Finland’s investment promotion agency, Finpro - Invest in Finland, led a delegation of senior business executives from North America to tour Finland’s renowned tech industry on November 28, 2016. Led by Finpro Directors, Kristina L. Garcia and Richard Stanaro, the delegation included ten, high-level decision-makers from the U.S. technology and finance sectors, representing companies from key technology and innovation clusters in Seattle, Silicon Valley/San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Austin from organizations such as The Capital Factory, Current power by GE, gust, DigitalNYC, Motaword and N3 Capital.
Finland’s tech ecosystem was showcased both in the capital city of Helsinki, home to Slush, held each year in late November – early December, and in the country’s largest industry city, Tampere. Europe’s largest Tech Startup Conference, and one that is often characterized as “Burning Man meets TED,” Slush drew over 17,500 attendees and recorded over one million viewers of their live stream coverage. Over 2,300 startups, 1,100 VC, and 600 journalists from over 120 countries came together to network, drive business and experience the phenomenal atmosphere. Speakers included Chris Barton co-founder of Shazam; Arielle Zuckerberg, Partner at Kleiner Perkins; Daniel Ek, Chairman and CEO of Spotify, and Ilkka Paananen, CEO and co-founder of Supercell.
The delegation began with a day in Tampere, home to the first smartphone, hosted by Finpro - Invest in Finland in Tampere in cooperation with Tampere Region Economic Development Agency (TREDEA). The USA delegates were warmly welcomed and provided with the history of the city and received briefings at Tampere University of Technology (TUT) on the Industry 4.0 landscape in Finland, the start-ups founded by Nokia and Microsoft alumni, and Tampere’s Smart City program among other topics.
Fred Schmidt, Director- International, The Capital Factory, commented, “Tampere area has a lot of talent. They are transferring from software, mobile applications and cloud services back to concrete devices such as unmanned aircrafts, virtual reality devices and health technology. All of these require engineer and developer knowledge, the things that Tampere have been strong for a long time already.” Schmidt added that there are lot of intelligent and diligent people in Tampere, and states it as a good city to establish new companies now.
Back in Helsinki, Antti Aumo, Executive Vice President of Finpro’s Invest in Finland unit, and Arto Pussinen, Head of ICT & Digitalization in Invest in Finland, kicked off the day by demonstrating Finland’s unique strategic advantages as a tech superpower for R&D, new product development and as a rich source of innovative companies and talent. The delegates were also briefed by the regional economic development office, Helsinki Business Hub, and TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation that funds research, development and innovation in Finland in partnership with companies like Rolls Royce and IBM.
Meetings with Helsinki tech companies included the start-up Industryhack; Idean, the global UX design company; Amer Sports (owner of brands such as Wilson and Precor, working on digitalizing sports); and numerous start-ups located at GE’s Health Innovation Village. This diverse delegation from the USA connected to all aspects of Finland’s ecosystem. They experienced first-hand the strength of Finnish innovative technology companies and entrepreneurial spirit.
Finland, Northern Europe’s tech capital, was summarized by Evren Ay, Founder & CEO of Motaword, “Finland is energetic, serious about business and diversification from the old Nokia dependency. The country is full of talented and educated workforce that has been trained in corporate culture and ready to take on new challenges - either as part of up and coming companies or entrepreneurs.”
Finland ranks 1st in the study of Countries’ Impact on Global Innovation and has the highest R&D expenditure in Europe by percentage of GDP. Low operational costs, low corporate taxes at 20%, and the only Nordic country to use the Euro make this country with a population of only 5.5 million really stand out as an attractive destination for innovative, globally ambitious companies and investors! Finland’s innovation intensity and friendly, efficient and transparent business climate are just two of the most important reasons it ranked as the top market for foreign investment in the EU recently by the European Commission.
Kristina L. García, Director, Invest in Finland, (NYC) Kristina.garcia(at)finpro(dot)fi, Tel: +1 917-455-4312
Richard Stanaro, Director, Invest in Finland, (San Francisco) Richard.stanaro(at)finpro(dot)fi, Tel: + 1 415-528-1666
Finpro’s Invest in Finland assists international companies in finding business opportunities in Finland and produces information about Finland as an investment location. In addition, Invest in Finland develops and coordinates the national FDI promotion work networking actively with regional and international actors. Invest in Finland also compiles information about foreign-owned companies in Finland.
Finpro helps Finnish SMEs go international, encourages foreign direct investment in Finland and promotes tourism. Finpro is formed by Export Finland, Visit Finland and Invest in Finland. Finpro is a public organization with 240 professionals working in 37 offices in 31 countries and 6 regional offices in Finland.
Finpro – Growth for Finland