The 6th Wave and Systemic Innovations for Finland: Success Factors for the Years 2010-2050 (6th Wave)

The theory states that economies follow the path of long-term dynamic cycles or waves. A long wave lasts for 40-60 years, and consists of a period of rapid economic growth, followed by stagnation or depression. Previous research and a number of economic indicators lend support to interpretation that since the economic crisis of 2008, we now find ourselves in the last stages of 5th wave, about to enter the 6th wave.

According to the K-waves theory, each wave is defined by a specific set of technologies and societal practices that are unique to that wave. The transitional period between two Kondratieff waves is known from history to facilitate the entrance of new kinds of innovations into the market, thus creating the dominant socio-technical landscape for the next Kondratieff wave. At the same time, digitalization and the exponential rise of computational power  -both inheritance from the previous wave - create circumstances for new product and services. The project examines this process, and the effects of the anticipated socio-technological paradigm shift in the context of the Finnish society, and especially with regard to the traditional industries in Finland.

As our hypothesis we hold that the megatrends in world economy, such as the permanently higher level of commodity prices, as well as mounting environmental strains, are indicative of the new wave being predominantly driven by the strive to improve resource efficiency.  We believe the key driver for technological, economic and social change is resource productivity. Environmental technologies; biotechnology, nanotechnology and health care will be driving our economies during the next wave. A paradigm shift towards more efficient resource use is on the horizon, and its drivers are threefold: first, as many of the raw materials are becoming more rare, their price tends to increase. Secondly, in the growing competition the level of effectiveness in which raw materials and energy are being used is becoming critical.  Thirdly, growing environmental awareness and legislation are putting pressure on companies to use less harmful substances in the production line, and to serve their customers with less environmentally loaded products.

The theoretical work will start from collecting and validating data on the next Kondratieff wave, and proceed to analyzing the key game changers that will act as catalysts for economies and societies. The potential implications of these factors will be explored in detail in the study. The nature of the grand challenges that act as drivers for the next cycle imply that impending solutions will need to be systemic and able to induce significant societal transformations. The study will use the Kondratieff wave theory as a framework for understanding and identifying the potential for systemic innovation in Finland in the emerging cycle.

We shall draw practical conclusions and policy recommendations from the analysis, and build a toolkit that companies and public sector can use in their strategic work.   The core reason for this investigation is to find out the true implications of the next wave for our capabilities to invent those kinds of systemic innovations that are creating significant value for Finland.

The project is conducted in partnership with Finnish Forest Industry Federation and Federation of Finnish Financial Services, and in we will run a number of workshops both in Finland with our partners, as well as in the Silicon Valley in collaboration with Institute for the Future, an esteemed futures research non-profit organisation.


 Further information:


​Markku Wilenius
Sofi Kurki

Finland Futures Research Centre


The first project report is available


Wilenius, Markku & Kurki, Sofi (2012)  
 Surfing the Sixth Wave. Exploring the next 40 years of global change. 
FFRC eBOOK 10/2012, Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku. 124 p. ISBN 978-952-249-148-0.


Workshop Reports:

 Workshop at ITFT, 10 Dec 2012