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Finland – a world leader in health technology

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
30.9.2016 9.22
Column Päivi Sillanaukee

Health technology could be the engine of new growth in Finland. The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes and IBM have concluded a collaboration agreement on developing a digital health and wellbeing ecosystem in Finland.

IBM is to set up Centres of Excellence and Innovation in our country to develop new kind of services and digital solutions for healthcare. IBM's ecosystem is based on artificial intelligence. It has multiple applications, from imaging to cancer diagnostics and development of personalised care.

The use of artificial intelligence brings a new dimension to the clinical decision-making by doctors.

Globally, IBM is a forerunner in using artificial intelligence. The intelligent IBM Watson is capable of exploring vast masses of data. It is to be used in healthcare to support diagnostics and decisions on care. In Finland Watson is being used, for example, by the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa HUS for predicting serious infections in premature babies.

A project utilising IBM's expertise is being started in Central Finland, involving various actors in health and wellbeing sectors and the university.

Many Finnish companies working on health and wellbeing are also taking up IBM Watson.

The first National Imaging Centre of Excellence outside the United States proves that we have world-class expertise in healthcare and health technology.

The centres envisaged by the IBM will employ numerous Finnish top experts. Within the next few years there will be about 150 new jobs for digital specialist, health professionals and researchers. The centres will open up opportunities for growth for Finnish companies as well. Tekes has reserved a total of EUR 200 million for the next five years for supporting the companies to be created around IBM.

Collaboration may provide the Finnish SMEs with access to the international markets.

It will further consolidate the digital healthcare ecosystem in Finland and our position as a forerunner in digital healthcare. At best this collaboration will improve Finland's international competitiveness and attract foreign investments to Finland.

The agreement was an outcome of a persistent and systematic effort. This is the path we must continue to follow.

We have every opportunity to turn Finland into the number one country in the world in health technology.

This will also help us boost the stagnant growth of our economy, increase employment opportunities, provide the patients with better care and, in general, enhance people's wellbeing.

Päivi Sillanaukee

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Permanent Secretary

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