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Case 14.08.2023

The Storyfinder tool is exporting Finnish stories to global markets with support from Business Finland

Typically, the audiovisual industry has relied on contacts, events, and fairs when looking for ideas and the next success story. The Covid-19 pandemic changed the market permanently. As the world entered lockdown, companies were forced to develop innovative digital solutions to grow their business.
Ahlback Agency (Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency Oy Ltd.)
  • M.Sc. (Economics) Elina Ahlbäck founded the literary agency in 2009.
  • The literary agency represents, sells, and markets the publishing and translation rights of the works of Finnish and Nordic authors to foreign publishers, as well as the movie, TV, and theater rights of the works to international and Finnish audiovisual operators and producers. The company has good growth prospects.
  • Five employees in Finland and one in Sweden. In addition, the company has local sales agents in Asia and the United States.
  • Business Finland granted nearly EUR 50,000 in RRF funding for the development of the company’s new digital Storyfinder tool.

Read more about the funding call for the renewal, sustainable growth, and digitalization of creative industries.

Photo: Berkley, Penguin Random House USA

A story that is just right for your needs 

Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency, also known as Ahlback Agency, a Finnish exporter of literature and storytelling known as a pioneer in its field, was renewing its customer management system when the idea for Storyfinder was born.

“Storyfinder is a digital tool integrated into our website. It enables you to search for stories based on metadata and personal preferences. For example, you can search for crime fiction set in the Finnish archipelago in the summer, with a woman and a teenage boy as protagonists and secrets as a theme. In addition to the theme and characters of the story, the tool enables you to determine where and when the story takes place,” explains CEO Elina Ahlbäck.

“Storyfinder contains more than 500 works, the entire portfolio of our agency. The application will reduce the constant traveling of producers to trade fairs and is therefore a sustainable way to search for the next J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown,” she continues.

Our aim is to grow the business tenfold and put Finland on the world map permanently. 

For 14 years, the Ahlback Agency has been successfully exporting the works of Finnish writers to global markets. The agency has sold the publishing, translation, movie, and TV rights of Finnish works to more than 52 countries and Hollywood. Its brightest international stars include New York Times bestselling author Max Seeck, Salla Simukka, Maria Turtschaninoff, Mia Kankimäki, and Frank Martela.

Launched in June 2023, the innovative digital tool has been very well received and increased the number of contact requests from producers in the international audiovisual industry. Next, the company will continue to collect feedback to develop the platform further.

“Our aim is to grow the business tenfold and put Finland on the world map permanently. This is where Business Finland supports us,” Ahlbäck says.

M.Sc. (Economics) Elina Ahlbäck founded the literary agency in 2009.
 Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency Oy Ltd

Funding for expert and training services

Business Finland has been a partner of Ahlback Agency for several years. The total investment in Storyfinder was approximately EUR 100,000, half of which was funded by Business Finland.

In 2022, the project received a grant from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) through the “Funding call to support the renewal and growth of the creative economy".

This funding call is part of the implementation of the Sustainable Growth Program for Finland, which allows the allocation of a total of EUR 9 million to various projects in 2021–2023. The program seeks concrete new innovations in the creative economy.

"The solution offered by the applicants must take advantage of digitalization, and it must not cause significant harm to the environment. All in all, we are looking for novelty value and business potential, but it is also important that the applicant has sufficient resources to carry the project through,” says Kenneth Nyholm, head of Creative Business Finland, describing the application criteria.

It’s fantastic how the people in Finland believe in the rise of the creative industries.

“Storyfinder matched our funding call well. The digital tool helps people in the creative industry to discover interesting stories, characters, and settings, as well as to generate new success stories.”

The almost EUR 50,000 in funding granted by Business Finland was used to develop the innovative digital tool. Ahlback Agency acquired expert services from two companies specializing in programming and the development of digital applications. In addition, the agency used the funding to train their personnel.

"It’s fantastic how the people in Finland believe in the rise of the creative industries. We have managed to build something that stands out globally. We would not have launched this project without the support of Business Finland", Ahlbäck says.

The future looks bright

Ahlbäck sums up the meaning of the Storyfinder investment in two words: innovation and growth. Storyfinder has strengthened the company’s position as a world-leading literary agency. In addition, the product development will strengthen the agency’s core business – the book business – in the long term.

The world is in a state of flux right now. However, people will always want to read books and watch movies and series, which is why content will always remain interesting.

“I see the future as very inspiring. Nordic content is experiencing unprecedented demand, and the situation is bright for the internationalization of Finnish content. In addition, we are happy to continue our partnership with Business Finland,” says Ahlbäck with satisfaction.

Kenneth Nyholm sees good growth opportunities for the creative economy, too.

"The last allocations of the RRF funding under the Sustainable Growth Program for Finland will be made at the end of 2023. However, our normal financial services will remain available and we will continue to fund innovative and potential projects. You should always approach us with good suggestions,” suggests Nyholm.

Read more about the funding call for the renewal, sustainable growth, and digitalization of creative industries