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2. Abstract of enterprises’ innovation activity in 2016 to 2018

Of the surveyed enterprises, 62 per cent were involved in innovation activity in the reference period 2016 to 2018. The share of enterprises with innovation activity was good one-half of enterprises in earlier surveys, around five to ten years ago. The share has grown since, and now in the latest two surveys it has climbed over 60 per cent, showing that an ever larger part of Finnish enterprises develop their products or processes.

Thirty-seven per cent of enterprises introduced new or improved products to the market. In addition, enterprises most often develop their products themselves. Two-thirds of enterprises with product innovations introduced products new to the market. Enterprises having reported product innovations generated good one-fifth of their total turnover from product innovations. This made up 14 per cent of the combined turnover of all enterprises in the survey.

A bigger share of enterprises develop process innovations than products. In 2016 to 2018, nearly one-half, 48 per cent of enterprises made innovations related to business processes. As in the case of product innovations, a significant share of process innovators also develop processes themselves.

Over one-half of innovating enterprises reported that expectations set for product and process innovations had already been met during the survey period. However, it often takes time to realise the results, and the results of innovations will be visible only in the longer term.

Enterprises’ innovation expenditure has grown from the previous measuring period, and EUR 6.8 billion were recorded for 2018, growing by around EUR 760 million from expenditure two years earlier. The majority of expenditure was research and development expenditure. The share of enterprises operating in manufacturing was 58 per cent of innovation expenditure, although the most significant increase was generated from R&D expenditure in service industries. Reporting of other innovation expenditure than R&D expenditure is very low relative to enterprises’ investments. It can be assumed that expenditure is not in this respect described fully in the statistics.

In all, 12 per cent of enterprises with innovation activity had equity finance in 2016 to 2018, and three out of four of those having received financing used it on R&D or other innovation activity. Every fifth enterprise with innovation activity received debt finance, and around every second of those having received financing and had had innovation activity used financing for innovation activity as well.

Thirty-seven per cent of those with innovation activity received public financial support. The share of those having received support was higher in manufacturing than in service industries. The most common form of support is government financial support, which covers the support of Business Finland, for example.

As in previous years, innovation cooperation was most common with equipment and material suppliers, consultants and private research laboratories and enterprise customers. Universities are also important cooperation partners in developing new, and enterprises belonging groups naturally innovate together with other enterprises in the group.

The data protection legislation has an effect on enterprises’ innovation activity, because in addition to some enterprises estimating it has generated and enabled innovation activity, it most of all appears to many enterprises as a factor preventing or hampering innovation activity.

The most common factor hampering innovation activity is lack of skilled personnel in enterprises. This concerns enterprises of all sizes. In large enterprises, different priorities within the enterprise are particular challenges for starting and executing innovation activity.

Manufacturing enterprises protected, such as patented, more often than service enterprises, but service enterprises had more other activities related to intellectual property rights, although formal protection measures and activities related to other intellectual property rights concern only a limited group of enterprises. In acquisition of knowledge manufacturing enterprises use more often than enterprises in service industries the information included in patents or standardisation information, while service industries use more commonly Internet channels and open platforms than manufacturing enterprises.

In the light of the survey results, the utilisation of data in enterprises’ business has become more common from the previous survey. The most important application targets of digitalisation were digital products and cloud services in 2016 to 2018.

The most common results of enterprises’ cooperation with research organisations were in 2016 to 2018 an overview of trends and markets, introduction of a new technology, method or equipment and product development. The most common forms of cooperation, that is, students’ internships and graduation theses and recruitments also strengthened further according to the views of enterprises.

Source: Innovation 2018, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Mervi Niemi 029 551 3263, Heidi Pirkola 029 551 3246,

Director in charge: Mari Yl-Jarkko

Updated 23.4.2020

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Innovation [e-publication].
ISSN=1797-4399. 2018, 2. Abstract of enterprises’ innovation activity in 2016 to 2018 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 23.3.2023].
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