Finnish Wellbeing Center – an Innovative Landing to Japan

Education & Culture articles

Helsinki, 27 May, 2005 — Finnish Wellbeing Center – an Innovative Landing to Japan

What does “Finnish Wellbeing Center” or “FWBC” mean? The answer is: the name and trade mark of a recent Finnish innovation, which comprises a modern Finnish elderly care concept complemented by advanced Finnish technology.

The core of the concept is “Sendai Sun” service delivery model. The first real application of the entity has been erected in the City of Sendai, around 330 kilometers northeast from Tokyo, where a new elderly care facility opened its doors in December 2004. In its close vicinity, a research and development institution will be inaugurated in March 2005. In the Japanese welfare market, the concept “Finnish Wellbeing Center” is already known as a brand.

Japan is one of the fastest ageing nations in the world. The recent and still on-going profound societal changes in Japanese family and working life steer the trend towards institutional care of senior citizens. In Finland, the direction is opposite, i.e. towards the support of independent or autonomous living in home-like conditions. Japanese authorities and experts have, for a long time, taken a close look at the Nordic and, especially, the Finnish model of elderly care.

“Sendai-Finland Wellbeing Center”

The “Sendai-Finland Wellbeing Center” is the name of a complex consisting of two adjacent buildings in the Mizunomori area, around four kilometers northwest from downtown Sendai. The bigger building is an elderly care facility, already completed, and the smaller one - a research and development center, will be completed in March 2005.

Sendan-no-yakata “Terve” is the name of the special nursing home. Its 5-floor, 5,500 sq m premises offer single rooms for 120 clients: 100 beds for long-term care and 20 beds for short-term stay. In addition, there exists a day care unit for 15 clients, rooms for rehabilitation, recreation and hobbies, as well as – of course – a Finnish sauna with pool. The house is largely equipped with Finnish furniture and accessories, including several pieces of Finnish IT know-how. The feasibility and functionality of many IT solutions – including a small IT platform and wireless monitoring of motion capability – will be further tested for the best of the clients and/or the staff. The functional care concept is based on the “Sendai Sun” seamless care model, which emphasizes the dignity, autonomy, activity, and rehabilitation of senior citizens and facilitates their integration to the surrounding society. The keys to achieve these goals are a well-trained and motivated personnel and well-managed professional teamwork. An integral part of this working method is the skillful, frequent use of modern IT equipment.

Sendai-Finland Wellbeing Center R&D Unit, in the close vicinity of the care facility, comprises about 1,000 sq m of meeting rooms, an exhibition space and eight office rooms to be rented to academic institutions, researchers, and welfare companies. The Unit will serve as a scientific research facility, technology development agency, and business incubation hatchery in the field of aging, related services, geriatrics, gerontology, and gerontechnology. Several Japanese-Finnish joint projects will be conducted in the field of IT.

FWBC Finland Oy

During the planning phase of the FWBC Project, 16 Finnish welfare industry companies, mostly SME’s, joined the project to introduce their products to the FWBC complex, and on a broader base, to the Japanese welfare market. Later on, 11 of these companies established a joint stock company – FWBC Finland Oy – for further promotion and marketing of the unique FWBC care concept and integrated technical products. Also a subsidiary of the company – FWBC Japan Ltd – has been founded in Sendai.

Combination of Service Expertise and Advanced Technology – a New Export Product

The uniqueness of the described end-product of the project is based on the inseparable integration of a good, tested, and validated Finnish care concept and Finnish high-tech welfare products, including several IT systems, applications, and equipment. The end-product can be divided into smaller, independent functional modules for further marketing. By combining various know-how and product modules, the requirements of new customers can be tailored case by case.

According to a recent report launched by the Finnish Ministry and Trade and Industry, it is of extreme importance to promote innovations in the field of service expertise and advanced technology to new products for the needs of ageing societies. In practice, when developing new services for silver citizens, information and communication technology is in key position, for instance to promote the use of virtual services. New potential service concepts should be effectively identified, developed, conducted to products, and “branded”. To manage in this work, public-private partnership is an essential prerequisite. All above principles and goals have in good style achieved in the Finnish Wellbeing Center project. The international propagation of the end-product still requires further efforts.

The author, Mauno Konttinen is the Deputy Director General of the Finnish National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health STAKES, working for the FWBC Project since the beginning of 2004 in the service of Finpro, the organization promoting the globalization of Finnish trade.

The article is published in ICT Cluster Finland Review 2005.

More information
ICT Cluster Finland Review 2005