Cooperation and exchange of experience
Technology, defence and health are the three main focus areas for the State Visit to Finland by Their Majesties The King and Queen. Cooperation and opportunities in these crucial areas were on today’s agenda.
Norwegian trade and industry is undergoing a period of restructuring, especially as a result of the downturn in the petroleum sector. Finland faced similar challenges when key industries in the Finnish economy experienced a decline some years ago. Norway can learn from Finland’s experience. While the two countries already enjoy extensive cooperation, there is great potential to expand this even further.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland, Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie and Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide are all participating as representatives of the Norwegian Government, and nearly 90 representatives of Norwegian companies are part of the delegation accompanying the King and Queen.
New technology for gaming and education
King Harald and Queen Sonja attended today’s Finnish-Norwegian business seminar together with President of the Republic of Finland Mr Sauli Niinistö and his wife Mrs Jenni Haukio. Following the opening remarks, they were given a presentation of Norwegian defence materiel, after which they learned about some of the technological opportunities of tomorrow.
Oslo Edtech Cluster is one of the companies that gave a presentation about its activities. The company works with the development, commercialisation and export of Norwegian learning technology. Finnish entrepreneur Mervi Pänkäläinen presented his Mightifier Application for the King and Queen. The app aims to develop social skills by teaching children how to give positive feedback based on their classmates’ daily behaviour.
In the workshop entitled “Games on”, the King and Queen had a chance to learn more about the Finnish company Colossal Order and the Norwegian company Snow Castle Games. Gaming technology is currently a much larger industry in Finland than in Norway, but the Queen was especially enthusiastic about the Norwegian-developed Fun Run 2 game, and she was challenged to play a round against the Finnish First Lady.
Modern technology adapted to smart phones and tablets – preferably with an element of gaming – opens up new possibilities in education. It creates new ways of conveying information as an alternative to traditional teaching methods, and makes it possible to disseminate knowledge in places that have previously not had access to education.
Introduced a fourth focus area: Gender equality
Today’s business seminar brought together over 300 representatives of Finnish and Norwegian trade and industry. Queen Sonja spoke during the luncheon and introduced another important focus area into the discussion. The Queen noted that both Finland and Norway are world leaders in gender equality, and other countries look to them for guidance on gender equality issues. Despite this, only 16 per cent of Norwegian business leaders and 28 per cent of their Finnish counterparts are women.
“Technology, defence and health are the three main focus areas for this visit. These are sectors where we hope to further develop our cooperation and strengthen our bilateral relations. In addition to all these issues on our bilateral agenda - why not add a fourth focus area that we could all bear in mind: Why not support each other to secure that we are not stuck in old mindsets concerning gender equality? Aren't these aspects also relevant for productivity and competitiveness?”
Focus on health
This afternoon the entourage travelled to Biomedicum, a research and educational institution for medical sciences under Helsinki University Central Hospital, where Erik Fosse led a discussion on health, innovation and technology – an area with enormous potential for business activity and positive outcomes for patients and the health service.
Today’s business-oriented programme was concluded at the Fiskartorpet conference hotel with a roundtable discussion between representatives of companies in the maritime industry, defence, energy, mining and infrastructure.
This evening the King and Queen and President Niinistö and Mrs Haukio will attend a reception hosted by Ambassador Åge Grutle. The reception will include a concert led by jazz musician Håkon Kornstad.
Tomorrow the King and Queen will travel to Oulu in northern Finland, where their programme will include a visit to the Nokia factory.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.