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On Friday, January 20, the international science and technology community was invited to take part to the introductory reception of the Millennium Technology Prize, the first event of Finland’s centenary celebrations in Singapore at the Finnish Ambassador’s, HE Paula Parviainen’s, residence.


The guest of honor, Dr Juha Ylä-Jääski President and CEO of the Technology Academy of Finland (TAF), described what the Millennium Technology Prize is and communicated that the nominations for the next Millennium Technology Prize will start in April 2017 and the prize will be given in May 2018.

Photo by Marica Salokangas


Please view the opening speech of the festivities by the Ambassador of Finland, HE Paula Parviainen here.


Please view the speech of Dr Juha Ylä-Jääski here.


Photo by Marica Salokangas


We interviewed Dr Juha Ylä-Jääski to find out more about the Technology Academy of Finland and the Millennium Technology Prize. We also wanted to learn how the Finnish and Singaporean tech sectors differ from one another. Lastly, Dr Juha Ylä-Jääski explained what the biggest changes will be in the future in our respective countries in the tech sector. Please find the interview below:



What is the mission of TAF?


The Technology Academy Finland, (TAF), is an independent foundation promoting innovations that improve the quality of people’s lives in a sustainable manner. TAF awards the biennial Millennium Technology Prize and runs associated national events. TAF also promotes Finland as a high-tech Nordic welfare state by actively participating in global networks within the scientific community, business and governmental organizations. It incorporates the Finnish Academy of Technology, the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in Finland and the Industry Council, which represents leading Finnish companies and that is also our foundation’s strengths, as this tripartite cooperation between industry, governmental organizations and the scientific community offers extensive networking possibilities among these sectors.


Simply put, TAF’s agenda is to voice public debate on the significance of technology and promote innovations for a better life; to promote Finland as a high-tech country and to encourage young people to undertake a career in technology.


What are the achievements expected in order to aspire at the Millennium Technology Prize (MTP)?


The Millennium Technology Prize is Finland's tribute to innovations for a better life and the prize promotes technological research and Finland as a high-tech country, so the rationale behind the prize is the extensive impact of science and innovation on society, or even on humanity at large.


The Millennium Technology Prize is awarded to groundbreaking technological innovations that enhance the quality of people’s lives in a sustainable manner. These innovations have been applied in practice and are delivering extensive change now and in the future. Finally, the innovations stimulate further cutting edge research and development in science and technology. The Millennium Technology Prize is hence not intended as a reward for lifetime achievement. It tries to bring the benefits of the Finnish practical and solution-focused mindset – one of the greatest strengths of Finland – to the whole world.


We live in a global era and so we look for candidates from across the world, from all fields of technology, with the exception of the military technology. We believe people’s lives are affected by common problems and solutions and it is therefore essential that a Finnish prize can be awarded to anywhere in the world. Nominations for the prize can be made by academies, universities, research institutes and companies.


The MTP is awarded by the Technology Academy Finland (TAF). The prize is worth 1 million euros, and it is granted by the Ministry Of Employment and the Economy.


The prize is awarded every second year, and the next time will be on 22 May 2018. Call for nominations for the 2018 prize will open on 3 April 2017. 



What differences are there in the tech sector in Finland and Singapore?


As a matter of fact, Singapore and Finland are characterized by many similarities rather than differences. Both our countries recognize the significance of technology, possess companies that are active in high-tech markets, have a small home market and highly depend on exports, have a relatively high cost level which means that many operations are carried out at low-cost countries, possess a high quality education system and invest significantly in research. I actually have some difficulties in listing significant differences, but Finland is still facing some challenges, as the country still suffers from the economic downturn of 2008. Our main markets are inside EU, which is growing very slowly, with a low investment level and as Finland’s exports mainly consist of investment goods, R&D investments in Finland are reducing. Political decision makers – contrary to the majority of industry leaders – seem to think that increasing R&D investments are not the way to Finland’s success.



 What are the biggest changes in your opinion that will take place in the tech sector in our respective countries? 


Let me only list one change which is already taking place but will continue to have an effect on our lives: Digitalization will come everywhere.


It is hard to make a comprehensive list of the effects. We need to master both the technology and efficient ways to use it to our advantage. In my opinion, it will often be the latter that determines the success. The ways of working must change rather than making digital technology adapt to old ways of working.


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