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Cleantech Finland pavilion a great success in Iran – big business potential for Finnish solutions

Cleantech Finland pavilion a great success in Iran – big business potential for Finnish solutions

Mar 17, 2016
Waste-to-value
Energy & resource efficiency
Renewables & smart grid
Clean water

Cleantech Finland pavilion was buzzing at the Iran International Enviro fair organised in Tehran, Iran during 29 February – 3 March 2016. Enviro attracted over 300 local and international companies and organisations to showcase their expertise. The Finnish pavilion consisted of 14 cleantech companies representing sectors such as renewables and smart grid, sustainable mining, clean water and cleantech services. 

Why Iran? 

For Finnish cleantech companies looking for fast growth, Iran is an interesting market as the country is returning to be part of the global economy after the sanctions being lifted. The country has a young, educated population of nearly 80 million people and a US 415 billion economy, making it the world’s 18th largest economy. Energy and environmental challenges have also been recognized by the Iranian politicians and municipal authorities, and there is strong willingness to change the situation with the help of the countries like Finland that have a good reputation in energy and environmental issues. 

Over 100 one-to-one meetings and great business opportunities

At the opening ceremony, Kimmo Tiilikainen, the Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, held his speech right after the main address of Vice President Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar from the Department of Environmental Protection. From a Finnish point of view, this gave a good start for the event. 

More than 100 b-to-b meetings were held during the four-day fair. Additionally, various site visits were organised also by the companies themselves. One of these was a visit to a Tehran waste water treatment plant where Finnish water companies had the opportunity to experience how a local plant works and discuss with the authorities and plant personnel.

Finnish cleantech was very well received at the fair. For some of the participating companies there even seems to be ready and concrete short-term and long-term action plans as well as opportunities for joint-ventures, for example. 

Lamor Oy, known for specialising in oil spill response equipment and service, is one of these companies. CEO Fred Larsen tells about their targets and views of the fair. 

"Our main goal was to find a local representative. During the exhibition we had the opportunity to meet many candidates, and among them we found a local partner, with whom we intend to form a joint-venture in the near future.

With the help of Finpro we also had the possibility to meet some of our key clients, e.g. the Minister of Oil and the Minister of Environment and representatives from their ministries. There is a huge potential for cooperation for us, not only on a company level but also on a bilateral, ministerial level, e.g. the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) would play an important role in the project. We are negotiating about a long-term, EUR 120 million project; the first stage would consist of procurement of oil spill response equipment and the second stage would involve services. During the second service phase, our local partner, the Lamor Iran joint-venture, would be involved.

We continue discussions with commercial proposal together with the Minister of Oil in mid-April. Our proposal includes oil spill response equipment, vessels, training, land remediation and refinery sludge treatment. 

We established many useful contacts during the trip. I have during the past years had the opportunity to take part in several ministerial business delegations, but this was by far the best one. It was very well arranged and the delegation had a joint theme, a goal and a mission that connected all the participating companies. I wish to thank the Ambassador of Finland in Iran and his team, who were very helpful." 

Another participant, Philipp Schmidt-Thome, Head of International Cooperation from Geological Survey of Finland, says the fair provided them with an excellent opportunity to find business opportunities. 

"At the Enviro fair our company got some ten leads, which were both from public institutions as well as from private sector. We are signing a contract, which is now in the draft phase. We are planning to return for a visit to Iran in May. A presence is required for conducting business in there."

"Further, there were plenty of chances for networking with other Finnish companies and find synergies for cooperation in Iran. Iranians are interested in cooperating with European companies. Interaction with potential customers was a positive experience," Schmidt-Thome concludes. 

Ilkka Homanen, Head of Industry, Cleantech Finland estimates that the business impact the fair created for participating companies is substantial. 

"My rough estimate is that during the fair we discussed and initiated negotiations on total business potential of at least 300 million euros. This is a very promising start for long-term growth plans for Finnish Cleantech."

Over 70 media hits in Iranian news channels  

Local media attention before and during the fair was substantial when the Cleantech Finland pavilion was visited by number of ministers with their delegations. 

Deputy Minister of Oil and Gas/President of National Petroleum Company, Ms. Marzieh Shahdaee paid a visit and invited all of the Finnish companies at the pavilion for an immediate visit to their fair stand. The discussions lasted one full hour, which can be considered a time well invested.

Also Dr. Ebtekar and minister Tiilikainen had discussions with participating companies at the pavilion. This was followed by the visit of another Iranian decision maker, Minister of Industries, Mines and Trade Mr. Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh whose responsibility it is to boost Iran’s industries by looking for technologies possessed by industrial countries. 

Iranian environmental matters

Iran has the world’s second largest natural gas reserves and fourth largest crude oil reserves. The country is also among the world's top producers of minerals, and is one of the global agricultural powerhouses. 

Overall, the Iranian market has great potential from the perspective of Finnish cleantech companies. The removal of the sanctions has opened up the country for international companies, and energy and environmental technologies are especially seen as ones with remarkable business potential for Finnish companies. First of all, this is because Iran is facing broad energy and environmental challenges ranging from energy efficiency, air quality and water contamination to extensive solid waste treatment issues. And secondly, the Iranian politicians and municipal authorities are in favour of changing this situation. 

Municipal solid waste management is one of the big challenges in Iran. A recycling system with proper waste collection and disposal methods is not yet in place. Therefore, municipal solid waste is a resource that can produce something beneficial and open business opportunities for Finnish waste-to-energy companies to make combined offers for municipalities and other waste owners over the entire waste management chain (collecting, handling, energy production and disposal). To turn business opportunities into concrete deals, it is essential to keep working as a team and take advantage of the whole support network including Finpro, Embassy of Finland and their local partners in Iran.

Another high priority area in Iran is energy efficiency. Iran has huge energy reserves but currently lots of energy is lost due to inefficiencies in industrial processes, buildings and electricity distribution lines, for example. Because of this, there are plenty of opportunities and concrete projects available which are also backed up by governmental incentives.

Team Finland focus on Iran 

Team Finland has been working for number of months prior to the Enviro fair. For instance, Vice President Ebtekar was invited for a visit as key note speaker to the Global Cleantech Summit in Helsinki last September. Minister Lenita Toivakka and a large business delegation had further discussions with Ebtekar in Tehran in December. The message from her office was clear: instead of one-time technology delivery, expertise and long-term partnering is needed. It was said that Iran is looking towards a new era in cleantech and sees Finland as a country that is able to provide high standard solutions, training and partnering.

The planning of future steps has already been started, and there will be further news on how Finland will be proceeding with regards to creating a strong foothold for Finnish cleantech in Iran and at the same time helping Iran to tackle related challenges.

Participating companies: BMH Technology Oy, Ensto Finland Oy, Fenno Water Ltd Oy (http://www.fennowater.fi), Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd. Finnfund (www.finnfund.fi), Geological Survey of Finland (www.gtk.fi), Indewe-Group (www.indewe.com), Kemira OYJLamor CorporationMarimatic, Mipro Oy (www.mipro.fi), Oilon Oy, Outotec, SET Group (www.setgroup.fi), Valmet Corporation.

Cleantech Finland is a network of top Finnish cleantech companies and experts. Learn more about Cleantech Finland here.

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