Nordic Sailors and the New England Summer Season!

April-May 2024




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Happy May Day!

In the Nordic countries, May Day, or more familiarly, Vappu or Valborg, is celebrated for many reasons beyond politics. Vappu, celebrated on the 30th of April and the 1st of May in Finland, is a vibrant and cherished tradition deeply intertwined with the arrival of spring, the commemoration of International Workers' Day, and the spirit of Finnish students. Rooted in community, it brings together families and friends for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor festivities, fostering a sense of togetherness and joy. From the iconic tippaleipä to the sweet libations of sima, Vappu is a time to indulge in traditional foods and drinks while relishing in the warmer weather and longer days, marking a moment of renewal and celebration in Finnish culture.

Welcome back to this monthly newsletter—For those who are new here, my name is Henrik Totterman; I am the Finnish Honorary Consul for the City of Boston and the States of New England (MA, ME, NH, VT, RI).

The NEF—This newsletter is designed to build bridges between New England, Finland, and Scandinavia. It's the chart for our shared past, present, and future adventures. I created this newsletter based on popular demand among Finnish New Englanders, and I want to engage with you in trade, education, and cultural matters. This fourth edition marks a significant milestone. We are now a community of over 2100+ subscribers on Linkedin, with many more subscriptions to my email send-out and those following the blog. Share the link to this newsletter with anyone interested in building bridges between the Nordics and New England.

Below is a summary of collected insights, including Finnish President Stubb's call for Nordic export collaboration, an update on transatlantic relations, and green business impact. I also offer a brief update on Finland's news coverage in the US, a few reasons for Finns to celebrate, reflections on our recent climate session, a wrap-up with Vappu celebrations at Suomi-Koulu of New England, and info on New Hampshire. Enjoy The NEF!

Economic and Trade Relationships

A long-lasting tradition is that the newly minted President of Finland makes the first international state visit to our allies and friends in the West, namely Sweden. The Swedish royals, Prime Minister Kristersson, and others hosted President Alexander Stubb and his spouse Susanne Innes-Stubb's recent two-day visit. The visit focused on strengthening cooperation between the neighboring Nordic countries both bilaterally and as members of NATO. In addition to defense and security, trade and export collaboration were discussed in good spirits. Importantly for us in New England, in one of his speeches, President Stubb encouraged direct bilateral export collaboration between the two countries. Indeed, as relatively small export countries act more together, we can have a more significant and more broad impact here in New England and in the United States.

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Location, Location, Location: For those wondering where to locate their start-up or growth business in the United States, check out this recent TechCrunch regional spotlight highlighting why New England, broadly and more specifically Boston, is seen as a joyful place where visionary people are supported by the experience, expertise, and equity of others to transform impactful ideas into scalable businesses.

Transatlantic Relations: On April 11, Amcham Finland launched their annual Finland-U.S. Economic Deep Dive 2024, which offers insights into jobs, trade, and insights between the two countries. Amid the recent decline in the Finnish economy, the transatlantic investment landscape accelerates the growth of early-stage companies. According to Amcham, on average, U.S. and EU companies that received transatlantic investments reached the growth stage and received growth funding faster than those that did not. Finland has significant potential to grow together and build more intertwined economic and investment relationships between Finland and the U.S. Read the Amcham Finland report. Sadly, the Finnish Business Angels Network annual Angel Investment Data shows a sharp decline in local investment transactions, amounts, and number of invested start-ups. In other words, transatlantic investments are needed and can have an opportunity to encourage outcomes for all parties.

Again, in the past month, I have noticed an increasing interest in doing business in the USA and, in my case, in New England. Nordic companies seek market research and entry advice, European executives seek U.S. inspiration for their strategies amid disruption, and I will host executive MBA programs from European countries in Boston in the coming months. In line with Amcham's report, I also hear more transatlantic interest in this end, as Finland and the other Nordic countries represent stable and knowledge-intensive regions for investments during a turbulent era in the world economy.

As we move forward, please share with me upcoming events, potential business visits, and exciting people with the scoping of this newsletter in mind. We are always excited to share expertise and experience in our NEF community.


Education and Research

Over twenty years ago, I landed on my first significant strategy advisory assignment with NEFCO - The Nordic Environmental Financing Company, whose mission is accelerating the green transition. Inspired by their strong focus on generating greener business solutions, my executive education and master's courses often emphasize the green transition empowered by design, business, and future thinking. Since September 2023, around fifty of my post-graduate teams with over 250 global students have pitched their greener business solutions to pressing societal problems to senior executives in Boston.

The starting point for each endeavor is the commencing Design Thinking Journey in the spirit of a well-over-one-hundred-year-old quote from my Finnish great-grandfather. Importantly, we must realize what has changed and will change over the years and define what remains intact to build sound strategies and more sustainable businesses. As the North Star, we want to create value for rapidly evolving customer needs while addressing significant societal challenges. If you want to check student work, click here for executive summaries.

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Cultural Exchange and Public Diplomacy

I am currently working with Harvard University Extension School Capstone students on finalizing a project to find ways for quality news journalism and news media to survive and thrive amid sharply declining subscriptions and advertisement income fueled by growing mistrust and disruptive competitors. We remain cautiously optimistic and believe there is a place for news media moving forward, but no one will be untouched, so agility, creativity, and grit will be essential.

On a somewhat related topic, Finland is getting more media coverage in the U.S. than ever before, and most of it is encouraging. In fact, in 2023, the most Finland-related news was recorded ever. Significantly, the U.S. media closely followed the NATO process and Finland's accession. Interest in Finland also extended to culture: conductors, new movies, and sauna, and Finland as a destination for tourism and investments. Recently, Finnish film-making took the international spotlight when British film star Emma Thompson spoke glowingly about filming in Finland.

Moving forward, we can all help promote Finnish technology expertise across most high-tech fields, Finland as a safe and exciting investment and tourism destination, and Finnish brands and consumer products here in the USA.

Finnish Architecture Legacy is being recognized in Cambridge, MA, as the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology Baker House celebrates its 75th Anniversary. In other words, the Alvar Aalto legacy lives on strong in New England. The building is a legacy of Aalto's time as an MIT adjunct professor in the 1940s. The Baker House, a student dormitory shaped like a wave (or ‘aalto’ in 🇫🇮) right on Charles River. The building is renowned for its active student life, with plenty of common areas that unite its occupants.

It is incredible to see what can be done at best when there is a shared vision, willpower, and people fully dedicated to supporting the common interest. Finns celebrated the reopening of the Finnish American Heritage Center in Michigan in the past month. Exceptional commitment by our very own New England-Finn, President Anne-Mari Paster and everyone else at Finlandia Foundation National, Council General Jarmo Sareva, and many others who contributed to this tribute. As I say, Together We Can!

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Aalto University recently released an impactful 60-minute documentary on making creativity happen, revealing how to foster a creative mindset. The Radical Creatives documentary is currently screening internationally, and companies and organizations can arrange screenings to encourage creativity and experimentation to answer questions like: What is radical creativity? How do uncertain and seemingly impossible projects move forward? Let me know if you want to organize a screening in New England. I will make sure to put you in touch with the right people.

Incredible insights from International Climate Negotiations

The following LinkedIn post shows our gratitude to Matti Goldberg, who helped us understand the opportunities and complexities of global climate negotiations. First, I want to thank Matti for a great event; second, I want to congratulate him on his new position as Director of Government Relations - International at Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, MA. We are already planning the next update event sometime in November-December 2024. Stay tuned!

Thanks to expert and highly engaging Matti Goldberg, our understanding of Climate Negotiations has dramatically expanded!! 👏 👏 As a Hult Professor and the Honorary Consul of Finland 🇫🇮 to New England 🇺🇲, I want to thank you on behalf of Finlandia Foundation Boston and Hult International Business School. I also want to thank our hashtag#Hult MIM volunteers and participants for their excellent facilitation and interaction. As one of the participants said, one could easily listen to Alice and Matti’s fireside chat for a few hours more. Well done! See you next time about this and other important topics!

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Community Engagement

Over forty Finns they met at Suomi-Koulu for the annual First of May Celebrations yesterday. You may be able to spot some familiar faces in the picture below. Notably, Finlandia Foundation Boston and Suomi-Koulu of New England operate on small budgets and are always looking for volunteers and smaller and larger donations. These are significant contributions to our Finnish heritage and society, so ensure you contribute to these impactful organizations and help the fantastic volunteers help us as a community. As said, Together We Can!

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Exploring New England: The State of New Hampshire

Each month, I summarize and benchmark high-level facts and information from one of the New England states; this month, we focus on the state of New Hampshire.

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Concluding Remarks

I hope you find the fourth issue of this newsletter insightful. Do you have any feedback or suggestions for content considering the above broad sections? The publishing date for my following newsletter is Sunday, June 2, with any materials due on Wednesday, May 29.

All the best,

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Honorary Consul of Finland to the City of Boston and the States of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 




Selected Dates (for planning purposes):

  • January: New Year's Day (Uudenvuodenpäivä): January 1.
  • February: Shrove Tuesday (Laskiainen): February 13 (2024), Kalevala Day (Kalevala päivä): February 28th.
  • March: Nordic Day (Nordens dag): March 23, Easter (Pääsiäinen) Mar 31 (2024).
  • April-May: May Day (Vappu): April 30/May 1.
  • June: Runon ja suven päivä (Day of Poetry and Summer): June 6, Helsinki Day (Helsingin päivä): June 12, Midsummer (Juhannus): weekend of June 24.
  • July: Sleepyhead Day (Unikeonpäivä): July 27.
  • August-September-October: Aleksis Kivi Day: October 10.
  • November: All Saints' Day (Pyhäinpäivä): first Sat of November, Finnish Swedish Heritage Day (Ruotsalaisuuden päivä): November 6.
  • December: Independence Day (Itsenäisyyspäivä): December 6, Jean Sibelius Day: December 8, Lucia Day: December 13, Christmas (Joulu): December 24.