There are about 300 Finns living among 7.3 million Hongkongers. To make themselves visible they teamed up to present their culture and business know-how on May 10, together with such iconic characters as Santa Claus, Moomintroll and Angry Birds. Finland 100 Expo gathered more than 400 Hongkongers to touch, feel and learn the Finnish offering that spans from fish lures to elevators, from education technology to sustainable chocolate, from direct flights to indoor air quality.
In his opening remarks Consul-General Jari Sinkari stressed the wide range of expertise his compatriots possess. More than any particular field of business, the common characteristics is the quality: quality of companies and their offering; and quality of active people. He stressed how good a platform Hong Kong is to make the Finnish business flourish. Hong Kong demands the best of everything which makes it an extremely good test bed and accelerator.
Mr. Charles Ng, Associate Director-General of Invest Hong Kong greeted the event on behalf of the local administration. He listed several reasons why Hong Kong will be even better springboard in the future. Several infra projects and other plans connect Hong Kong to the mainland and to other growing Asian economies offering avenues for the innovativeness of the Finnish companies to prosper. A lot of work and resources are dedicated to boost innovation.
Panel discussions and featured programs were set throughout the day for visitors to engage with the four thematic areas that highlighted the most important exports of Finland. First panel had four experts discussing drivers behind the innovation environment in Finland. How a country with a population only five and half million can produce so many innovations? Education, sufficient amount of free time and a culture favouring constant pondering how to make things better were seen part of the recipe.
Second panel examined the differences between education system of Finland and Hong Kong.
Third panel gave visitors a chance to learn how to make the world's best Gin & Tonic with award winning Napue gin. The last panel discussed the sustainability of food production from the Nordic perspective. Interesting finding was that many Finnish products are growing wild and having very high nutritional value, but this “wild category” should be better incorporated in the food labeling systems.
Naturally the purpose of the exhibition was to strengthen the collaboration between Finland and Hong Kong. Many locals were extremely interested of products Finland had to offer. Some products like HKScan cold cuts and Hartwall's Original Long Drinks will shortly be on shelves in Hong Kong stores. The Original Long Drink loved by Finns started off last year with several hundred 7-Eleven shops around Hong Kong. Due to the high demand cans were sold out in record time.
“We were not expecting such a huge success. Many shops were struggling to meet the high demand. The sales figures of long drink were ten times higher than those of a famous international beer brand that was launched using the same retail channel,” said Matti Ristola, Director of Export at Hartwall.
The Finland 100 Expo was organized by the Finnish Chamber of Commerce FinnCham in collaboration with the Consulate General as well as Invest Hong Kong to celebrate the centenary of Finnish independence. The exhibition offered visitors a chance to get to know Finnish businesses and culture alongside with Santa Claus, Moomintroll and Angry Birds. Happening gathered together 34 exhibitors and almost 400 visitors. The Expo was the biggest “open for all” Finnish event of the year in Hong Kong and it was held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.