Russian entrepreneur Andrey Shigaev, CEO of Geyser Batteries, has become one of the first persons to receive the Finnish Startup Permit, a newly introduced residence permit that can be granted to a person who has established or will establish a startup business in Finland. Geyser Batteries is developing and producing a novel type of high-power ultra-durable batteries with energy densities comparable with those of Li-ion battery modules.
"My team is aiming to disrupt the energy storage market by delivering a product that is superior to the supercapacitors, and what's more – showing better economics in heavy-duty applications than Li-ion batteries do," says Shigaev.
Geyser Batteries plans to locate a pilot manufacturing plant and R&D centre in Vaasa, Western Finland, known as the biggest energy ecosystem in the Nordic countries.
A Startup Permit requires a favourable assessment from Business Finland to support the application made to the Finnish Immigration Service Migri.
"We already had plans for doing business in Finland before the Startup Permit was introduced so Business Finland knew about us. Also, by the time the program was announced we were already selected to take part in Vaasa's EnergySpin startup accelerator," explains Shigaev.
"The Startup Permit application process itself was quick and straightforward. Once Business Finland made the decision to support our application, the process with Migri was extremely fast. Otherwise getting a residence permit decision could have taken months."
The Startup Permit is meant for innovative startup founders coming from countries outside the European Union. The residence permit is valid for two years, after which it can be extended.
"I can definitely recommed the Startup Permit to other entrepreneurs. If you have a clear vision for why your business needs to be in Finland, a reasonable business plan and a professional team, then this is the way to start a business as smoothly as possible," says Shigaev.
He advises entrepreneurs from abroad to actively tap into Finland's startup ecosystem for its valuable support and contacts.
"It is worth mentioning that after the Startup Permit is granted it still takes some time to register with the authorities at the local level, also banking takes a few weeks to get access to, so take that into consideration in your planning and budgeting."
Geyser Batteries is aiming to start its pilot manufacturing line by the end of 2019, creating jobs for about 30 people. The line will be used to produce batteries for the transportation and heavy equipment sector. It will also enable the production of relatively large-scale prototypes and pilots for the energy grid sector.
"Vaasa's ecosystem offers access to the network of professionals, industry partners and investors, including business angels that are focusing on the energy sector. The big companies are developing new products here and therefore often integrate startups into their ecosystems. The infrastructure for freight logistics is also good," says Shigaev.
"On the personal side, Vaasa has turned out to be a hidden gem – the people are really nice, the nature is beautiful, and the town is surprisingly lively. We selected the location for business reasons but I have found that it is also very good for life. We appreciate that Business Finland has put a lot of faith in us via the Startup Permit, and we strive to deliver on that here in Vaasa."
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Photo credit (person picture): Ilya Nodia