illustration of ships and boats
The Finnish maritime industry has well and truly gotten its sea legs. Image: Julia Bushueva

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Maritime industry

The maritime industry continues to make a significant splash for Finland’s economy.

James O’Sullivan


With over 1 000 kilometres of coastline, Finland has always had to have a close relationship with the sea in order to transport people and goods. Here are five different examples of how this proximity is enabling a range of Finnish companies to thrive.


With winter temperatures which can plummet below -30C, it is not surprising that Finland is known for its icebreaker expertise. This knowhow was most recently showcased in Polaris, the world’s most environmentally friendly icebreaker, which also broke the Northwest Passage record.

“All the significant elements in Polaris come from Finland, including the dual-fuel engines, propulsion units, building and design,” Aker Arctic managing director Reko-Antti Suojanen told us in 2016. “Finland is clearly the leading country when it comes to designing and building icebreakers.”


This clean technology and marine engineering company has patented a mechanical sail allowing vessels to harness wind power to cut both costs and carbon footprints. The Flettner Rotor may have been around for over 100 years, but Norsepower has given it another lease on life.

“This is cleantech at its cleanest,” CEO Tuomas Riski told us earlier this year. “The technology’s potential to reduce an industry’s total carbon emissions is simply staggering.”

One Sea ecosystem

Finland’s former capital city Turku boasts hundreds of years of maritime industry expertise. But this is not a city stuck in the past: it is an epicentre of shipbuilding innovation in areas such as autonomous maritime traffic.

The One Sea ecosystem combines local expertise in the form of research projects, technological development and policy advocacy. One member is engineering giant Rolls-Royce, which has also launched an R&D centre for remote-controlled and autonomous ships.

“In Finland, we have two significant factors: a robust ICT cluster and a very strong marine cluster particularly in the Turku region,” said Esa Jokioinen, vice president of sales and marketing for ship intelligence at Rolls-Royce.

Port of Helsinki

The Port of Helsinki has grown to become the busiest passenger port in Europe in 2017, and is also the number one general port for international freight traffic in Finland. Meeting growing demand by opening a new terminal last year, the port is showing no signs of slowing down.

“In recent years, shipping companies have introduced larger and faster ships for the Helsinki–Tallinn route, while also increasing their passenger capacities during peak seasons,” said Kari Noroviita, director of passenger harbours at the Port of Helsinki.

Ship recycling

All ships sailing under European flags are now required to undergo certified demolition. For the Finnish maritime industry this presents a major opportunity, as it has significant experience in handling large ships in a way that is sustainable both for the environment and for the workers. The Finnish consortium of Turku Repair Yard, Meriaura and Delete is a fine example of this.

“We have strong shipbuilding expertise, shipyard capacity and circular economy know-how,” said Piia Moilanen, project manager at Tekes (now Business Finland). “This forms a great base for the ship demolition industry.”

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