While people have the impression that Helsinki is a one company town, that image is rapidly shifting as more and more exciting companies move and start up in the Helsinki region. Personnel changes at Nokia make big headlines, but the region isn’t stagnating.
Right now we’re looking at an unique time for companies looking to set up shop in Helsinki. The capital area is home to the Nokia headquarters as well as many development and research functions, providing a nice cross section of talent to choose from.
Nokia is even playing a helping role to get ex-Nokia employees find new opportunities. Their initiative, the Nokia Bridge program was set up to help their employees find opportunities after their employment at Nokia, and has gone much farther than what is required by Finnish law. The press has focused a lot of attention on the grants the bridge program has given ex-Nokians to start their own businesses, but that’s only one subset of the program.
About 15% of ex-Nokians have set up their own company, meaning that there is a good deal of technical and business talent are available for hire in the Helsinki region. Nokia Bridge also aims to help laid off employees find other opportunities at Nokia, as well as find employment existing SMEs and corporations.
“Right now 60% of people know their next step when employment ends,” says Matti Vänskä, head of Nokia’s Global Bridge Program. “This number is encouraging and we need to work hard to continue with the program”
What’s impressive about the Nokia Bridge Program is that they support their ex-employees in finding new jobs, even if it’s in direct competition with their . If you need proof for that, look no farther than Jolla. The company has received grant money from the Nokia Bridge Program even though they’re starting a handset manufacturer out of the shuttered MeeGo operating system.
This doesn’t mean that only phone manufacturers working with open-sourced Nokia assets can take advantage of available employees. While Nokians do possess a huge amount of domain knowledge in mobile, they’re still ambitious and flexible enough to start companies based on sensors, 3D graphics for new industries, and gaming startups, just to name a few.
Employees from financial and HR backgrounds are moving to new positions, but are taking with them their core competencies. And, “When people are finding new jobs they are injecting their ICT and technical talent into traditional businesses, which makes them more competitive,” Vänskä points out.
Vänskä agrees that there might be some indirect benefits that come back to Nokia, but their primary objective is to help people and their communities.
The Helsinki region is going through a transformation, but its a time of great opportunity for hiring companies. Isn’t it every CEO’s dream to have a wide pool of highly skilled talent to choose from?
Text published also in ArcticStartup.com.