GOTEBORG, Sweden The third Nordic country after Iceland and Norway to introduce an incentive programme to attract international film shoots, Finland will shortly award the first projects through the Tekes-Finnish Fund for Innovation, which is in charge of a first $10.6 million budget for 2017.

“When the Finnish production incentive was announced in September 2016, we received the first enquiries. Since we opened for applications on Jan. 1, we have been contacted by almost 20 companies. If all their projects are approved and realised, almost a third of the budget has already been allocated,” said product manager Merja Salonen, of Tekes.

The size of the audiovisual industry in Finland is €2.6 billion ($2.8 bilion) annually, including a €240 million ($259 million) turnover from film and TV productions, she added, saying that “we think that can be doubled in three years, when the effects of the incentive programme have caught on.”

The goal of the Tekes-Finnish Fund – a “consumer-oriented and competitive service, which is the result of several years of research,” said Salonen – “is obviously to increase the number of international productions and investment in Finland, to enhance the growth of the Finnish audiovisual industry, and also to benefit related business areas, such as travel,” she concluded.

The new scheme offers a cash rebate of up to 25% on expenditure in Finland for feature films, fiction series, animated productions and documentaries, provided they meet certain financial and artistic criteria , among others minimum budgets and minimum spend in Finland, and that a Finnish co-producer or production service is involved.

Incoming productions, which will either be fully or partly shot in Finland, must use local artistic expertise – such as narration or direction, acting, production design, or some other creative role. Finnish locations or depicting Finnish life and culture are also qualifying criteria. They need a distribution agreement for at least one platform or territory.

Last year, Iceland increased its cash rebate for international productions from 20% to 25%, while Norway spent $5.3 million on its first incentive programme. In Norway one of the results was that the U.K.’s Working Title and Hollywood’s Universal Pictures shot Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s “The Snowman,” from Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s novel, on Norwegian locations.