Helsinki Metropolitan Area
“Our community offers a wide range of top ranking scientific, creative, and commercial capabilities, with a strong focus on spearheading Deep Tech development. The greater Otaniemi area in Espoo is the world's leading epicenter of systemic cross-disciplinary innovation. We believe in accelerating a new breed of innovation to tackle the most significant challenges of our times: the climate crisis, nature loss, and inequality.”
Ranked the happiest country in the world for six years running, Finland — and the Helsinki area in particular — is a great place to live and to build a startup. With a population of just one million, Helsinki is home to an estimated 2,226 startups and scaleups and 155 venture capitalists. Four of the seven Finnish unicorns are headquartered in the capital. Together these companies are worth €24.4 billion. There are ample funding opportunities too. FOV Ventures invests in the metaverse, Butterfly Ventures invests in Deep Tech and hardware startups, and government startup grants offer new entrepreneurs around €740 per month for a year to get their business off the ground. The 2023 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Finland the 11th freest economy in the world.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the City of Espoo, Aalto University, and members of the semiconductor industry plan to collaborate on an RDI hub for microelectronics and quantum technology. The center will expand Espoo's already world-class research infrastructure. The Aalto Startup Center is one of the world’s top university business accelerators. Urban Tech Helsinki supports companies solving the challenges of modern cities. Business Finland launched two programs in 2023: 6G Bridge and Decarbonized Cities. Maria 01 is one of Europe’s top startup campuses, and its member companies raised a record €219 million in 2022. Construction of a new Maria 01 campus is set to begin in 2024. Student-run leading tech conference Slush takes place every November.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
Helsinki hosts 750 Life Sciences companies, two world-class universities, and a huge pool of relevant talent. It is also a hotspot for clinical testing. Meilahti campus works closely with the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Medicine, the Helsinki Institute of Life Science, and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. Healthtech startup Veri raised a €7.5 million Series A in June 2022. Clinical-stage biotech company TILT Biotherapeutics raised €22 million in February 2023.
AI, Big Data & Analytics
The Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence was founded by Aalto University, University of Helsinki, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Launched in April 2022, the Kumpula-based pre-incubator for Deep Tech, AI, and Sustainability focuses on data science, AI, and atmospheric sciences. Participants have the option to continue with the Helsinki Incubator Programme’s Deep Tech, AI, and Sustainability Incubator at the end of the program. Database-as-a-service platform Aiven raised $210 million in May 2022, putting the company's pre-money valuation at $3.04 billion.
Helsinki is at the heart of the Finnish Gaming industry. The ecosystem hosts more than 50 Gaming companies and a rich pool of talent, capital, and infrastructure for development. Clash of Clans maker Supercell and developer Rovio both call Helsinki home. Games studios based in the Helsinki metropolitan area made £2.8 billion in 2022, and in September that year, Netflix announced it is creating an internal game development studio in the Finnish capital. The company also acquired mobile games developer Next Games.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Quality of Life
Nature, sustainability, and excellent quality of life are key draws for Finland. Helsinki aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2030, and in 2023 Finland was named the happiest country in the world for the sixth year in a row in 2023. Finland was also ranked as the second least corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.
Access to Talent
The Global City Talent Competitiveness Index 2022 ranked Helsinki #8 among 175 cities, citing the workforce’s strong technical skills. Finland is known for its world-class educational system. In Espoo, over half of adult residents have a university degree. The city also has the largest innovation community in the Nordics. Helsinki’s 90 Day Finn Programme offers global professionals the chance to experience life in the country for 90 days.
Ease of Doing Business
Finland's corporate tax rate of 20% is among the lowest in the E.U. and the lowest in the Nordics. Businesses conducting R&D receive a permanent basic tax deduction related to existing R&D costs. This is an additional benefit to the existing 150% tax deduction for R&D subcontracting. The government’s resolution on entrepreneurship aims to make the country more entrepreneur friendly and is in effect 2022–2027.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
City of Helsinki
Helsinki is a city for all, a place for good life. It is a smart, safe, and compact city that is known for its combination of urban culture and nature. Helsinki cherishes its open, participatory culture that is a source for its innovative and creative atmosphere. A hotbed for innovation, and an ideal testing ground for bold new ideas, it is the perfect size for startups to test the waters and obtain first references. Helsinki provides a stable and well-functioning business environment that nurtures startups to success and is a modern and attractive location for entrepreneurs.
City of Espoo
Espoo-based startups electrified the creation of a new Finnish innovation culture at the end of the 2000s, when Nokia hit hard times. Today, many of Finland’s most promising Deep Tech startups come from Espoo, and most of Finland’s unicorns were born here. Finland’s key sustainable innovation players and most valuable companies are located in Espoo. Big players like Nokia, Kone, and VTT make Espoo #6 among European cities that applied for most patents in 2020, and Espoo is #8 in Europe in capital invested (2020). The city has repeatedly been recognized by the European Commission for using innovation to improve the lives of citizens.
City of Vantaa
Vantaa is an innovative city of sustainable growth and was elected as the rising innovative city in Europe in 2021. Aviapolis is also a logistics hub and an innovative future airport city, combining residential area, business opportunities, and the airport. To enhance the dialogue between the city, businesses and higher education institutions, Vantaa operates within business ecosystems. The purpose of these Key Business Clusters is to create connections between companies of all sizes, from startups to industry leaders. The aim is to create new business opportunities by sharing knowledge, new ideas, and innovations.
Key Ecosystem Players
News from the Ecosystem
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