Blog 20.11.2017

Finland – a goldmine for growth companies

Finland has a strong culture of well-developed growth companies. By combining a forward-looking entrepreneurial spirit and technological know-how with sisu and events like Slush, Finland offers a first-class platform for growth companies.
Lars Hagebris

Senior Advisor
Invest in Finland

- Scandinavian investors look to Finland for growth

After a seminar about the Finnish economy in Helsinki last autumn, a member of the audience approached me after the presentation and said, "Strange that it has to be someone from Sweden to come to Finland and tell us how good we are."

Finns are as humble as they are talented. Not many people know that the computer operating system Linux, text messaging, sauna, salty licorice and games such as Angry Birds and Clash of Clans are all examples of famous Finnish innovations.

Finland is a land of engineers and an innovation-driven business culture is part of the Finnish heritage. On top of this, Finland has long traditions in designing and innovating, not forgetting the successful game sector. Hence, it is not wonder that Finland, has the most growth companies per capita in the world.

Foreign investors have seen the opportunities on offer here: Finland is the most popular foreign direct investment (FDI) destination in the Nordic Countries. Some 30 per cent of all new foreign investments come from Sweden and, in addition, Sweden is Finland's second-largest trading partner after Germany.

Why is Finland such a good place for startup and growth companies? One reason is that Nokia attracted thousands of companies that helped them to develop world-class products, and now have every chance to conquer the market. Nokia's heritage and technological know-how, combined with an innovative corporate culture and an extensive collaboration between educational institutions, companies and the political sector, provides a solid foundation for growth and development.

Besides this, the enthusiastic and open-minded Finns ensure the development of the startups and growth companies. Statistics support Finland's reputation as a leading innovation ecosystem: 40 percent of all foreign financed innovation projects in Nordic countries was initiated in Finland.

Further adding to the buzz, two of the world's most notable startup events are held in Finland. In late November, Slush brings startups and specialists from all around the world to a hive of collaboration and networking in Helsinki between partners and countries. It has quickly become the biggest startup event in the Nordics. A few months later and the city of Oulu cuts a hole in the frozen Baltic Sea and fills it with company founders pitching their ideas to an eager audience of investors at Polar Bear Pitching.

Braving the elements, the latter especially showcases what could be the most important ingredient for Finnish success: sisu. For the uninitiated, this is the tenacity and resilience that resides in every Finn – it could very well be its most tapped resource.

About the Author
Lars works as Senior Advisor with Invest in Finland. His office locates in Stockholm and on his 25 years telecommunication and IT industry experience within international sales, he likes to make a difference. To help Scandinavian companies to differentiate themselves with Finnish capabilities is a great way to make a difference.