Helsinki: Finland, known for its knowledge- based society, is keen to team up with India in range of areas like cleantech, ICT, education, environment and energy, as the two nations have agreed to double the trade volume over the next three years, top Finnish officials said.
The huge Indian market offers Finnish companies a range of business opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure construction, energy production, forestry, Information and Communications Technology, environmental and food technology, health care and education, they said.
Trade volume between Finland and India is currently USD 1.5 billion.
There is particular demand for Finnish cleantech expertise in India, Mika Finska, Senior Advisor, Cleantech Finland, Finpro said.
India's needs in solutions for energy efficiency and energy conservation, waste treatment, water purification and biofuels are increasing quickly while reliance on imported fuel added burden on the economy.
"These are all issues that Finland has dealt with over the decades. Finns have managed to cut down harmful environmental impacts while maintaining steady economic growth. By working together, Finland and India can help each other build an economically and ecologically sustainable future," Finska told visiting Indian journalists.
During the recent state visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Finland, the first by an Indian Head of State in 26 years, the two nations inked more than a dozen bilateral agreements, including a cooperation agreement between Finnish universities and Indian institutes of technology, and an agreement on the use of renewable energy sources.
Finland's investment in education and its policy of equal opportunities for all have paved the way to a knowledge-based society. This is the main reason behind the Finnish success story, Finnish officials said.
Finland's flexible secondary level education model and vocational education has already attracted global attention. Officials said Finland would be happy to deepen its cooperation with India in these fields as education is still the most effective tool against poverty and social injustice.
In the field of education, the Academy of Finland is increasingly backing scientific research partnerships involving expert Finnish and Indian researchers in fields including green chemistry and biotechnology, they said.
"We have been involved in active collaboration with Indian research funding organisations since 2005, and India is one of our key research partner countries," Jaana Roos, Counsellor of Education, Department of Higher Education and Science Policy at the Ministry of Education and Culture said.
"There are ongoing projects, particularly in the fields of cleantech, geology, biotechnology, green chemistry and nanoscience," she said.
The recent MoUs signed between IIT's and Finnish universities would go a long way to boost bilateral scientific and technological cooperation and enhance collaboration between the scientists of the two nations, Satu Maki-Lassila, Special Government Advisor at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture said.
On the trade front, Finnish officials said that during the past decade, the emphasis of bilateral relations has been on promotion of commercial and economic cooperation.
"India's international role has become stronger and the country has enormous economic potential. We would like to encourage Finnish companies to capitalise on India's growing business opportunities. Similarly, Indian companies have much to gain from what Finland has to offer," a senior Finnish official said.
Already 120 Finnish companies, including Nokia have established operations in India. Over 20 Indian companies, including HCL Technologies, Infosys and TCS have been operating in Finland.
Trade between Finland and India countries has grown at a steady pace but still remains modest in the light of the potential volumes, the official said.
During the visit of Mukherjee, the two governments agreed to double trade volumes between India and Finland over the next three years from the current USD 1.5 billion to USD 3 billion.
Welcoming the move, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said his country will do its best to achieve this goal.