2011 Award Winners

Internationalization Awards of the President of the Republic go to Beneq, Normet, and Finnish gaming cluster

Press release February 9, 2012                           
Free for publication February 9, 2012 at 3 pm

President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen has presented the 2011 Internationalization Awards to Beneq, which manufactures thin film coating equipment, Normet, which specializes in underground mining processes, and the Finnish gaming cluster, which promotes the creation of a new growth industry.

The aim of the internationalization award is to promote companies' activities in an international environment and their ability to develop and implement new operating models. It is also intended to encourage the winning companies' internationalization and that of other Finnish companies. The 2011 internationalization awards were presented today in Helsinki.

"One of the purposes of the Internationalization Award of the President of the Republic is to highlight concepts and business models as examples to other internationalizing Finnish companies and to encourage internationalization. Export is very important to Finnish well-being – after all, we are the most export-driven country in Europe. Recent export development has been weaker than in competitor countries, and Finland's trade balance is showing a deficit for the first time in 20 years. Now it is essential to encourage growth entrepreneurship and internationalization, and to give companies the preconditions needed to grow and be successful globally. All of the recipients represent a high level of specialized Finnish competence and have shown strong internationalization," says Finpro's President and CEO Kari Häyrinen.

Each year, Finpro performs the search and preliminary assessment of internationalization prize nominees, on the basis of which Finpro's Board of Directors, in cooperation with the Association for Finnish Work, prepares a proposal concerning the award recipients to the President. The President selects the Internationalization Award winners on the basis of these proposals. The award is now being granted for the 44th time. The prizes are donated by the Finnish Fair Foundation.


Normet creates growth underground

Located in Iisalmi, Normet specializes in the equipment and processes needed for underground mining and tunnel construction. The company focuses on some of the most demanding phases of the underground construction, such as automated concrete spraying for reinforcing rock. In accordance with its renewed strategy, in five years Normet has gone from being a traditional equipment manufacturer to a rapidly growing global service company.

"The change from equipment manufacturer to service company began five years ago with the understanding that we can only grow and develop by moving closer to the customer in the value chain and by offering more extensive services and solutions for the processes in which our equipment is used. Along with our equipment, the total solution may include for example concrete chemical products, training and process optimization. The prerequisite for this change was establishing our own global distribution and service network which today consists of 28 locations in 6 continents," explains Aaro Cantell, Chairman and CEO of Normet Group.

The international prospects for mining activities and tunnel construction are promising. In addition to Normet's strong development, the company's approximately 30% annual growth is supported by the aggressive trend towards taking mining activities below ground and an increase in underground construction in crowded metropolitan areas.

More than 95% of Normet's sales come from outside Finland. The company has a global network of 28 own locations and production in 3 countries. About half of the company's 700 employees work outside Finland.

Beneq takes nano-innovations into new application areas

Prize-winning growth company Beneq designs and manufactures thin film coating equipment based on nanotechnology to meet the needs of, among others, the renewable energy industry. Established in 2005, the company's starting point was to commercialize advanced coating technologies for new application areas. Coating equipment manufactured by Beneq is used when producing solar photovoltaic cells, for coating flat glass and flexible electronics, to name a few application areas.

"From the very beginning, we have approached companies that are leaders in their industries and which have products that we know we can improve. Our goal is to live according to our vision in the future as well, in other words, to be the company that others compare themselves to. We always want to be one step ahead of the others and to boldly approach the world's largest customers with what we have to offer. A small company has to offer something exceptional in order to interest large companies," says Sampo Ahonen, CEO of Beneq Oy.

Boosted by the rapid growth of the cleantech industry, the turnover of Beneq has nearly doubled in each year of operations. Major investments in R&D have led to numerous applications for the industry, and the company's patent portfolio is bulging with more than 100 patent families. More than 95% of the company's EUR 18 million turnover comes from outside Finland. Beneq employs a total of 85 people.

Finnish gaming cluster is on the threshold of hyper-growth

Habbo Hotel, Max Payne, and Angry Birds are examples of the international success stories created by Finnish gaming companies. The community award received by Finnish gaming cluster was presented to three organizations that are active in the field: Finnish Game Developers' Association ry., which represents gaming companies, IGDA, which brings together game developers in Finland, and Neogames, which represents business, training and research in the games industry.

"The task of organizations is to serve as a spokesperson for the industry and promote company activities by creating structures for matters like training and financing. Game companies are always aware that they have to be international. They participate in tough international competition right from the start, so the operating field for organizations is also international," explains KooPee Hiltunen, Director of Neogames Centre of Game Business, Research and Development.

In economic terms, the rapidly growing game industry is Finland's most important cultural export, and it produces top international products and success stories. More than 90% of the market for Finnish game companies is in the United States and Western Europe. Companies that develop games and provide game services are at the heart of the industry. The game industry employs approximately 1,300 people in Finland. The combined turnover of the 70 companies operating in the industry was more than EUR 165 million in 2011, and the industry is the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries.

For further information

Award-winning companies

  • Normet Group Oy, Aaro Cantell, Chairman of the Board, aaro.cantell(a)normet.fi, tel. +358 400 706 072
  • Beneq Oy, Sampo Ahonen, CEO, sampo.ahonen(a)beneq.com, tel. +358 40 520 1090
  • Finnish gaming cluster, KooPee Hiltunen, Director of Neogames Center for Game Business, Research and Development, koopee(a)neogames.fi, tel. +358 40 532 4176


  • Kari Häyrinen, President and CEO, kari.hayrinen(a)finpro.fi, tel. +358 40 343 3464
  • Outi Torniainen, Senior Vice President, Communications and Marketing, outi.torniainen(a)finpro.fi, tel. +358 40 512 1375

Finpro is a global organization building the growth and success of Finnish companies in international markets. Both locally and globally, Finpro's networking benefits our clients and our partners. We have more than 370 professionals in 66 offices in almost 50 countries.
Finpro opens up future business opportunities in international markets. The expertise and services we provide boost our clients' success in the different phases of internationalization, enabling them to be in the right markets at the right time with a competitive concept and offering. In addition to internationalization services, Finpro manages important international initiatives such as Cleantech Finland, a network of top Finnish cleantech companies, Future Learning Finland, a national education export cluster and FinNode, a network of Finnish innovation organizations.
For more information please visit exportfinland.fi