Despite being far from the buzz of the biggest global business hubs, the Nordic capitals have done quite well when it comes to attracting foreign investments. Helsinki Business Hub and Invest Stockholm know that it requires active efforts, as investors may not find their way up north accidentally. The fruitful relationship of collaboration and friendly competition between Helsinki and Stockholm can bring success to the entire Nordic region.
Stockholm and Helsinki have a lot in common. They offer a stable, reliable environment for both people and businesses. Both cities have a strong infrastructure, a highly educated workforce and lots of tech expertise. Foreign investors and businesses don’t need to worry about corruption, and one handshake is enough to ensure that things will proceed as agreed. The similarity between the cities is not so surprising, if you consider the long history the neighbours share. But are there differences? What are the specific and unique strengths and benefits that Helsinki and Stockholm can offer to foreign investors?
Unicorn Factory and Gate to Asia
Stockholm has a long and prosperous industrial history, with companies like Scania and Elektrolux that have been around over a hundred years. These giants have lately been joined by a growing startup scene.
“Stockholm is also seeing a growing number of new coworking spaces and events, like the Stockholm Tech Week, which have spurred lots of international interest. One nickname for the city is the Unicorn Factory, stemming from the fact that we have six companies that have reached a billion-dollar valuation, including Skype, Spotify, and iZettle. Per capita, that’s second only to Silicon Valley,” says Erik Kruger, Head of Investments from Invest Stockholm.
“Our most important sectors are food tech, gaming, and fintech. We can basically offer foreign investors and companies a great market, with everything in place and ready for them to just come and start scaling their operations.”
The Nordic cities are one happy family. We all need to succeed, and the success of one benefits us all.
Erik Kruger, Head of Investments, Invest Stockholm
Helsinki and the Helsinki Airport form a crucial link between Europe and the Russian and Asian markets – an important factor in the city’s success. Helsinki is also globally known for its Slush and Arctic15 startup events and its blossoming startup scene.
“Slush has really opened the world’s eyes to Helsinki’s startup ecosystem. According to Invest Europe, Finnish startups attract more venture capital per gross national product than any others in Europe. For foreign investors, Helsinki offers an ideally sized market for piloting all kinds of tech solutions, for example smart mobility solutions. With companies like Supercell and Rovio, the city is also home to a successful gaming industry,” says CEO Marja-Liisa Niinikoski from Helsinki Business Hub.
“Other important fields are for example data driven or digital health, intelligent mobility and built environment. In health we have comprehensive records of genomic and health information, which can be leveraged to develop ground-breaking healthcare solutions. The city also enables fast trials, top notch piloting platforms and R&D possibilities in the smart city environment.”
Packaging together hard and soft values
Helsinki and Stockholm are already collaborating and combining their strengths to attract foreign investors to the Nordic market.
“Asian investors particularly see the Nordics as one market, and we can to capitalize on this. We have already organized joint seminars and other events in Asia and North America, and we are currently thinking about how we could package this joint market even better, as we have so many things in common. Combining our forces will enable us to reach out to potential investors more efficiently,” Erik Kruger says.
There are hugely potential fields of collaboration between Helsinki and Stockholm that we need to look more closely into.
Marja-Liisa Niinikoski, CEO, Helsinki Business Hub
“We can definitely still strengthen our work as one Nordic market. There are hugely potential fields of collaboration between Helsinki and Stockholm that we need to look more closely into, for example life sciences and health,” says Marja-Liisa Niinikoski.
Another thing that the cities and countries have in common are so called soft values, like paid maternity leave, time for family and hobbies, and short commutes to workplaces.
“Many expatriate families also choose Helsinki and Finland because of our top-notch educational system,” Niinikoski says.
“Soft values can be even more important than talent, so we need to package the skilled Nordic workforce and our safe, well-functioning cities with the Nordic soft values to attract investments,” says Kruger.
“The Nordic cities are one happy family. We all need to succeed, and the success of one benefits us all.”