History

VIEXPO- since 1970 at the point of the development

 

The cooperative Viexpo was founded in January 1970 as the first regional export promotion organization of Finland.  The establishment of Viexpo was led by a more active development of the foreign county connections of economic life in the 1960s, however, the development focused strongly on the Helsinki metropolitan area. The regional activities began to grow fast in Pietarsaari because the connections to Sweden were already developing at a good pace with the expansion of the school of commercial training and the beginning of the ship traffic. In the beginning, Viexpo had 31 members.

 

The idea behind the thought was to build a permanent exhibition hall serving the industry of the area with the export matters. The idea progressed swiftly and the exhibition hall of the tobacco factory of Strengberg was opened on 14th July 1970.

At the beginning of the decade, there were about hundred exhibition departments at the tobacco factory. The companies were presented either in their own departments or in the community department of their home municipality. In addition to the exhibition halls, Viexpo kept close contact with the Finnish commercial secretaries in the foreign embassies and arranged contact trips, among others, in London, Leningrad, Oslo, and Stockholm. In the mid-1970s, Viexpo organized the first exhibition departments to the companies of the area to foreign exhibitions. There were 15 companies participated in the exhibition of NOLIA in Umeå in 1975 and the following year at the Polari’s exhibition in Tromsø even 45 companies participated. A significant Mittnorden co-operation started in the late 1970s.

 

 There was a huge need for product development at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, and Viexpo was able to channel the state aid of the then Ministry of Trade and Industry into product development services.

 

1980: Viexpo grows and its operation expands

 

Viexpo has trusted to the power of cooperation from the very beginning. In the 1980s, co-operation with local chambers of commerce led to the establishment of regional offices in Kokkola and Vaasa and to hiring of an export consultant in South Ostrobothnia. By 1980, the number of members had risen to 191. To develop information sharing, Viexpo began to publish its own info-leaflet.

 

In 1982 Viexpo showed a true IT pioneer spirit and stepped into era of computers. The microcomputer maintained easily membership and exhibit register. The register included “all major manufacturing companies in the Ostrobothnia” and Viexpo’s connections abroad.

 

An important step was also Viexpo’s selection as Vaasa county’s Mittnorden-commercial house. The selection meant both financial support from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ and the permission to act as a Finnish organizer in most of the Mittnorden projects. As the decade progressed, the exhibition projects and Finnish joint departments grew increasingly important parts of Viexpo’s operations.

 

1990: New operations

 

Viexpo’s operation area was defined as Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia. With the co-operation agreement with the Finnish Trade Union, Viexpo gained VAM office’s (VAM = Export Agent) status and during the foundation of TE-centers at the end of the 1990s Viexpo gained a special position in its operating area, which is seen also today as Viexpo’s operates as the internationalization unit of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Ostrobothnia

 

After twenty years, the exhibition hall of the tobacco factory was closed down in 1990 due to Viexpo’s move to new premises in Isokatu, Pietarsaari. As the iron curtain fell, interest in the eastern markets grew. Viexpo participated in many important exhibition projects and also organized trips, for exampleto Russia and the Baltic countries.

 

Viexpo also made a deal with its long-term partner and established Ostrobothnia Patent Office Kolster & Viexpo Oy in 1989. Viexpo had its own patent agent who advised companies on patents, trademarks and collections both in Finland and abroad. In 1996, Kolster acquired Viexpo’s share of the company.

 

In the 1990s, two new ways of operations began: during Fact Finding trips organized by Viexpo, companies have gathered a lot of important information about the market and competitors since the 90’s and made important contacts. The export network (formerly the export ring) in turn brings together 4-6 complementary, but not competing, companies that together, under the leadership of the selected joint export manager, work together to open doors to the selected target market.

 

2000: Field-specific Activity 

 

Rapid changes in the international market have been more and more significant in the 21st century and, as a result, Viexpo decided to organize its operations in a new way. In order to better respond to the needs of the companies, the operation turned field-specific: machine and metal, wood, construction and furniture, food industry, boat and vehicle industry.

 

The importance of Asia and Russia grew strongly in the early 2000s. In 2004, Viexpo hired an Asian expert and in the same year started a project about Russian markets. The importance and popularity of the export networks had grown year by year. Companies co-operation and Viexpo’s support had significantly reduced the threshold for starting foreign trade. To date, Viexpo has already coordinated dozens of export networks with target areas around the world.

 

2010: Up to date

 

Today, Viexpo is one of the leading joint export project leaders in Finland. The main focus of projects is in Europe, and in particular, Scandinavia has increased its popularity during the recent years as a target country of Finnish export companies. The fields that are the most attractive at present are agriculture and forestry, construction, and food and energy. Viexpo annually offers Finnish companies several opportunities to participate in international exhibitions.

 

Viexpo’s experienced internationalization experts spar companies and move together with the companies around the world, for example on the exhibitions and fact-finding trips.

 

Viexpo offers expert and tailor-made language services to businesses, corporations and private individuals. Our language services help companies to communicate in the right language, in all business areas.​

2025: Doubling the export of SMEs

The importance of funding, which enables providing of basic advisory service, cannot be overemphasized when the goal is according to the government’s goal double the export share of SMEs (which is now 12%) by 2025. According to Viexpo vision, this must be the intermediate and minimum goal, and a part of proposeful work towars increasing the internationalization of SMEs.

Viexpo is a strong national influencer and actor. Viexpos roll on the internationalization path for many, today global, companies and as builder of export Finland has been and still is remarkable. The goal is to facilitate growth by competitive SMEs and comprehensive internationalization, and to double the export in the area. The goal is already close by the end of 2025. It takes resolute work besides the companies to reach the goal of increasing the export share from 12% to 25%. Viexpo works on the grass root level encouraging the SMEs to export and developing international activities alongside the companies. This way of work has been fruitful for decades and should be continued and further developed even else where if the goals set by the government will be reached in the near future in Finland.

 

Viexpo continues strong and will in future offer even more tailor made and holistic services and joint export projects. Viexpo has been one of the strongest arranger of joint export projects in Finland for a long time and about half of the clients are from other parts of Finland. Viexpos strengths are e.g. strong basis for developing export, business orientation, dynamics and innovations, very broad local, regional, national and international networks and networking skills, genuine bilingualism and rich multilingualism and understanding of the business/clusters in Ostrobothnia.