The Montreal Group: Innovative products and services are important for SMEs


Environmentally friendly financing, innovative products and services, online services and digitalisation are important themes for SMEs even at an international level. These themes were discussed in Helsinki in June 2017 as Finnvera hosted the annual meeting of The Montreal Group. The event attracted nearly forty participants for the nine member states of the group.

The Montreal Group, established in 2012, is a global cooperation group for state-owned national development banks focused on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The purpose of the group is to exchange best practices and innovations. Finland joined the group in 2014, and the other members are: Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Malesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Each year, The Montreal Group focuses on three key topics. In 2016–2017, these were Green Financing, Innovative Products and Services, and Online Services and Digitalisation.

During the course of the year, the topics are discussed in working groups that have members from all member banks, and the working group output is then presented at the annual meetings. The annual meeting in Helsinki was hosted by Finnvera’s CEO Pauli Heikkilä and Executive Vice President Katja Keitaanniemi, who is also a member of The Montreal Group’s Board.
An international SME event was organised in connection with the annual meeting

The three-day annual meeting in Helsinki was the first time that an SME event was organised in connection with the meeting, with cleantech and the Internet of Things (IoT) as its themes. This event, SMEs’ Helsinki Mission, was organised by The Montreal Group, Finnvera and Finpro, and its participants included over 50 foreign SME executives from six member states and more than 30 executives of Finnish companies.

The business event consisted of thematic lectures, round table discussions and over 120 meetings among the participating companies. The event’s cleantech companies also took part in the World Circular Economy Forum, organised in Helsinki at the same time, and the IoT companies visited Tieto, Startup Sauna and Nokia. The SME event received excellent feedback and will also be organised in connection with the 2018 annual meeting in Montréal.

Further information on The Montreal Group

Caption: Pascal Lagarde, The Montreal Group’s Chairman and Bpifrance’s Executive Director, opened the annual meeting in Helsinki, describing it as one of the most innovative cities in the world.


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