The COVID-19 pandemic has surely dominated headlines across the globe this year. And yet, 2020 has treated us to a plethora of good news as well, with the following quintet of articles among the most read on our website over the past 12 months.
Bringing together a bunch of Finnish flavours to one serving, here are over a dozen companies generating sustainable solutions to reduce the environmental costs of the global food industry and to help people with keeping more balanced diets.
From developing solutions for hyperlocal food sourcing (Helsieni and iFarm), and producing natural protein from renewable electricity and air (Solar Foods), all the way to offering insect-based snacks and chocolates (Entis) and bringing variety to the plate with revolutionary meat alternatives (Gold&Green Foods and Beanit), these Finnish food innovators know first-hand that we are what we eat.
For the third year in a row, Finland was named the happiest country in the world by the World Happiness Report 2020, which ranked 156 countries based on how happy their citizens consider themselves to be. The report also assessed cities by their subjective wellbeing for the first time ever, with Finland’s capital, Helsinki, securing the top spot.
In addition to perceived happiness levels, the study took into account such factors as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, personal freedom, generosity and absence of corruption, as well as delved into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to impact people’s happiness.
“A happy social environment, whether urban or rural, is one where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions,” said John Helliwell, one of the report’s authors. “There is also more resilience, because shared trust reduces the burden of hardships and thereby lessens the inequality of wellbeing.”
With the coronavirus pandemic hitting the educational sector particularly hard last spring, a group of Finnish edtech companies combined their expertise to tackle the crisis together. Created from scratch and launched in March, the Koulu.me website offered free access to educational apps and helpful digital tools to support distance learning.
The brainchild of Spinverse’s Laura Koponen, the well-timed initiative had a snowball effect, with more edtech companies jumping on board during the year and adding more engaging content in a wide range of subjects including maths, science, language learning and design.
“Exceptional times call for exceptional measures,” pointed out Jouni Kangasniemi, programme director of Education Finland. “I am happy to see that Finnish edtech solutions and content are now available for continuing and meaningful learning throughout Finland and abroad.”
A pioneer in environmental activities in Finland and the European Green Capital 2021, Lahti was recognised by National Geographic earlier this year as one of the five European cities leading the way with innovative eco-conscious initiatives for the future. The publication highlighted Lahti’s goal of becoming Finland’s first carbon-neutral city in 2025, as well as praised the city’s commitment to a circular economy and water conservation efforts.
Among the most exciting solutions implemented by Lahti to tackle climate change is an app-based trading scheme for personal traffic emissions. Moreover, the city recently joined the European Go Green Routes project, seeking to improve the accessibility of its recreational areas and promote nature-based entrepreneurship.
“As the future green capital, Lahti will be looking for practical environmental solutions that can also be applied elsewhere in the world,” explained Saara Vauramo, programme director of the European Green Capital 2021 project.
2020 was certainly the year when remote working really came into the spotlight, forever altering the way that many businesses operate, regardless of when the world returns to some semblance of normal.
In the midst of this change in work environments, it was this article, the Chinese language version of which was published in early March, that really resonated with readers in the Far East. The article detailed a range of Finnish solutions suited for the office, from indoor environmental quality monitoring, mobile meeting pods and phone booths, to smart green walls, an indoor lighting solution and an exercise break application. With different regions around the world returning to the office at different times of the year, a number of these solutions would prove useful in the home office environment as well.
A case in point: Cuckoo Workout’s short exercise videos, with ergonomics and exercise among the key concerns of remote workers.
“Just like companies want to provide their employees with tools and practices that increase efficiency and make working easier, they ought to look after the wellbeing and motivation of their employees as human beings,” stressed CEO Veera Lehmonen.