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Finland's economic opportunities from data centre investments

The data centre industry is a fundamental pillar of a rich chain of components that make digitisation possible. Digitisation makes an important contribution to the economy and this would not be possible without a well-functioning data centre industry that grows to meet the evolving needs of existing and new kinds of businesses throughout the economy – both large firms and SMEs.

Finland reaps large economic opportunities from data centre investments. Our study demonstrates that Finland’s data centre industry has the potential to grow from its current situation of supporting 11,200 jobs and contributing EUR 800 million to the GDP, to 33,000 jobs and EUR 2.3 billion by 2025.

The report further examines the ripple effects of having a vibrant data centre industry in Finland. These ripple effects ultimately make Finland more attractive to foreign investment and support the development of Finnish enterprise – all of which leads to a significant economic contribution to Finland.

Moreover, the study quantifies that, since 2009, Google’s EUR 800 million investment in its data centre in Hamina has created on average 1,600 jobs annually, and yielded an economic contribution of EUR 660 million to Finland.

In turn, the more data centres can work with local suppliers (as Google has strived to do) the more this can increase the local suppliers’ competitiveness. If Finland succeeds in establishing closer ties between the new data centres and local suppliers so that less imports are being used in the construction and operation of the new data centres, by 2025 this will support an additional 6,100 jobs and EUR 400m annually.

The report states that another ripple effect of the data centre is a signalling effect: known brands help Finland attract more foreign investment. It is a positive circle: Finnish companies get experience that increases their competitiveness in domestic and export markets. Existing investments also work as a lighthouse for foreign markets, inviting further investments.

In conclusion, data centre investments deliver considerable economic opportunities for Finland, now and in the future. This is an encouragement for Finland to continue to be a digital frontrunner and to take a leading role in the digitisation of Europe.

For the best possible scenario for data centre industry growth, we have identified 14 concrete policy recommendations, ranging from promoting digitisation spillovers through the economy to nurturing the supply chain benefit of data centre investments. Fostering greater skills programmes in universities and tech colleges will ensure an expert, diverse and plentiful workforce. Finally, increasing easy access to renewable and clean energy increases the attractiveness of Finland as a country that can host data centres.

The report was commissioned by Google and developed in close cooperation with the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

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