At FinPro, Finland’s national trade, internationalization and investment development organization, the main line of activity is partner searching. In the recent Finland Focus of Diplomacy & Trade, the head of FinPro in Hungary talked about the organization.
“Back in 1919, a shoemaker in Turku, Finland mentioned to his colleagues that they should try to produce their goods for export and the set up an interest representation organization with an office in the German port city of Hamburg,” the Head of Finpro Hungary, Attila Debreczeni explains to Diplomacy & Trade the origins.
This initiative was eventually espoused by various ministries. Currently, Finpro – which took up this name in 2000 – belongs to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Officially founded in 1919, Finpro, a public-private organization now has some 550 members, employs 375 professionals and has 69 offices in almost 50 countries.
Attila Debreczeni joined the organization in 2003 from the consultancy firm KPMG. “This was the period when Finpro went through a ‘refreshment’ process to turn it into a proactive body that helps – mainly engineer-driven – Finnish companies to develop and expand abroad. In numerous countries, we began to search for and reveal business opportunities that were evaluated with our Finnish colleagues in Helsinki,” he says.
Finpro Hungary’s main line of activity is still business opportunity and partner searches for Finnish companies in Hungary and other countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Requests for Serbia are answered through local official partners in Serbia. As for branches of industry, it is mainly in energy and environment, info-communication, life science (agriculture and lifestyle) as well as multidisciplinary services for which they receive inquiries.
Debreczeni stresses that the ‘mental bridge’ between Hungary and Finland works very well. “If you ask a Finn on the street, the first nation (s)he will mention as ‘brother’ is Hungary. If a Finnish firm is looking for business opportunities in East Central Europe, the first place they look is Hungary. In addition, Hungary’s geographical location is excellent to serve and develop businesses in the region.”
He says he remembers Finpro’s first successful deal, which was the sale of a red-currant harvester in Hungary. It was a much more important deal, though, when the Budapest office took an important part in creating the Nokia factory in Cluj, Romania in 2008-9.
Additional examples include the Halton air filter plant in Dunaharaszti, south of Budapest; the acquisition of the Tisza chipper factory by Ruukki Engineering in Jászberény, eastern Hungary, and Finpro assisted the same company find EU funds for a new painting plant.
“We have also carried out partner search projects for several Finnish technology firms. In fact, in the process of coming into Hungary are two big technological suppliers, Huurre and Elomatic. In addition, a big starch factory is to be established in the Visonta Industrial Park in NE Hungary.”