The bright present of Finnish startups
Wolt, IQM, Swappie, Wirepas, Spinnova, Sulapac. Pia Santavirta has listed some of the recent successes among Finnish startups in her presentation slides. Together, they have raised over €1 billion in funding in 2019–2020.
And they are not isolated cases. Santavirta confirms that Finnish startups are doing great: they attract the most venture capital in Europe adjusted to GDP, two times the European average. Foreign capital plays a key role here as half of the investments in Finnish startups comes from outside of the country.
Investors in Finland are also a diverse group. The VC companies range from private to public and from general to sector-specific, and investors are looking for interesting startups in all stages, from seed to venture. There is also an active angel investor network. “All these investors are really important to boost the ecosystem of the Finnish startups,” Santavirta says.
An easy-going startup ecosystem
“Finland is a great place to start a company,” affirms Ekaterina Gianelli. She lists reasons that simplify the founding process: there’s lots of capital, no bureaucracy, plenty of talent, English is widely spoken, and the public sector supports new companies. She remarks that the small domestic market can also be an advantage for Finnish companies as they have to aim for global markets and solving global problems from the beginning.
The startup ecosystem in Helsinki is also a pleasant environment. Emma Lehikoinen mentions a few reasons: the availability of international talent means that hiring staff with specific skills – e.g. speakers of minority languages – is easy, the city is family-friendly, and the small ecosystem is easy to navigate. “Everyone’s eager to help. There’s this sharing and learning aspect, it’s easy to talk to people,” she says.
Ville Simola agrees. “We’re a community first,” he states, describing the Maria01 campus. With its focus on impact and responsibility and a mission to help early-stage startups, it is only fitting that the campus is located in the old premises of a hospital.