What can we learn from Finns? After Study visit in Helsinki

Thanks to Innovation and Technology Centre in Radom we had opportunity to participate in the study visit in Helsinki Business and Science Park. Our representative Marcin Kowalik share his impressions and knowledge gained during the visit.

Interdisciplinary nature of The Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Helsinki Metropolitan Area is often called a dynamic business and innovation center. City built its power on promoting cooperation between different branches of industry including creative businesses, arts, culture and society. Interdisciplinary nature of the region brings opportunities for citizens to develop their ideas and engages in entrepreneurship on diverse scales.

The Aalto University

It is a new university composed of the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology. The merger of 3 different universities presents Finnish attitude to create new on the basis of the old. Connecting economics, art, design and technology Aalto Univeristy covers most needs of future industry becoming one of the most innovative universities in the world.

How entrepreneurship is promoted in Helsinki?

Helsinki Business Hub is the investment promotion agency for Greater Helsinki (metropolitan area in Helsinki). The Hub helps international companies to thrive in Finland, Russia and the Baltics. Investments for stimulating innovative entrepreneurship and supporting new initiatives reaches 3 million euros yearly.

Tekes R&D funding model

Tekes is the most important publicly funded expert organization for financing research, development and innovation in Finland. They focus on activities in research communities, industry and service sectors.
Tekes total R&D funding in 2012 reached 570 million euros and 1640 projects. This includes 236 million euros from R&D grants to companies and public organizations, 217 million euros research funding for universities, research institutes and polytechnics and 117 million euros in R&D loans to companies.

Otaniemi – bridging innovation and business

Otaniemi is no. 1 hitech hub in Northen Europe often called Finland’s Sillicon Valley. There are 25 R&D centres with 5 000 researchers working with 16 000 hitech professionals. It is estimated that Otaniemi creates 50% of Finland’s R&D value.

Startup Sauna – non-profit organization for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs

Startup Sauna has been founded in 2010 to implement startup ecosystem into the region and create the right conditions for startup growth.
Startup Sauna carries out its mission by implementing three types of operations:
1. Internships for aspiring entrepreneurs in high growth companies in Helsinki and in Silicon Valley
2. An accelerator program for early-stage startups from Northern Europe and Russia
3. The Slush conference bringing together startup ecosystem, venture capitalists and media around the world.

[accordion][spoiler title=”Startup Sauna in numbers”] So far Startup Sauna matched more than 60 interns up with companies to let them learn how to run their own business. Ninety companies have graduated accelerator program since 2010 and raised a total of over USD 25 million of funding. Last year Slush conference gathered more than 3.500 attendees, 550 companies and 250 investors and journalists for two days in Helsinki.[/spoiler][/accordion]

What can we learn from Finns?

It is clear, that Helsinki opted for entrepreneurship. Multitude of initiatives shows openness to changes and willingness to support aspiring entrepreneurs. It is worth to note, that Finns see the future in connecting art with business and science.
However, the most important thing is well planned and coordinated innovation policy conducted by the Ministry of Economics and Labour. Without support of administrative sector, none of mentioned initiatives could not take place.

fot. Auditorium in Aalto University‘s main building, designed by Alvar Aalto, source: Wikimedia Commons, author: J-P Kärnä