International business has been Unikie’s objective since the company was founded. We knew well that it would require a lot of hard work and serious investments. At the same time, however, we were aware that international projects offer large budgets and provide a lot of learning.
Unikie is a Finnish technology and software service company founded in 2015, and it has been one of the fastest growing Finnish companies in its field throughout its existence.
Bold orientation and investments in the export market are some of the key success factors behind Unikie’s growth. Unikie’s first wave of internationalisation success gained momentum in the automotive industry, in which the company open-mindedly invested at the early stages.
”We dared to look several years into the future”, says Markus Jakobsson, Chief Business Officer at Unikie. “The technology and expertise we are now developing will become key solutions for the automotive industry’s logistics and autonomous driving. This is where we got our first spearhead for top technology export”.
In recent years, Unikie has been growing at a yearly rate of 30 percent. This year, well over half of the turnover of nearly €70M will come from exports. During the next 3–5 years, Unikie’s objective is to increase its share of international turnover, especially in the export of top technology.
“Unikie’s strategy aims for 70 percent of turnover to come from exports and 30 percent from its own technology. In particular, information security, autonomously moving vehicles and machines, and artificial intelligence are key areas in the growth plan for the EMEA and US markets,” says Jakobsson.
In the technology sector, strengthening competitiveness requires more and more international cooperation and bold innovative thinking.
International cooperation also requires strong understanding of the special features and requirements of different markets
Unikie has dared to tackle even difficult international projects, which has increased the company’s expertise and credibility in both international and domestic markets. Today, the company supplies technology and services to several global Fortune 500 companies in EMEA and America.
“As a responsible and competent operator, we are allowed access to some of the most interesting projects,” Jakobsson sums up Unikie’s strengths. “Unikie makes innovative solutions that also develop Unikie’s expertise in Finland, create jobs, and increase exports.”
Markus Jakobsson has certain recommendations for domestic companies that are considering international business.
“Companies should look at how they can offer total solutions to customers. This you can achieve either by expanding your own expertise or by collaborating with companies in the same field. An open-minded attitude and a strong vision are essential as well. When a company believes in its own possibilities, it inspires others to believe in them at the same time.”
An example of expanding one’s own expertise is Unikie’s transformation in the value chain of the automotive industry by moving from a subcontractor’s subcontractor to a direct car manufacturer partner. Unikie makes software for several well-known European and American car manufacturers.
Examples of cooperative power are the strategic cooperation with the Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 -listed company Onsemi in the development of an indoor positioning solution; research and development cooperation with the UAE technology sector; and cooperation with the Norwegian company Northern Tech, whose global customers receive help from Unikie to enable secure remote software updates for their own products.
Possibilities, challenges, and responsibility of international growth
International projects provide huge opportunities, both in terms of bigger projects and bigger budgets. In most international projects the latest technologies are also in place, and this provides excellent learning potential for technology companies.
“The integrity of Finns is appreciated around the world and this offers a clear competitive advantage for us,” Unikie’s Chief Business Officer Markus Jakobsson underlines. “The technological expertise must be top-notch and the added value the customer receives must be clearly visible.”
When technology business is conducted outside the EU, additional new challenges are presented by the ever-changing global political situations and understanding the guidelines and legislation related to export trade.
“Whenever we export software out of the EU, we use our own process to ensure that we operate in accordance with current guidelines and legislation. Thus, it becomes critical to attract the right partners and experts in export control and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – partners who understand export-related legislation and official requirements – into one’s network,” Jakobsson describes Unikie’s way of ensuring correct and responsible operations.
In Finland, Unikie’s courageous internationalisation has created unique jobs, new expertise and, in the future, an increasing amount of new exportable technology. The value of a Finnish technology expert is high around the globe, and this is the kind of expertise Unikie needs and will continue to export.
“Our company can offer software experts in Finland work in very interesting international projects with the world’s leading companies. As a competent, respected, and responsible player, Unikie has the opportunity to work on extremely interesting projects,” Jakobsson sums up.