest level and that
Finland retains the right atmosphere for development. A number of Finnish
companies are being bought up by international corporations and we want them
to continue doing their research and development here,” says Virta.
Healthcare IT related products and services are the second area. This
includes software in the health area, service and resource management
systems and wireless solutions.
“Mobile technology and IT go very well together with the production of
healthcare services. For example, this will allow new ways of using
laboratory service, taking diagnostics right where the patient is located
with a small device and getting quick feedback. We need to be able to
connect the patient with the hospital or healthcare centre and help them in
their care related processes, including self care in their own homes.”
The third area is about developing new procedures enabled by new
technologies. The object is to create new business activities, promote cost
efficiency of healthcare and improve its quality by developing cooperation
between the public and private sectors.
“The tradition of taking care of the patient as a person is a good thing,
but in the future more efficiency will become necessary. As the population
ages, there will be more and more consumers and less and less care
providers. You can’t just keep adding new hands to take care of the
ever-growing number of consumers. We need new ways to handle the flow of
patients, more efforts to use technology and industrial control methods to
find out, for example, what causes bottlenecks in the system. There is
nothing negative about being effective. The patient shouldn’t have to queue
and or wait when he wants healthcare, and the caregivers shouldn’t have to
work harder either, it’s the system that must get better,” explains Virta.
One unique thing about FinnWell compared to the earlier healthcare
programmes is the inclusion of the public sector, which is the largest
healthcare producer. Doctors, nurses and management will give their input to
companies and research institutes. “This will generate new and interesting
products, and is sure to generate real business ideas,” says Virta.