Finland and Michigan lead the way in the transition towards a cleaner economy
Finland and the state of Michigan in the United States have launched a partnership to develop solutions for clean technology, including smart mobility, battery technology, and sustainable bioeconomy.
Finland and Michigan are committed to promoting a carbon-neutral economy and ambitious climate action. Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä and the Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 4 March during a visit by a Team Finland delegation to Detroit, Lansing and the surrounding area. Michigan, with its strong Finnish cultural heritage, is the heartland of the US automotive industry and accounts for 75% of the country's automotive research and development.
Finland is looking for partnerships also at the state level in the United States to promote climate action and the advancement of green economy. A Team Finland delegation led by Minister Lintilä, visited the state of Michigan March 4-6. The purpose of the trip was to explore opportunities for collaboration, particularly in clean technology research, development and innovation, intelligent transportation, battery technology, and sustainable bioeconomy. The delegation consisted of eight Finnish companies and research organizations active in these fields.
At their meeting on the 4th of March, Minister Lintilä and Governor Whitmer signed a MoU on clean technology development, particularly in the areas of intelligent transport, including the car industry and maritime, battery technology and bioeconomy. In Finland the co-operation with Michigan is coordinated by Team Finland actors Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Business Finland.
Michigan has the largest population of Finnish-Americans and people with Finnish heritage in the US and the state is very welcoming to Finnish actors. Finland and Michigan share many priorities, especially on the green and clean economy. The focus of the MoU is initially on the R&D side, but the goal is to build valuable long-term partnerships in support of market access and bilateral investment opportunities.
At the meeting between the Minister and the Governor, it was recognized that climate change is one of the most urgent issues of common concern and that it is of the utmost importance to develop the economy towards climate neutrality. Michigan is interested in cooperating with Finnish actors across the battery value chain, in particular potential investments between Finland and Michigan that support the development of scalable solutions.
Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, one of the largest fresh water areas in the world, and they are actively looking for solutions in the intelligent shipping sector. Business Finland is already cooperating with the Michigan-based Smart Ship Coalition. The coalition runs a Marine Autonomy Research Site. There is on-going cooperation between Michigan and Finland in marine autonomy sector. There is potential for Finnish businesses and research in developing autonomous maritime systems, digitalization, situational awareness and connectivity.
The visit clearly showed that the opportunities for co-operation are wide-ranging also between the universities and research organizations. The delegation created connections among others with the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University (MTU) covering all MOU's sectors.
The delegation also met with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, and both have shared interests in bioeconomy focused research collaboration. Potential topics have significant local importance, for example on the utilization of industrial side-streams and forest biomass harvesting residues to generate products of higher value whilst mitigating forest fire risk.
American car giants interested in Finland's approach in battery value chains from mines to recycling
The delegation met with large American car manufacturers, headquartered in Michigan, General Motors (GM) and Ford. GM, whose CEO Mary Barra has ties to Finland, has a strong interest in the development of electric vehicles and the battery production chain. The Team Finland delegation presented to GM Finland's capabilities along the entire battery value chain, from mineral resources and mining projects to battery recycling.
At the Ford World Headquarters the Finnish delegation discussed intelligent vehicles, battery technology development, and battery recycling. Minister Lintilä also visited battery manufacturer Piston Group's factory.
The Battery Laboratory at the University of Michigan started cooperation with Finland already last year after Business Finland signed a letter of intent with the University to promote innovation in battery technology. As cooperation develops, Finnish research organizations and companies and the University of Michigan can work together to promote battery technology and exchange ideas for developing the battery ecosystem in Finland and the United States.
Based on the MoU, Finland and Michigan will continue to build a stronger partnership with a clear focus on showing climate leadership and keeping our economies competitive in the transition towards a cleaner economy. In practice, work will be carried out through a working group, which will initially include the actors involved in the delegation but will be opened to other interested parties in the future.
Ms. Heli Hyypiä
Counselor (Trade and Economic Affairs)
Embassy of Finland in Washington D.C.
heli.hyypia (at) formin.fi
Mr. Ilkka Homanen
Head of Batteries from Finland Program
ilkka.homanen (at) businessfinland.fi
Mr. Markku Kivistö
Head of Industry, Invest in Finland, Cleantech
markku.kivisto (at) businessfinland.fi
Ms. Megan Williams
megan.williams (at) businessfinland.fi