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Five from Finland

Top index rankings for 2020

Whether it’s startup growth, sustainable energy or smart cities, Finland is looking to an innovative future by focusing on the here and now.

Julia Helminen

Startups, sustainable energy, smart cities, talent and a happiness hat-trick. Finland has featured in many global indices this year.

The turbulent year of 2020 is gradually drawing to a close, prompting us to look back and reflect. The unprecedented circumstances and resulting challenges have emphasised that the longevity of a society’s wellbeing can be measured by the building blocks that are being established to spur innovation, growth and prosperity in future.

Here are five areas where Finland has been recognised favourably in global indices over the last 12 months.

Finland in general and Helsinki in particular have a reason to smile, the Global Happiness Report 2020 revealed.

Emilia Hoisko Photography

For the third consecutive year, Finland was crowned the happiest country in the world by the Global Happiness Report 2020, which ranked 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. Additionally, Finland’s capital city of Helsinki was named the world’s happiest city.

According to the survey, happy countries tend to have high levels of variables that support wellbeing. These include GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption. This year’s report also took a closer look at environmental factors and their role in people’s happiness, taking into account data on pollution levels, climate, temperatures and access to green areas.

“The World Happiness Report has proven to be an indispensable tool for policymakers looking to better understand what makes people happy and thereby to promote the wellbeing of their citizenry,” said Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s editors. “Time and again, we see the reasons for wellbeing include good social support networks, social trust, honest governments, safe environments and healthy lives.”

According to the Smart City Index 2020, Helsinki is one of the most tech-savvy cities in the world.

Jussi Hellsten / City of Helsinki

Helsinki ranked second in the Smart City Index 2020, which assessed the technological provision of 109 cities worldwide based on a range of economic and technological data. The ranking also sourced residents’ perceptions of how “smart” their cities are in five key areas: health and safety, transport, activities, opportunities and governance.

Having moved up from its eighth position last year, Helsinki is on track to achieve its long-term goal of becoming the world’s most functional city by fully harnessing the potential of digitalisation. Over the last few years, the Finnish capital has launched a few promising digitalisation projects to improve the everyday lives of its residents and businesses.

“Our success in this new ranking shows that we are moving determinedly in the right direction,” commented the Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori. “The results also indicate how the importance of technology utilisation in cities has grown during the coronavirus epidemic, in a way that will likely remain permanent.”

Finland’s third position in the Energy Transition Index 2020 suggests the country is moving steadily towards a secure, sustainable, affordable and inclusive future energy system.


Benchmarking 115 countries across the globe on the performance of their energy systems and their readiness to adopt clean energy, the World Economic Forum placed Finland third overall in its Energy Transition Index 2020. In terms of commitment to transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources, Finland was outmatched only by Sweden and Switzerland.

“Top-ranked countries share a reduced reliance on imported energy, lower energy subsidies and a strong political commitment to transforming their energy sector to meet climate targets,” the World Economic Forum pointed out.

This year, as the organisation highlighted, the global race to net-zero emissions has been largely disrupted by the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, the pandemic also presents an opportunity to rethink how global energy needs are met and consider long-term collaborative efforts to ensure the sector’s recovery and future progress.

One of the top 10 talent competitive countries worldwide, Finland is ready to embrace the future of work heavily shaped by AI.

Jussi Hellsten / City of Helsinki

Thanks to its advanced ability to develop, attract and retain talent in the age of artificial intelligence (AI), Finland secured seventh position in The Adecco Group’s 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index. This year, the evaluation of 132 countries and 155 cities was carried out with a special focus on digital skills.

Finland scored particularly well in the subcategories of formal education, lifelong learning and access to growth opportunities, and was among the global leaders in matching the skills of people with the needs of the economy. Moreover, by actively encouraging citizens to acquire digital skills and to learn the basics of AI, Finland is well in line with global trends.

“This decade will be characterised by a re-skilling revolution with a focus on ‘fusion skills’ – enabling humans and machines to work in harmony in a hybrid model,” envisioned Alain Dehaze, CEO of The Adecco Group.

In Greater Helsinki, startups have access to excellent talent at reasonable wages and various government functions, the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020 found.


Greater Helsinki made headlines earlier this year when it was ranked as the world’s fourth most attractive emerging ecosystem for startups in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020 by Startup Genome. The capital region of Finland scored 10 out of 10 for both funding and market reach, and was praised particularly for its abundant analytics, artificial intelligence, big data and digital health expertise.

The report also highlighted that Finnish startups receive the most venture capital per capita in all of Europe. This year, despite the pandemic, venture capital investments hit an all-time record of 244 million euros for a half-year period.

“Finland is an ideal test market and springboard for startups looking to enter the European and global markets, with ready access to the eurozone and good connections to Asia,” noted Annamari Soikkeli, senior advisor at Business Finland. “Also, Finnish consumers are tech-savvy and interested in trying out new digital solutions.”

By: Zhanna Koiviola