04/08/2020

Finland’s strength is the battery ecosystem

The ecosystem enables networking and development of the battery industry in co-operation with other actors, writes Jarkko Vesa in our blog.

Jarkko Vesa
Senior Specialist, Innovations and Enterprise Financing, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

Close relations between key actors from the business, research and public sectors has been a critical success factor in developing the rapidly emerging Finnish battery industry. The national battery ecosystem created is also attracting interest outside of Finland.

What is an ecosystem?

While doing research for my doctoral dissertation on the evolution of the mobile services industry in Finland and Japan, I soon realised that the success of new services in Japan was based on cultural rather than technological factors. In Japan, large and small companies develop their services cooperatively with a customer-driven approach. Business networks referred to as ‘ecosystems’ had emerged around three Japanese mobile phone operators. The ecosystems were formed by a wide range of actors from the automotive, entertainment and retail industries.

James Moore originated the concept of the business ecosystem in 1993.  He defined ‘business ecosystem’ as ‘an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organisations and individuals’. For a business ecosystem to be successful, the members must co-evolve their capabilities, ultimately constituting a system of mutual support and contributing to the overall success of the ecosystem. Moore emphasised that it is competition among business ecosystems, not individual companies, that largely fuels the industrial transformation.

The Finnish battery ecosystem has evolved rapidly

About five years ago, I entered the world of batteries to develop a system for recycling the traction batteries of electric and hybrid vehicles. At the time, Finland had very little vision or experience in lithium-ion batteries. Networking mainly took place at international battery industry conferences.

Eventually, interest was piqued and knowledge began to accumulate in Finland as well. The following projects and networks have stuck in my mind as having contributed to building the battery ecosystem:

  • For years, events related to the Batteries from Finland activation campaign launched by Business Finland have been a great opportunity to network with battery industry actors.

  • The preparation stage of BATCircle, the Finland-based circular ecosystem of battery metals consortium led by Aalto University, was a great experience. It brought together all the key actors of the Finnish battery value chain.

  • Seminars organised by EIT RawMaterials, and the Raw & Circular Economy Expedition (RACE) in particular, was an opportunity to get to know the industry’s leading companies and researchers from other countries.

  • Over the years, a working group focusing on the safety and transportation of lithium-ion batteries convened by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi has provided a front-row seat to developments in the transport of dangerous goods regulations concerning batteries.

  • Learning about the recycling solutions for li-ion batteries from the manufacturers of car brands imported to Finland provided a good overview of various manufacturers’ processes and operating models related to electric vehicle and traction batteries.
     

Batteries are enablers of low-carbon society

Finland is well positioned to take its share of the sharp growth of the battery industry in the coming years. This prediction is based on Finland's strong expertise in manufacturing battery-grade minerals and chemicals.

The work to formulate a national battery strategy for Finland was launched in June under the leadership of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The objective is to enable Finland to strengthen its role as a pioneer in sustainable battery manufacturing and recycling. The battery strategy also has a strong link to the Finnish road map to a circular economy. Batteries are needed more than ever in history; current climate targets cannot be achieved without them.

Jarkko Vesa

Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment