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Finnish lessons for SA in life and work

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A Canadian-born Finnish lawyer set to speak at an Adelaide tech conference in July says a “broad foundation of trust” is one way in which local businesses could learn from Finland and increase their success.

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Hybrid World Adelaide (HWA) is back for its second year, with numerous tech and business experts from around the world set to descend on South Australia.

The conference is moving to the city after last year’s inaugural event was held at Tonsley.

This year’s keynote international speaker is Andre Noel-Chaker, a Canadian lawyer whose last 25 years living in Finland have been spent analysing why some people are successful in business and some are not.

His research led him to publish a 2011 book titled, The Finnish Miracle, that examines the values – in life and work – that he believes have given the Finnish people a competitive edge.

These qualities are embodied in the “three S’s”: saunas, which show how open the Finns are to each other; Santa, a Finnish character who embodies durability and entrepreneurship; and “sisu” a Finnish word for great courage, which that nation showed in great degree to see off both the Nazis and the Soviet communists to gain its independence. The greatest form courage, he argues, is to embrace both your strengths and weaknesses.

Noel-Chaker’s address in Adelaide will focus on the ways these Finnish social and business qualities could be applied South Australia.

“One thing that is the secret weapon of Nordic countries is a ranking system, particularly the trust index,” he told InDaily.

“In Finland 94 per cent of people would trust a stranger to return their wallet if they lost it on the street.

“Businesses with a high trust coefficient make goods of a higher quality, faster and cheaper than others.”

He also argues Finland’s investment choices are also a key to the nation’s success.

“Finland is the most innovative nation per capita,” he said.

“I want to stress the importance of education and R&D investment. Investment into these sectors allows for much more social mobility meaning that people have the ability to move into any field no matter their socio-economic background.

“These values (trust and investment) will help build a better society.”

Adding to his presentation duties, Noel-Chaker will play a major part in the event’s LAB program.

LAB is a space for new projects and products to present their ideas to mentors who will help to build business visibility and develop ideas. The State Government has set aside $85,000 in grants for participants who make it to the final stage of intensive shortlisting.

Last year’s winner, RHS ltd, aims to create technology to help identify types of cancer that use circulating tumour cells in patient’s blood.

Noel-Chaker has extensive experience in helping entrepreneurs build a brand for their product. He has played a role in Polar Bear Pitching, an event in Oulu Finland where entrepreneurs sell their innovations to investors and media from a hole in the frozen Baltic Sea.

While he is not exactly sure what kinds of products will be brought to him via LAB, he is excited at the possibility of helping the development of innovative new ideas.

“I know you have a lot of defence and security sectors in Adelaide so it would be cool to see what is happening in cybersecurity,” he said.

“I think one of your major car manufacturers shut down recently, so I would be interested in developments to do with, say, electric cars.”

He argues that his experience in Finland has taught him that the size of the region by no means dictates its chances for success.

“I feel that there is huge potential in your city and in your region… your entrepreneurs could be the ones to help build the future.”

Hybrid World Adelaide will include a free public program including topics such as virtual reality, robotics, coding, 3D printing, drones and more.

South Australia’s minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway, said the event was an opportunity to invest in the future.

“We want to bolster the state’s reputation as the forward-thinking centre of tech excellence in Australia,” Ridgway said.

“The international programs offered at Hybrid World Adelaide showcase South Australia’s ability to continue to drive the future of investments in technological advancements which in turn, encourages our next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders to grow and develop their ideas and business in South Australia.”

Hybrid World Adelaide will be run at the Adelaide convention centre from July 20-24.

Applications for LAB are open until May 30 for businesses and startups wanting to pitch their idea for a chance at $85,000 in development grants.

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