By the numbers: battle to the Finnish

Based on the world's top 250 ICT companies, Finland created $56.3 billion in revenue in 2009, compared to just $19.5 billion in Australia.

It's going to take more than the National Broadband Network (NBN) for Australia to become a significant player in the ICT sector. In fact, it could be more of a hindrance than a help.

There's little doubt that Finland is a world leader in ICT. It keeps many people gainfully employed through those dark, winter days. According to OECD figures, 9.3 per cent of Finland's business sector is employed in ICT, compared to just 4.9 per cent in Australia. In fact, we are a long way down the list of OEC countries, with only a handful of nations beneath us.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)

Based on the world's top 250 ICT companies, Finland created $56.3 billion in revenue in 2009, compared to just $19.5 billion in Australia. Canada, an economy often compared with our own, created three times our revenue from the ICT sector. On a per capita basis, ICT revenues are more than twice our own in the UK, 4.4 times more in the US and eight times in Japan.

The US and Japan dominate innovation, too, accounting for almost half of all ICT patents filed in 2009. Australia put forward just 0.9 per cent of the OECD total. Finland might be losing its edge, though — it took out just 1.2 per cent of ICT patents filed. Still, that's more than us, from a country with less than a quarter of the population of Australia.

So, is there anything we can pick up from Finland? Are cold nights and dark days more conducive to deep thought? Interestingly, the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications has a different explanation. The ministry believes that the country's ICT innovation comes from the absence of a state monopoly in post and telecommunications. Now, that has to be music to Malcolm Turnbull's ears.

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