Technological change has progressed at a rapid pace. Within a few decades, the world has become virtual while we have started to apply biotechnology and entered the Nano-Age. All of these technologies hold similar importance to the invention of the steam engine. They have brought and will continue to bring profound changes to our economy, our way of life and even our cultural history.
At the same time, the focus of the world economy has shifted to Asia and to the emerging economies. In addition, we have experienced financial crises of historic moment, which have become the rule rather than the exception.
Finland has successfully overcome these challenges. Our expertise has been strong. Yet we will need to reinvent ourselves and have the courage to question our values and our truths. Mobile technology is breaking out of computers and mobile phones, as the same technology is being applied to all sorts of everyday objects: furniture, household appliances, buildings, clothing, packaging, cars, etc. The internet is thus evolving into a ubinet, an omnipresent cloud service. Simultaneously, we are entering a hybrid economy where customers are participating, through social media, in the design, manufacture and crowd funding of products.
Another ongoing trend is the emergence of the Bio-Age (similar to the Iron, Stone and Bronze Ages), in which everything that can possibly be made from biomaterials will be. The depletion of natural resources and the pollution of the environment, in turn, put sustainability technologies at the heart of competitiveness to generate solutions to the major problems of humankind and to contribute to the well-being of all (the sixth Kondratiev wave).
Bringing employment-generating growth and sustainability together requires creativity and bold pioneering – courageous politics is needed to turn the challenges of ecologically, economically, socially and culturally sustainable development into employment-generating pioneering opportunities.