HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Two Finnish business delegations will visit the U.P. this May to evaluate expansion and collaboration opportunities.

The first delegation will be hosted by MTEC SmartZone and FinnZone, and include five companies from central and northern Finland, sponsored by JAMK University of Applied Sciences and the European Commission. The companies represent sectors including mobility, energy, and advanced wood products.

“The companies that are coming from Finland, it offers opportunities for U.P. businesses in a variety of ways,” said Patrick Visser, CCO of MTEC Smartzone. “First, some of the companies are seeking manufacturing partners, which would contribute to more jobs here in the U.P. New product offerings for these companies located in the U.P. Other Finnish companies are looking for distributors or retail partners, even R&D work through Michigan Tech University. So there’s lots of opportunities across the board for U.P. companies to add products and add jobs to the area.”

Finnish partners Marko Luoma of XPort and Markku Paananen of JAMK are leading the group from Finland. FinnZone says the companies plan to evaluate the opportunity to establish a presence in the Houghton-Hancock region in the U.P. and plan to explore partnerships with local companies during the week of May 16.

“One of, I think, the advantages of our area here is it’s very easy for a Finnish company to come and set up, even North American operations,” said Kevin Manninen, Co-Director of FinnZone. “We have all the infrastructure, we have all the business support necessary, and they can do so in an easier and more cost-effective way than if they wanted to establish in other parts of the country.

The second delegation visit will include Finland’s U.S. Ambassador Mikko Hautala and Business Finland to Houghton-Hancock on May 17, followed by a visit to Southeast Michigan on May 18 and 19. The second delegation will be hosted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and will explore areas of cooperation in research and commercialization around sectors that include the forest bioeconomy, maritime, mobility and clean tech.

The Finnish delegation builds upon a memo of understanding (MoU) signed in 2020 by Michigan Governor Whitmer and Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä to increase collaboration and innovation between Michigan and Finland.

The U.P. agenda will include tours and meetings with Michigan Technological University, Finlandia University, FinnZone, and the Honorary Consul of Finland Upper Michigan.

“FinnZone commercialization services coupled with a welcoming and supportive community, local technology companies, outdoor activities and climate, our Finnish legacy, esteemed universities and talent are proving that the Keweenaw is an enticing entry point into the North American market for some companies located in Finland,” Visser said. “This will be four groups of Finnish companies and delegates to visit already this year, which we hope is the sign of a growing recognition in Finland of our unique value propositions.”