Finnish expertise in new material development and textile technologies as well as the open business environment attracted Japanese textile technology company hap co., ltd. to establish a new European R&D and sales unit COVEROSS Oy in Helsinki, with the help of Helsinki Business Hub. From here, the company is looking to reinvent and further develop itself and its innovative multifunctional material technology COVEROSS® and continue to influence people’s behaviour towards more sustainable consumer habits.
A t-shirt is no longer just a piece of clothing you wear to cover your upper body. It is also a multifunctional high-tech garment that protects you from heat, UV rays and moisture or prevents itself against dirt, shear and bacteria, to mention a few. When these functionalities are combined with innovative, sustainable ways to produce the fabric and the garment itself, a t-shirt, or any other garment, is also a way to fight climate change
“We want to motivate people to behave more sustainably and ecologically. Our aim is to bring joy and comfort to our customers, while creating something that can be passed on from generation to generation,” Moto Suzuki, CEO of hap co., ltd and COVEROSS Oy explains the mission of the company.
Japanese hap co., ltd. has been focusing on sustainable and functional material development, product, production and brand development and retail business since 2006. Around 5 years ago they started developing a new, next generation multi-use material called COVEROSS®. COVEROSS® combines more than 10 different functions into one fabric, for example photocatalyst, self-cleaning, cool-feeling, antibacterial and quick drying. When combined with sustainably produced textiles, the end result is a fabric which can be used to produce comfortable, high quality design products that are environmentally friendly.
The company has already formed COVEROSS® partnerships and collaborations with sustainable companies globally in Japan and Asia. Now, they are looking to do the same in Finland. The newly established company COVEROSS Oy will take over the R&D operations from hap co., ltd and lead the global business creation and development of new COVEROSS® functional and sustainable textile solutions. hap co., ltd in Japan will concentrate in the original brand garment business of BLUEY and BLUEY SUSTAINABLE CULTURE.
Finland is a leader in developing sustainable and functional textiles
Textile industry, both manufacturing and design, has a long history in Finland. While design expertise is still very strong, there has been a shift from the traditional manufacturing into developing technological innovations around fibres and recycling methods. Finland’s ICT background combined with a strong focus on sustainability have shaped the textile industry and produced some top-notch expertise especially in functional materials. New innovations are encouraged and boosted for example through projects like Finix which aims to rethink how we make, use and dispose of textiles.
“Finland is number one when it comes to the quality of research and development. Our target is to reinvent COVEROSS® and our company, and Helsinki is a great location for that. We are looking forward to working with the local research institutions and universities and collaborating with Finnish technological experts in sustainability and for example sensing materials,” explains Suzuki.
Finland is number one when it comes to the quality of research and development. Our target is to reinvent COVEROSS® and our company, and Helsinki is a great location for that.
Moto Suzuki, CEO of hap co., ltd and COVEROSS Oy
In addition to being technologically advanced nations, the similarities in Finnish and Japanese aesthetics, branding and people have smoothed COVEROSS Oy’s path. When topped with low hierarchy and local connectedness, it makes it easy for a foreign company to join the Finnish business and startup ecosystem.
“The startup ecosystem in Helsinki is great. When we met with Finnish companies and organisations, rather than thinking how to benefit from one another, both sides started to search for opportunities how we can create added value together. Finnish people are very warm, and everyone has been very welcoming. I see a lot of opportunities to collaborate with Finnish companies, and I think many Japanese companies would feel like home here,” tells Suzuki.
Finland’s openness and innovative mindset expanded COVEROSS Oy’s future visions
COVEROSS Oy’s journey to Finland started in the Autumn of 2018 when they first met Kuumeri, a consultancy agency and HBH partner in Japan focusing on accelerating business between Finland and Japan. Kuumeri then introduced Moto Suzuki to Helsinki Business Hub by organising the first visit in Helsinki.
HBH together with Kuumeri supported COVEROSS Oy in establishing the company in Finland. The company was linked with local academia and research institutions in order to boost their R&D pursuits. Funding and support is being provided by Business Finland. HBH provided COVEROSS Oy with relevant business information, introduced them to the local ecosystem to open new business opportunities and provided soft landing services, like guidance to the regulatory framework and certifications.
“Our partnership and cooperation with Helsinki Business Hub and Kuumeri have been very beneficial. It was important for us to have a local partner like Helsinki Business Hub to provide market information and connect us with the local textile industry, technological expertise and potential partners,” explains Suzuki.
COVEROSS Oy is now set to becoming a full design and textile solutions company. They are looking to employ 25 people in Helsinki in the next two-three years in design, research, development and innovation, delivery and sales roles. Finland’s geographical location and good connections from Japan to Finland and further to Central Europe and North America also aid the company’s target to expand to global markets.
COVEROSS Oy will connect existing key Japanese and Asian partners for joint research and co-creation. In Finland and Europe, COVEROSS Oy has also started building partner networks for business and R&D such as Telaketju2, a co-creation program to generate business from circular economy of textiles, led by the University of Applied Sciences of Turku, VTT and LSJH and VTT SynBio Powerhouse, an Espoo-based innovation ecosystem accelerating synthetic biology based business growth. The company’s objective is also to support Finnish and European partners to enter the Japanese and Asian markets with co-created COVEROSS® product solutions.
Our partnership and cooperation with Helsinki Business Hub and Kuumeri have been very beneficial. It was important for us to have a local partner like Helsinki Business Hub.
Moto Suzuki, CEO of hap co., ltd and COVEROSS Oy
The business environment in Finland and Greater Helsinki has already inspired Moto Suzuki to broaden his future visions outside the functional fashion industry. The Greater Helsinki mindset in open innovation and cross-sector collaboration makes pursuing new opportunities in areas like personalized fashion, health and hospitals or interior design and furniture more accessible. “I think the important point is the fusion of the best parts of Finland with the best parts of Japan”, summarizes Suzuki his experiences.