Helsinki’s reputation as a startup hotbed has not gone unnoticed abroad. Techcode has chosen the city as the location for its first incubator in the Nordics.
Beijing-based incubator Techcode was only founded in 2014 but it has already built an international presence. Today, in addition to several incubators in China, the company has bases in Germany, Israel, South Korea and the US with a mission to create a global innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Helsinki became the latest addition to this growing network in November 2016 as Techcode opened its fifth incubator abroad in the Finnish capital.
“What attracted us to Helsinki is its hi-tech and well educated population, rich technology scene combined with good innovation ecosystem and innovation-friendly government,” explains Holo Zheng, General Manager of Techcode Helsinki.
How Techcode works is it provides selected promising startups with facilities, mentoring, training and funding through a network of investors. Furthermore it helps companies get their foot in the Chinese market and establish relationships with local partners.
These same principles are applied in Finland where Techcode is looking for companies in hardware, artificial intelligence (AI), medical and biotechnology as well as smart city sectors. All accepted applicants get access to the incubator’s 1,000 square meter office space in Helsinki and its services.
“We aim to support companies at different stages in different ways,” says Zheng. “These include for example office space, communities, accelerator programmes and soft-landing services.”
Currently Techcode has five employees in Finland, who are supported by its global team, and plans to recruit four new people within the next year.
The right time and location
Techcode focuses on three factors when choosing the right companies for its incubators: the quality of the team, the technology plus its relevancy to the Chinese market. And it has plenty of experience here. In the past two years, Techcode has helped incubate over 300 startups and worked with a total of over 1,500 startups on various projects.
In Finland, the company is in active discussion with 40 startups interested in its services and some of them are possibly moving into its office space in Helsinki.
Although it was Helsinki’s technology credentials that originally attracted Techcode to the city, the decision was made easier by the support offered from Finnish development organisations Finpro and Helsinki Business Hub. They helped Techcode connect with potential local partners and find the right office location, close to other major technology companies such as Supercell.
“We received a lot of help, especially with the location and the timing of our launch [which was announced at Northern Europe’s biggest startup event Slush in Helsinki],” Zheng says. “They have also helped to organise a Finnish winter sport companies’ visit to China in January. We will continue to cooperate widely in the near future.”
One potential future project for Techcode Helsinki is launching its own accelerator programme. Currently running in many locations, including a large US programme in Silicon Valley, Techcode’s accelerators focus on providing globally interesting projects with more personalised services, helping them to grow fast and land in the Chinese market.
Building a startup nation
It is Techcode’s expertise in China, strong relationships with local government and a partnership with one of China’s biggest real estate companies CFLD that have helped the incubator grow rapidly. But for Techcode 17 locations in 6 countries is just the start. In the next few years the company plans to expand its innovation ecosystem to cover 15 countries with the aim of creating ‘a startup nation without borders’.
Helsinki plays an important role in these plans as Techcode’s first incubator in Northern Europe. And it is the one the company sees as having plenty of potential:
“Helsinki is a very promising city and a regional leader. And it will only continue to grow as it becomes more and more international,” Zheng concludes.
If you are a startup interested in services with a global reach as well as strong access to the Chinese market, please contact Michael Haralson, Deputy General Manager (Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org) or directly Huageng Chi, Project Manager (email@example.com).
Read more about Techcode from www.techcode.com
Text: Eeva Haaramo