2015 Award Winners

The Internationalisation Award of the President of the Republic goes to Slush, Vahterus and Serres

The Internationalisation Award of the President of the Republic

Photo: Sakari Piippo, Prime Minister's Office

Press release

The President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, has awarded this year's internationalisation awards to startup event Slush, Serres, which specialises in surgical suctions systems, and Vahterus, which excels in industrial heat exchangers.

–    The internationalisation award of the President of the Republic is a recognition granted to internationally successful Finnish companies, communities and their personnel. The award winners' success is based on top expertise, the ability to seize opportunity in the changing markets and a willingness to take risks. Most importantly, what these winners have in common is their hunger for growth, says Jorma Korhonen, Head of Team Finland unit at Prime Minister's Office.

The internationalisation award of the President of the Republic is a recognition that is granted annually to Finnish companies that have gained international success, and to the communities behind them. The president grants the award based on a proposal from the Team Finland Board of Directors.

–    The welfare of Finland is increasingly based on SMEs' ability to achieve international growth and create new jobs. Our exports are still, to a large extent, dependent on 20 large companies, which is why we are investing heavily to support the international success of small and medium-sized enterprises. Most of the new jobs will be created in SMEs in the future, says Markus Suomi, President & CEO of Finpro.

Putting Finnish startups on the map

Slush has become one of the leading and best-known startup events in Europe in the past few years. Since 2008, an impressive number of startup companies, international investors and operators in the public sphere have gathered in Helsinki in November to attend Slush.

–    The Slush community creates the Slush phenomenon. This year, 1,500 volunteers from 50 countries participated in making the event happen. The community of organisers alone is one of the most international ones in Finland, not to mention the visitors, who this year came from exactly 100 countries. It is awesome to be part of this, to export Finnish phenomena and entrepreneurship abroad with this team, Riku Mäkelä, CEO of Slush says.

This year, Slush expanded to Asia. Mr. Mäkelä describes Slush Tokyo, which was held in the spring, as a success. Slush China in Beijing in October was also sold out.

Hospital technology company tackled the problem of the manufacturing industry

Serres started its operations in Kauhajoki, and it has now become the first runner-up for the global market leader in its own field of speciality. The company specialises in surgical suction systems that combine cost-efficiency with high patient safety and hygiene standards. In addition to this, Serres is one of the leading manufacturers of floor drain systems in the Nordic countries.

–    We have tackled the most difficult problem in the manufacturing industry; how to keep the quality of production high while keeping the costs moderate. Our success shows that we have found the solution, because we are able to produce disposable suction bags for healthcare professionals in Finland and sell them in the highly competitive Chinese market. We are able to meet the requirements of even the most demanding customers worldwide with the same product, says Mika Hagberg, CEO of Serres Oy.

According to Mr. Hagberg, listening to customers is one of Serres' priorities. The company has good connections with healthcare professionals, which means feedback and development ideas reach Finland well. Thanks to the international growth, the company's turnover has grown to EUR 28 million, which is almost six times higher than in 2000.

Innovative engineering company is full of new ideas

Vahterus is a family business from Kalanti, Uusikaupunki, specialising in the manufacture of heat exchangers for heavy industry applications. Vahterus' products are used in a wide range of cooling applications, in the processing and chemical industries, at power plants, and for the production of oil and gas. All of these markets are global growth markets.

–    Our operations are always driven by the local perspective and our roots. Our business is based on the welded plate and shell heat exchangers which we have developed and patented ourselves. They represent the highest technological standards in the industry, but staying in the lead requires constant hard work. All our 230 employees are committed to their jobs, and we owe our success to them. We are also one of the most active engineering companies in Finland in terms of new initiatives and continuous improvement or CI, says Mauri Kontu, CEO of Vahterus.

The family business was established in 1990, and it has grown at a rapid pace. The company has doubled its turnover in the last five years to EUR 38 million, while managing to keep its operations profitable. About 95% of the company's turnover comes from export sales.

More information:

Mika Hagberg
CEO, Serres
+358 (0) 40 745 7008

Mauri Kontu
CEO, Vahterus
+358 (0)44 742 7010

Riku Mäkelä
CEO, Slush
+358 (0)400 848 789

Outi Torniainen
SVP, Communications and Marketing, Finpro
+358 (0)40 512 1375

More photos on Flickr.

The Team Finland network brings together all state-funded actors and the services they offer to promote the internationalisation of Finnish companies, and to attract foreign investments to Finland. The network provides companies with information on market opportunities, advice on the different stages of internationalisation, funding, and support for creating networks and visibility.