What are creative industries?

The role of intangible added value is a strong competitive factor regardless of the sector. Creative industries have the ability to express and convey values, concepts and meanings. Sustainable development, social well-being and ethics are emphasized as people’s values and attitudes change.

The Finnish family of creative industries encompasses everything from tango festivals to graphic design and digital gaming. Many of these sectors already have significant export value and even greater export potential. The definition of the creative industries must take into account that the field is constantly changing as new services and products emerge.

Most of these creative fields also involve the distribution of products and services. Digitalization has started a transformation in many sectors as the traditional forms of distribution shift to digital distribution channels.


  • Animation production
  • Architecture services
  • Film and TV production
  • Visual arts and art galleries
  • Handicraft
  • Sports and adventure services
  • Advertising and marketing communications
  • Design services
  • Music and entertainment services
  • Game industry
  • Radio and sound production
  • Art and antique sales
  • Dance and theatre
  • Communications

Creative Economy

In the creative economy, intangible capital is a major factor of production. The creative economy includes business in the cultural and creative industries and the utilization of products, services and know-how in the creative industries in other sectors to generate added value. For example, when a hardware store seeks to add value to its business by investing in service design, it utilizes the creative economy.

Creative Society

Logical thinking must be complemented by creative skills, interaction, and cultural understanding. The values of the creative industries go beyond the economic perspective. We should therefore question and use our imagination and creativity to visualize and design the society we want to live in. This means looking at our core values and identity, but also looking at the core elements of art and culture. As people’s attitudes change, values and the choices associated with them become an increasingly important part of our daily life and its quality.

Creative Economy Strategies and Programs

National strategies and development programs for creative industries and economy development are mainly the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Education (arts, culture, cultural exports, copyright and education policy) and Ministry of Employment and Economy (design, IPR and immaterial rights, employment and skilled workforce, entrepreneurship and innovation policy). The creative economy is however understood as a horizontal sector, with strong links to other ministries like Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of the Environment.

Creative Finland provides know how, information, best practices and more links to key actors as well as funding opportunities including links to strategies, programs, studies and reports

Ministry of Education and Culture on Creative Economy

Ministry of Employment and Economy, Roadmap to Creative Economy -publication (Finnish only)

You might also find relevant info from The Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), a national funding, expert and service agency for promoting the arts, and Cupore, Center for Cultural Policy research

Funding and Support for Creative Industries

Business Finland is the Finnish innovation funding, trade, investment, and travel promotion organization, headquartered in Helsinki. Business Finland is fully owned by the Finnish Government. Business Finland employs 600 experts in 40 offices globally and in 20 regional offices around Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.

Invest in Finland operates as part of Business Finland, helping foreign companies to find business opportunities in Finland. It produces information about Finland as an investment destination, develops and coordinates the national FDI work, networking actively with regional and international actors.

Visit Finland, the national expert organization for the tourism sector, operates as part of Business Finland, and is responsible for promoting foreign tourism to Finland. Visit Finland supports companies and groups of companies in the sector to develop and market tourism services aimed at the international markets.

innovation funding | trade | investment | travel promotion

Sitra is an active fund for the future who studies, researches and brings together partners from different sectors in open-minded trials and reforms. Sitra launches and implements projects together with the private, public and third sector. The range of the projects is broad and includes those that run for several years as well as short-term trials. The projects that receive funding are related to Sitra’s themes and the practical work they do. Sitra’s themes are Sustainability solutions, Fair data economy and Democracy and engagement.

The aim is to make Finland succeed as a pioneer of sustainable well-being.

sustainability solutions | fair data economy | democracy and engagement

The ESF is Europe’s main tool for promoting employment and social inclusion – helping people get a job (or a better job), integrating disadvantaged people into society and ensuring fairer life opportunities for all. It does this by investing in Europe’s people and their skills – employed and jobless, young and old.

Projects are working with employers to ensure that entrepreneurship, professional knowledge and creative skills are part of the curriculum, as well as providing a source of valuable work experience for young people.

In terms of social inclusion, the ESF is supporting Finland’s drive to help its citizens realize their full potential. In these efforts, particular emphasis is given to local and community-based projects and initiatives.

 employment | social inclusion

Creative industries and Xamk

Xamk is Finland’s leading university of applied sciences for research, development and innovation, and for continuous learning.

The Business and Culture training units and the Creative Industries research unit are located on the same campus in Kouvola. Through the close interaction of the three units, students, teachers and experts contribute to the development of creative economy expertise in multidisciplinary, international and regional RDI projects.

Xamk is strongly involved in the national roadmap work for economic growth and increasing jobs in the Creative Industries of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Xamk represents all polytechnics in the steering group.

RDI activities are nationally the largest in the creative fields in the field of polytechnics.

The scope and availability of Open University of Applied Sciences studies is the widest in the country.

Facts about Xamk

  • 10 872 students
  • 912 employees
  • 1780 graduates per year
  • 80 Degree Programmes
  • There are campuses in four towns: Kotka, Kouvola, Mikkeli and Savonlinna
  • 300 partner institutions around the world
  • Second largest UAS in Finland in terms of budget; annual turnover EUR 78 million
  • 87 million euros total volume of research funding
  • 15.7 million euros external RDI funding


Effectiveness and Strategy

Future-oriented learning, internationality and RDI have been highlighted at the forefront of the strategy of Xamk.

Xamk’s goal is to create its own and Finland’s success in international competition by being a genuinely student-oriented, international and strong expert in applied research.

Xamk profiles itself as a university of well-being, technology and the creative economy.

Xamk bears the responsibility for social, economic, cultural and ecological sustainability in all its activities.

Xamk strengthens the vitality and happiness of its area of ​​operation, generates innovation and creates new business.

Proof of the internationality is the Open Design University’s Game Design study unit, which is attended by 15,000 students from all over the world online.

Training and Education

The Creative Industries Research Unit does extensive collaboration with students and the teaching faculty. Our research projects regularly have students as interns, and student groups are participating in research project activities as part of their education.

The research funding has enabled us to invest in excellent digital research and teaching facilities, with equipment to develop and present state-of-the-art gaming and virtual reality technologies. In these collaborative innovation spaces, we host user-centric workshops and learning opportunities of various sorts.

We do research and development work in co-operation with dozens of schools, colleges, and universities in Finland and abroad. We participate in several collaborative activities with networks like European Network of Living Labs, the Finnish Design Academy and the International Game Developers Association.


Startup activities

In Xamk we utilize various creative methods in startup activities: learning by doing, problem-based learning, peer review based and interactive methods including service design understanding, future forecasting & research etc. We have created in-house helpdesk and interactive co-working spaces that offer new possibilities to support startup activities. We organize innocamps and hackathons to promote multidisciplinary teamwork e.g. focusing on real life business challenges. Our main annual startup event is *ship Startup Festival which offers high-end mentoring for early and pre-stage startups and a chance to concretely develop the business idea with 5 000 € price in the Pitch Captain Competition.


Cultural heritage

One of the Creative Industries Research Unit’s focus points is the development of local cultural heritage to boost regional vitality.

Cultural heritage has intrinsic value but it is also a resource for today and the future – in regional development, tourism, creating interesting living environments etc. We promote understanding of and respect for cultural heritage. Cultural environments are part of our everyday surroundings that carry meanings, memories and messages from the past. They are visible for everyone but their values may not be easily understood. In co-operation with stakeholders we aim to protect and use common resources in a sustainable way. We work towards enlivening cultural environments and creating a beautiful, sustainable and inclusive world.

One of our main development cases has been the built heritage of the world renowned architect and designer Alvar Aalto in Inkeroinen, Kouvola. Anjala paper mill, Tehtaanmäki and Karhunkangas residential areas and Tehtaanmäki school were designed by Aalto in the 1930s. Tehtaanmäki school is the last school designed by Aalto that is still in its original use. Watch here how we co-operate with the city of Kouvola to find a new use for the building.

What makes Finland special?

Finland has strong roots in the creative industries and an ample amount of successful examples of creative economy actors.

Finland’s education system is regarded as one of the best in the world. Education is a strong part of Finnish culture from pre-school years into adulthood.

Higher education in Finland has a dual structure and it is provided by universities and universities of applied sciences. Universities focus on scientific research and education based on it. Universities of applied sciences adopt a more practical approach that responds to working life needs.

Its culture is unique: the Finnish way of life combines all the advantages of a high-tech society with a love of the country’s rich and vast expanses of unspoilt nature. Finland also has a high standard of social security and health care, all financed by the state.


Sustainable Development

Finland has achieved the goals of no poverty, inclusive and equitable education, clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy. Finland is also on track to achieve the goal of decent work and economic growth (The Sustainable Development Report 2021).

Sitra is an accountable and independent future-oriented fund that is influential nationally and internationally and acts as a think tank, promoter of experiments and operating models and a catalyst for co-operation. In being accountable to Parliament, the future-oriented work is funded with returns on investments based on endowment capital received originally at the behest of Parliament. The vision in Sitra is that Finland will prosper by building a fair, sustainable and inspiring future that ensures people’s well-being within the limits of the earth’s carrying capacity.  

In Finland we have 5 goals:

  1. The ecological reconstruction of society and everyday life ensures adaptation to the earth’s carrying capacity.
  2. The economy is renewed in a manner that aims at increased competitiveness in compliance with the principles of sustainable and responsible development.
  3. Engagement and influencing opportunities strengthen democracy.
  4. The possible directions of future development are well known in Finland, different kinds of future are widely discussed and action is taken on the basis of future knowledge.
  5. Society’s capacity for change and co-operation increases.

The perspective and co-operative network at Sitra are global, but they primarily aim to influence Finnish society. The themes in 2021-2024 are: Sustainability solutions, Fair data economy and Democracy and participation. (Sitra 2021.)