The Helsinki region offers a host of services and support for startup companies. If you are looking for a business hub, acceleration services, networking events or funding, look no further. We put together some of the most important startup services.
As the Helsinki region struggles to get its economy back on track, it sets high expectations for startup companies. Startups are not only seen as potential beacons of hope for Finnish exports but also potential employers and taxpayers. Many public and private organizations offer support and services for startups.
Boost from a hub
The best-known startup services are perhaps startup hubs and communities. The technology center of Otaniemi in Espoo is home to several. One of them is Startup Sauna, which operates as an accelerator for startups, helping them find their market and grow their business. Its coaches are prominent entrepreneurs, investors and experts. Startup Sauna also organizes coaching events for example in the Nordic countries, Eastern Europe and Russia.
– Our goal is to make Helsinki a good place for entrepreneurs and to create more startup success stories, says Juho Kokkola, CEO of Startup Sauna.
EnterpriseHelsinki and the City of Helsinki also set up a new entrepreneur center in 2014. Yrityslinna provides a wide selection of services to all kinds of companies, but its NewCo Factory service is specifically catered to startups with international growth potential. It offers personal advice and support on product and service development, marketing and distribution, legal matters and finding early funding. It also organizes pitching and investor events and offers office space.
– We help companies from the very start to the point when they are ready for rocketing growth. Internationalization is often a prerequisite for growth, and growth companies offer a large share of all new jobs, says Timo Onnela, Head of EnterpriseHelsinki.
Another new startup hub, HUB13, was founded this year in the very heart of Helsinki. HUB13 offers office space, premises for meetings and events, a large network and an inspiring environment for startups.
Universities sprouting business
Aalto University has been the springing board for many startup communities, including Startup Sauna. It also has its own Aalto Start-Up Center, a business accelerator offering startups premises, business development and coaching, support for finding funding and a wide network of business experts. It is meant for companies in the fields of information and communications technology and creative business. All startups can apply to Aalto Start-Up Center, not only those connected to the university.
The University of Helsinki also runs its own entrepreneurship community Helsinki Think Company in cooperation with the City of Helsinki. Helsinki Think Company welcomes anyone; it is not limited to students of the university. It offers co-working spaces and support for developing business ideas and finding contacts. It also organizes events, workshops, courses and networking.
Meeting investors offline and online
One of the most visible startup events is Slush, which is organized annually in Helsinki. At Slush, Eurasian startups can meet top-tier international investors and executives in one-on-one meetings. This year, the seventh Slush brings together 10.000 participants, over 2.500 companies and over 350 journalists. So what does Slush offer a startup? Networking, funding opportunities and media coverage.
The Arctic15 startup conference also brings together entrepreneurs, investors and international speakers. The event offers e.g. networking, pitching, reverse pitching and workshops. Arctic15 is organized by ArcticStartup, an independent technology blog reporting on digital startups in the Nordic and Baltic countries. ArcticStartup also maintains an index of Nordic and Baltic startups.
Startup100, on the other hand, is a website that ranks Finnish startups monthly, based on their online marketing activities and performance. It publishes a monthly Top10 list of the best, thus providing information about startups to potential investors.
Funding and acceleration
In addition to a multitude of other investors, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes offers funding for companies that are capable of fast international growth. In 2013, it provided funding for 680 startups. Its startup funding is channeled to companies preparing for global growth, to young innovative companies and to research and product development activities.
Tekes also runs an acceleration program called Vigo for innovative startups with global potential and an ambition to grow fast. The program connects young companies with internationally experienced entrepreneurs and funding.
So, what are you still waiting for?
Text: Anu Jussila