According to Managing Director Mikko Vasama, Philips is nowadays “100% health technology”. Everything they now do can be linked back to health. This may come as a bit of a surprise, so we sat down to talk with him some more.
Healthcare is to be taken as a continuum, from brushing one’s teeth and preventing illness in the first place, to diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, preferably at home. Healthcare has moved on from the traditional hospital bed, to a general and holistic concept of well-being. Eating healthily counts as “healthcare”. Philips is determined to be active in shaping solutions to all areas of the spectrum, Vasama says.
Philips’s know-how, experience and expertise in healthcare is a formidable power. There is probably not a hospital in the world being built in which they are not involved in one way or another.
Businesses’ wells of knowledge can be extremely beneficial for helping Finland plan for changes in healthcare—both in terms of business and for the government. How, then, does the company feel about the Health and Social Care Reform (SOTE) that is taking place in Finland at the moment?
“SOTE isn’t a done deal yet,” Mr. Vasama says. “But the reform would open healthcare up to competition, which means more choice for customers. As a result, healthcare must become more customer-centric. The reform isn’t just about euros. It’s about effectiveness and quality for customers in healthcare. And we see this as a positive trend.”
At the same time as the SOTE reform, Finland is actively positioning itself as the leading hub for life sciences in the world—the Silicon Valley of all things involving health and well-being. There are already 150 companies and more than 15 pharma or life science-related universities and institutions here: a thriving ecosystem.
Amcham Finland’s Life Science Group’s vision is that Finland will be the leading innovation hub in life sciences in Europe by 2020. The Finnish government’s goals coincide with this: by 2025, there should be a volume of 6 billion euros in health startups in Finland.
Vasama has lived in New York City and London, among other places, and his excellent English has a touch of the cockney accent, making him a natural fit in the expatriate leaders’ community. With an international mind and experience from various markets, what does he think about Finland’s determined move into the life science sector?
“There is certainly a readiness to try out new ideas and, since it’s such a small country, if something works we can quickly scale it up. In this sense, Finland is an excellent testbed or laboratory for innovative ideas.”
Teaming up with others is the best way to do it.
Philips has a long tradition of partnering with companies to bring about innovation through their platforms and global reach. Working together is a two-way street. You need to offer your own strengths and team up with other companies, big and small. That way more competitive offerings can enter the market, and good ideas from Finland can be proliferated globally. High involvement in co-creation is a must. More to the point, it’s a daily part of work, as Vasama elaborates:
“Just the other week I was in Eindhoven at our Design Center, which is an old, urban manufacturing plant that’s now used to share ideas. I spent the day with a partner working on their product, taking up many of the issues and challenges together, so that the solution is not created in isolation. This creates more value for both of us. And SOTE could be a good example of the same phenomenon. Often teaming up with others is the best way to succeed.”
The way health and social care is organized is going through a big change in Finland. In the bigger picture, a process of reinventing what health means is taking place. And this means that many more companies are defined as ‘healthcare providers’. It is an exciting and growing sector.