Finland as a startup hub

Photo: Sakari Piippo, Prime Minister’s Office

The Nordic region is the fastest growing startup region in Europe and one of the fastest in the world. In the past five years a vibrant startup scene has emerged in Finland and there has been an upward trend in entrepreneurial activity.  This has also raised interest in international private equity investors and global corporations looking for new business opportunities and talented teams to partner with.

Finland offers startups an open and easy business environment with networked and creative entrepreneurs supportive of each other. Helsinki has been viewed as the startup centre of Northern Europe, particularly in November at the time of The Slush startup-investor conference, organised in Helsinki every November, is a great place to get to experience the unique Finnish way. In a few years Slush has grown from a 300-person meetup to a full-blown startup festival bringing together 20,000 people from over 100 countries.

OVERVIEW OF THE
FINNISH STARTUP
ENVIROMENT

The first startups in Finland appeared in the early 1990s. The so-called ‘dot- com bubble’ can be seen as the endpoint, in early 2000, of the first Finnish startup wave, but the scene began to recover a couple of years later. The rise of the grass root student movement, which is behind the Slush conference, began at the end of the first decade of the millennium. This period also saw a dramatic uplift in the scene in general. Finland now has hundreds of startups, working in a huge range of sectors.

One of the engines behind the growth of the Finnish startup scene has been the hugely successful gaming industry. Today, startups’ business areas have diversified from gaming, software and digital services to the Internet of Things (IoT), healthtech, environmental and energy industries.

The Finnish government offers funding and services for innovative early-stage companies and encourages and supports universities to commercialise their ideas. For example, Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, has well-designed funding services for companies in different stages of their business development. Startups can apply for a smaller grant to explore the customer need and markets, as well as later funding for research and development and scaling up the business.

WHAT MAKES
THE FINNISH STARTUP
SCENE SO SPECIAL?

  • A well-functioning business environment supported by state of the art research and development facilities
  • A world-famous education system; school in Finland is free of charge all the way up to and including higher education
  • Plenty of incubators and accelerators to cater to startups from different sectors
  • A strong ICT and software talent pool of experienced professionals
  • Government funding and support services for startups
  • Slush startup-investor conference – the best window available to the startup environment in the Nordics
  • High standard of living and quality of life with public services supporting work-life balance
Slush Asia in Tokyo, April 2015 Petri Artturi Asikainen, Prime Minister’s Office

FINNISH STARTUPS
TO WATCH

  • Supercell, the world’s leading mobile gaming company, is best known from its titles Clash of Clans and Hayday.
  • Enevo offers a smart waste management service that uses wireless sensors to optimise waste collection routes.
  • Rovio, a forerunner of the Finnish startup scene and the creator of the Angry Birds, is now a global company on a mission to create world-class entertainment experiences with games, animation and much more.
  • Framery is a pioneer in manufacturing and developing soundproof workspaces. With carefully designed details the company’s phone booths can solve many major problems of today’s open-plan offices.
  • Wirepas is one of the rising stars of the Finnish IoT sector. Wirepas provides reliable and easy to use device connectivity through its centralised radio communications protocol.
  • Yousician is a music education company which teaches people to play the guitar, piano or other instruments with an innovative application.
  • Blueprint Genetics is a specialist in genetic diagnostics which offers over 400 tests to medical fields from cardiology to pulmonology.
  • Indoor Atlas’s technology uses a smartphone’s built-in sensors and natural variations in geomagnetic fields as a map to pinpoint locations indoors.

More on the startup community
slush.org 
arcticstartup.com 
startup100.ne

Finland as a startup hub