Tampere and Tampere Region have a long tradition of Russian cooperation. Even the early stages of industrialisation in Tampere were closely linked to Russia and trade with Russia. We know our history and how the industry in the region has lived and changed with the trade with Russia. We have sometimes endured hard blows, which have had a temporarily paralysing effect on the business life of the region. But we have always survived them.

Russia has been and always will be our neighbour- with its booms and recessions. In recent years, the weak economic situation in Russia and the EU sanctions have been a popular topic in public debate. However, the sanctions only apply to part of the products. The food industry in Tampere Region and Finland were worst hit by the situation. In other sectors, it’s been business as usual. There are about 300 companies in the Tampere Region trading with Russia. The exports from Tampere Region to Russia include machinery, equipment and products of the chemical, plastic and paper industries, services or architect and engineering firms, washing and cleaning agents, real estate management services, spare parts for helicopters, airplanes and forestry machines, boilers, healthcare equipment and products, crushing, drilling and foundry products, as well as products and services for smart traffic. The list goes on and on. In turn, the imports from Russia include forwarding and transport services, business management and tourism-related services, lighting products, electricity, spare parts and valves. Russia continues to be an important trade partner for Tampere.

The current situation has also made companies think of new approaches for Russian trade. To say that change is a possibility is not merely a cliché. Economic crises drive us to look for new and creative solutions. Business life can also show good examples of this. It is not just the situation in Russia, but also the accelerating global phenomena that challenge our ability to reform.

Even though trade with Russia is still going on in the Tampere Region and hopefully even more so in the future, one may still ask, how well do we actually know the Russians, our neighbours? Recently, our researchers specialising in Russian studies have shown that our own notion of Finns as some kind of Russian experts is likely to be but a myth. Our strong expertise in Russia has by and large disappeared, or is very thin to say the least. We must strengthen our expertise in this sector.  The Russian-Finnish forum Partneriat, organised on 26–28 September 2016 in conjunction with the Subcontracting Trade Fair, will provide an excellent opportunity to improve the knowledge on Russia and to meet Russian companies. We expect that more than a hundred Russian participants will attend the event.

The themes of Partneriat also touch on a topical subject, digitalisation and the industrial internet. Digitalisation is radically changing the world, our ways to act and work, as well the companies’ methods and processes. Digitalisation is progressing, both in Finland and in Russia. Partneriat will provide an opportunity to hear the views of Finnish and Russian experts on the subject. I myself strongly believe that digitalisation will also open plenty of new opportunities and growth possibilities in Russia for actors in Tampere and Finland. I hope to also see plenty of Finnish participants meeting their neighbours in Partneriat!

Anna-Kaisa Ikonen
City of Tampere


Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, the Mayor of the City of Tampere, will participate in the Partneriat forum organised in Tampere in 26–28 September 2016 during the Subcontracting Trade Fair. The purpose of the forum is to increase the cooperation between Finnish and Russian SMEs. The Subcontracting Trade Fair is well known in Russia, and the organisers wanted to have the Partneriat forum specifically in conjunction with this trade fair. Partneriat consists of a seminar and matchmaking meetings. The participating Russian companies represent a large variety of different business sectors. The participants include companies from the following sectors: oil and gas handling, manufacturing industry, metal industry, technical marketing and research, energy efficiency, the construction sector, software development for biomedicine, digital marketing and video production, business development, training, legal services, transport and logistics, as well as trade fairs. Further information: www.partneriat.com/en.