“Finland’s where everyone, including entrepreneurs, thrive, free from friction and with limitless potential – WITH room to roam. This isn’t a place; this is a community.”
– Paavo Virkkunen, Executive Director, Finland Promotion Services, at Business Finland
Constantly ranked highly in the league tables of the world’s most innovative countries, Finland’s burgeoning tech ecosystem has grand ambitions, far above the size of the country.
Despite a population size of just over 5.5 million, the country that gave the world the first heart rate monitor, the web browser, wind turbines, reflectors for walkers, SMS messaging, saunas, Nokia phones, Angry Birds and 5G technology, is proving itself as a leading light in the start-up tech scene.
“Finland’s tech ecosystem is where ‘what’s next’ is happening right now. Where big ideas step into the light of day and unmet needs are fulfilled by creative minds. But this isn’t just a place. Call it a family, society, or clan, whoever you are, you need to be a part of it,” explains Paavo Virkkunen, Executive Director, Finland Promotion Services, at Business Finland.
The world’s leading founders, investors, and executives recently gathered in Helsinki for the return of start-up event Slush, where the country invited entrepreneurial talent and forward-thinking companies to join the Finnish community.
Finland’s industry ecosystems are open to international collaboration and provide cutting-edge research and testing environments. In addressing the challenges of sustainability, climate change mitigation and energy system transformation with a systemic circular economy approach, Finland is also creating new business opportunities in multiple sectors.
“Why do we need all this technology?” asks Pekka Sivonen, Head of Finnish Liaison- office for EU Research and Innovation. “Because we want Finland to lead the way to a zero-carbon future. To do this, we’re boosting the speed and scale-up of new innovations, enabling Finland to maximize its global carbon handprint and create long-term business opportunities globally,” he adds.
Finnish ICT technologies and know-how are enabled by active collaboration between companies, universities, and research institutions, combined with a famously vibrant start-up scene and many innovative testbeds. Maria 01, for example, is a community-driven entrepreneurial community and campus for startups based in an old hospital in Helsinki. It is currently oversubscribed, despite having 20,000 square meters of space, and is seeking to rapidly expand. Its 1,300 members and 170 companies have so far raised more than €348m in funding.
The country also offers the best available testing environment for 5G network technology and beyond; there are six separate 5G test networks, each designed for different use cases. The 6G flagship research program, led by the University of Oulu, is also open to international companies that are interested in the possibilities of next-generation wireless technologies. And its staff have been voted some of the happiest in the world: Finland ranks first in the UN’s international comparison of sustainable development, related to poverty alleviation, health, education, water, energy, reducing inequality, peace, and the rule of law. With healthcare and income security guaranteed for everyone in Finland, it is no coincidence that Finland ranks as one of the most socially just countries in the world – and one of the best countries in the world for gender equality.
“Finland is a community where everyone, including entrepreneurs, thrive, free from friction and with limitless potential. This isn’t a place; this is a community. One that stands against boundaries, barriers, and bottlenecks, and stands up for the creative rule-breakers and game-changers of our time. Our rapidly growing tech scene packs a punch and we’re expanding at a rapid rate. We truly believe this is down to our collaborative approach to building tech companies and our progressive society. We’re inviting you to join our frictionless Finland,” concludes Paavo Virkkunen.
To find out more about what Finland has to offer entrepreneurs, investors and talent, click here.