The Greater Helsinki startup ecosystem is the fourth most attractive location among 100 emerging ecosystems worldwide, according to The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020, recently published by Startup Genome. The report values the Greater Helsinki startup ecosystem at USD 5.8 billion, with total early-stage funding of USD 511 million, which is significantly higher than the global average for emerging ecosystems.
The report takes into account over 100 factors that contribute to the success of a startup ecosystem. The Greater Helsinki startup ecosystem scores highly for funding, market reach, talent and investor activity. It offers excellent talent at reasonable salary levels as well as good access to government funding and venture capital. The report notes that Finnish startups receive the most venture capital per capita in Europe.
Digital Health, AI, Big Data & Analytics are highlighted in the report as particular strengths of the Greater Helsinki ecosystem, reflecting Finland’s position as one of the global leaders in health technology and digitalization. According to the report, entrepreneurs in Greater Helsinki can also enjoy the benefits of a Scandinavian lifestyle at a lower cost of living than in many other tech hubs in the region.
Finland’s startup ecosystem has a long-established culture of helping out and giving back, which makes it an attractive home for new companies, according to Annamari Soikkeli, Senior Advisor at Business Finland.
“Finland is an ideal test market and springboard for startups looking to enter the European and global markets, with ready access to the eurozone and good connections to Asia. Also, Finnish consumers are tech-savvy and interested in trying out new digital solutions,” Soikkeli explains.
In Finland, startup ecosystems are recognised for making an essential contribution to the national economy and receive strong public and private sector support. Global success stories born in Finland include unicorns like Supercell, Rovio, MySQL and CRF Health. In 2018, Zynga acquired the Finnish gaming startup Small Giant Games for USD 560 million. Due to the earnout provision paid this year, the company’s valuation soared to 1,7 billion euros, adding Small Giant Games to the Finnish unicorn club.
Business Finland supports startups with funding and internationalization services, including access to its global networks. In 2018, Finland launched the Startup Permit, making it easier for innovative entrepreneurs from outside the European Economic Area to get a residence permit in Finland.
“We work closely with many stakeholders in the startup ecosystem. For example, Business Finland and Helsinki Business Hub jointly attract foreign researchers, specialists and entrepreneurs to Finland. Naturally, we assist teams coming to set up business in Finland regardless of where they come from. We want to make the Finnish startup ecosystem even more international,” says Soikkeli.
“When interesting startups emerge, they attract more investors. As the startups grow, there are acquisitions, the founders establish new startups, and more funding becomes available. It is a self-sustaining process where the growing network plays a crucial role.”