Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Finnish PM visits for trade talks

Taoiseach Brian Cowen greets Finnish Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi at Government Buildings in Dublin

Ireland can use Finland as a role model to recover from recession and the banking crisis, Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said.

Mr Cowen, who met Finnish Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi for talks on trade, economy and the EU, said he had paid close attention to the Scandinavian state's economic revival in the 1990s.

"I have taken great interest in the approach taken by Finland when faced with economic difficulties in the 1990s, and how they took the opportunity to restructure and re-focus its economy," Mr Cowen said.

"They identified science, technology and innovation as key drivers of economic growth, and made a strategic commitment some years ago to invest in research and development - a decision which has undoubtedly paid dividends."

The Taoiseach was addressing the Ireland - Finland Seminar on Overcoming Recession through Innovation. Finland suffered a deep recession in the early 1990s with massive unemployment up to 20%, a banking crisis and collapse in economic growth as a result of the end of trade with the old Soviet Union.

He earlier held talks with Mrs Kiviniemi in Government Buildings and announced a 30 million euro investment in two new venture capital firms in Dublin.

The money - from the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) - is being used to support the Innovation Fund Ireland, a Government initiative launched in Wall Street last July to attract leading international venture capital fund managers to Ireland.

Leading pan-European venture capital firm, DFJ Esprit Fund III, secured 20 million euro. It has backed companies such as Lovefilm, Buy.at and Imagine in Ireland.

Elsewhere, DFJ Fund X got 10 million euro. It is said to be a leading global investor in emerging technologies and has backed companies such as Skype and Tesla Motors.

Simon Cook, of DFJ Esprit, said the firm has had good success in the Irish market to date. "Looking forward, we clearly see the huge potential of the country's technology companies," said Mr Cook.