Date
20 September 2017
Nokia’s phone business crumbled after iPhone became the new love of handset users, sending Finland’s economy into a tailspin. Photo: Internet
Nokia’s phone business crumbled after iPhone became the new love of handset users, sending Finland’s economy into a tailspin. Photo: Internet

What can Hong Kong learn from post-Nokia Finland?

Between 1998 and 2007, a quarter of Finland’s economic growth came from Nokia.

During the period, the company’s research and development spending accounted for one-third of the national total.

Nokia also contributed about 20 percent of the country’s exports and 23 percent of tax revenue.

Working for Nokia was a dream come true for most Finns.

But the good times ended abruptly after Apple launched the iPhone in 2007.

Failing to sense the threat from smartphones, Nokia fell apart quickly and its core business was finally sold to Microsoft.

Nokia’s downfall dealt Finland a big blow.

So how did the small northern European country with only 5.4 million people overcome the huge setback?

The answer lies in its excellent education system and the government’s pro-innovation policies, Erwin Huang, president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation concluded after paying a visit to Finland at the beginning of the year.

Finland’s education system continues to supply Finnish industries with ample talent.

At the same time, the government plays a key role in pulling the efforts of research institutions, colleges and the corporate sector together, Huang wrote in a Hong Kong Economic Journal column.

“The drive for innovation in Finland is a national campaign,” he said. “Which is why Finland remains very competitive despite Nokia’s fall.”

Hong Kong’s overreliance on China is like that of Finland on Nokia in the past.

Huang said this is risky because when China’s economy falters or if there is an unfavorable change in mainland policies, Hong Kong will be in trouble.

“Years of heavy investment in education have helped Finland bounce back,” Huang said.

“Finland has equipped its youth with superb problem-solving ability. That is how the country responded quickly to adverse economic changes,” he said.

“Can Hong Kong do the same?”

Secretary for Education Ng Hak-kim had better come up with an answer.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA

EJ Insight writer

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