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Survey: Corporate decision-makers do not see China as a competitor — however, they believe in increasing Chinese investments


July 3, 2019

Even though China is one of the countries who applies the most patents, the majority of the 200 Finnish corporate decision-makers who took patent and copyright specialist organisation Kolster’s survey did not consider the competition from China as a problem. However, they are worried about Finnish companies being sold to foreign owners too early.

A total of 200 CEOs and Executive Team members of Finnish companies participated in the survey, implemented by Taloustutkimus and commissioned by Kolster. 61 per cent of them say that competition from China has not impacted their company. However, 78 percent of the respondents believe that investments from China to Finland will grow in the following three years, and a half thinks that the Chinese influence on Finnish companies’ innovation operations will grow.

“According to our survey, only a third of corporate decision-makers see Chinese companies as a threat to the Finnish economy. It is alarmingly few, as the competition will enter the European competitive field quickly through products. All companies should actively consider the quickly changing and renewing China in their short- and long-term planning, regardless of whether they are about to enter the Chinese market themselves or not,” says Timo Helosuo, Kolster’s CEO.

However, there are signs that indicate the situation is changing. Kolster founded its own Chinese office last year.

“There has been a lack of wide-ranging Chinese knowledge in Finnish companies’ management teams and boards, but more and more companies are starting to understand China’s influence and, on the other hand, recognise the potential of the Chinese market. Part of this is also likely due to the trade war between the US and China, which turns Chinese companies even more towards Europe and also Finland.”

Even though corporate decision-makers do not see China as a large threat, they are worried that Finnish companies are sold to foreign owners too early instead of being developed at home. 60 per cent of the respondents agree with this. Only 5 percent consider that the European Union has succeeded in creating their company operational preconditions in China.

“China has already taken the role of a patent engine in the world economy, and it is a true threat that Finland will become a subcontractor like India. We are an innovative country, but going forward, will others only buy product development from us, while the true value of the company, i.e. intellectual property rights in the form of patents and copyrights, are transferred to foreign owners? Patenting and protecting, heavily subsidised by the government, assist Chinese companies in entering the European markets even faster. In some new product groups, they already have a headlock position while the rest of the world become simple followers. Drones are a good example of this,” Timo Helosuo says.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 200 corporate decision-makers in April–May as commissioned by IP company Kolster. 13 percent of the interviewees manage a company that is one of the 100 largest companies in Finland. The interviewees included both CEOs and Executive Team members.

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Timo Helosuo
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