Finnish business incubator Radii Ventures is helping Chinese businesses take the first crucial step to the global market – through Finland. The company is treading in previously uncharted territory by using Finnish and Nordic design knowhow and business knowledge to build internationalization services for Chinese companies.
If you combine the work histories of Jani Joenniemi and Antti Silventoinen you get about 40 years of experience in design, marketing, culture and Chinese business. The two men had noticed that China was rich with advanced products and companies eager to break out of their closed home market and onto the international arena. However, the differences between the Chinese and Western business cultures were making it difficult for these companies. Could Joenniemi and Silventoinen somehow help them?
After careful research, they discovered that Chinese companies needed better branding, service design and localization to enter the Western market. In 2017, the two men set up a company, Radii Ventures, to offer their expertise to Chinese businesses and to act as a bridge-builder.
“The Chinese really value Nordic design and branding. Their need to globalize is growing rapidly, thanks to the development of their home market as well as government internationalization initiatives,” says Jani Joenniemi.
“The Finnish and other Nordic governments have also worked hard to build their brand and reputation in China, and this work is now paying off. There is great interest in the Nordic area, both as a travel destination and as a stable place of business,” says Antti Silventoinen.
Bridges for business
Radii Ventures has now four employees, offices in Helsinki and Shanghai, and a network of partners in Finland and China. Its business is two-fold. Currently, the company acts as a market entry platform, offering its expertise and services as a bridge-builder between the two countries. It works with Chinese incubators, which find suitable companies that are interested in expanding to the Nordic area. It also helps Finnish companies brand and take their products and services to the Chinese market.
One of Radii Ventures’s partners is Innospring, a leading Chinese incubator. The collaboration with Innospring and other Chinese incubators offers Radii access to a large network of Chinese businesses as well as information on their needs. This in turn enables Radii to bring a regular flow of Chinese companies to the Finnish market. Chinese incubators get added value as they are able to offer Radii’s internationalization services to their clients. Competition among Chinese incubators is steep, and these kinds of services are in high demand.
“In June, we will run an accelerator program with Innospring in Shanghai and bring a new group of Chinese companies to Helsinki,” says Joenniemi.
Typical Chinese businesses that seek internationalization have already grown past the startup stage. They often work in multiple fields and need a reliable support partner who can help them connect with the right partners on the market as well as choose the suitable products and make them relevant for the global market. They also need someone to show them the possibilities of internationalization because Chinese companies often see lots of risks in it.
Radii is currently also running a design incubator for Chinese companies together with the City of Helsinki, with five businesses considering a step onto the European market and very interested in Finland as an entry point for internationalization.
Leveraging Nordic design to help Chinese companies
Radii Ventures’s second business pillar is a more comprehensive service design concept, building on Nordic design experience and leveraging it to help Chinese companies enter the global market. The company is developing this concept with multiple design and business partners from the Nordics, with the help of governmental organizations.
“The support from Business Finland and Helsinki Business Hub has been and will continue to be very valuable in setting up Radii Ventures and developing our business concept. Helsinki Business Hub has linked us to their network of companies and organizations and provided us with very useful information along the way,” says Silventoinen.
The new design concept will be the core of Radii Ventures’s business in the future and it can be duplicated for different markets. It’s also something that hasn’t been previously done in Finland.
“Chinese companies see Finland as an ideal test market and entry point. Our greatest advantages as a country are expertise, reliability and economic and political stability. In the future, Helsinki could very well be the location of international headquarters of large Chinese companies,” says Silventoinen.
“Our goal is to be a leading Nordic organization helping Chinese businesses internationalize. On the long term, we may also turn to other developing markets. Companies in India, Southeast Asia and Africa are increasingly facing similar challenges and needs,” Joenniemi says.