Policy Background

The two key documents setting out research and innovation policy in Finland are the Reformative Finland: Research and innovation policy review 2015–2020 published by the Research and Innovation Council and the latest Government Programme for the four-year parliamentary term published in 2019 (Government Communications Strategy). The main thematic areas in this are:

  • Carbon neutral Finland that protects biodiversity; 
  • Global influential Finland and policy on Europe;
  • Safe and secure Finland built on the rule of law;
  • Dynamic and thriving Finland, transport networks and agriculture;
  • Finland built on trust and labour market equality;
  • Fair, equal and inclusive Finland;
  • Finland that promotes competence, education, culture and innovation;
  • Governance. 

 Key Transport Policy strategies and initiatives in Finland 

  • Finland has been following a ‘Strategy for Intelligent Transport’ since 2009, and this strategy sets down the transport policy guidelines and objectives up to 2020. 
  • In March 2009, the administrative sector’s climate policy programme was prepared, which sets out how Finland can decrease greenhouse gas emissions from transport up to 2020.
  • The latest Government Programme emphasises that transport policy should be linked comprehensively to the framework of economic, financial, employment and regional development, and underlines the importance of intelligent transport. Effective transport policy can only be made in cooperation between different ministries, and looking at one sector is not enough; measures are needed to improve overall social effectiveness. Particular focus is to be placed on steps to deepen cooperation between the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Employment and the Economy and Ministry of the Environment. 
  • Vitality all of the shipping sector is of primary importance for Finnish competitiveness. In an effort to safeguard a good operating environment for shipping, a broad-based national strategy will be drafted for the sector. As far as transport is concerned, the strategy will focus on adaptation to the tightening environmental regulations, issues around support policy, reform of fairway dues, procurement of icebreaker fleet together with port and shipyard questions.
  • A separate strategy is also to be prepared for air transport with the purpose of examining its future prospects and assessing the appropriateness of Finland's airport network together with the role of the State in arranging air transport services. 

Institutional framework of transport research

Finland has a centralised system for research policy planning and decision-making, which consists of several operational levels as follows.

  1. The Parliament and the national government are responsible for decision making at the highest level and are supported in matters related to research, technology and innovation policy by the high level advisory body the Research and Innovation Council.
  2. The ministries represent the second level. The key ministries with respect to research policy are the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The Ministry of Education and Culture is also responsible for budget preparations for the sector.
  3. The third level consists of R&D funding agencies, the Academy of Finland and Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation). The Academy of Finland funds fundamental research through competitive grants. Most of the Tekes funds are allocated to R&D projects carried out by companies, but also to university research. In addition, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development is an independent public fund operating under the supervision of the Finnish Parliament. It supports research and development in areas considered important to the welfare of Finnish society. Finally, the private sector in Finland is very active in funding research.

Transport policy is developed and implemented by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and its agencies. The Ministry’s responsibilities include transport systems and networks, transport of people and goods, traffic safety, and issues relating to climate and the environment. The Agencies related to transport are the Finnish Transport Agency and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency.

Funding Sources and Support Initiatives

Current transport funding sources and initiatives include:

  • Traffic Safety 2025 Programme - supports increasing road safety competence and understanding in Finland, as well as decision making for meeting the national road safety goals. 

  • Smart Mobility Finland (2018-2022) Programme - supports Finnish companies to benefit from the changing transport sector and focuses on seamless transport chains, emissions reduction and big data.