Here's How Helsinki Gets 10% Of All The Startup Exits In The World

Here's How Helsinki Gets 10% Of All The Startup Exits In The World 300 600 C-Suite Network


Banner as attendees enter the 17,000 strong stadium for Slush

Finland is home to more than 5.4 million people spread over across +338,424 kilometres (Finland is the sparsest populated country in the EU), and yet it boasts over 10% of the world’s startup exits. Finland’s scarcity of resources and changes in the telecom infrastructure has led to a serious body of tech-heads and talent which is now leading the next generation of talent. Previously only having a relatively minor tech presence (but a big tech ‘scene’), the region has exploded over the last decade since the early days of Nokia to produce a vibrant community form with big names from Rovio, Supercell, Seriously, Framery and King to name but a few.

Many don’t realise that in the last five years, Finland has seen at least one billion-dollar exit per year. “Finnish start-ups are tending to be bought before they can list” according to Markus Suomi, CEO of Finnish trade, investment agency Finpro. That’s no accident. With over 500 startups in Helsinki alone, Finland’s capital has become a Mecca for gaming startups ($2.4bn revenue in 2015) but is also growing other areas in clean tech, fin-tech, ITC and food services (like Epic Foods) as investor attention floods in. Slush – the now multi-territory startup mega-fest – has been a big part of this success but there’s more than simple organisation behind Finland’s and Helsinki’s startup prowess. The success stems back to the early 2000’s when there was a huge demo scene that attracted +13,000 people to ice hockey rinks to see experimental tech nerds and artists showcase their ideas. When you talk to startups in Helsinki, it’s clear the Founders were inspired by history as much as a passion for creating a different future.

From chatting with government officials, startup leaders, educators and residents; it is clear that Finland made startups a priority and is now laser focused on the youth to drive the future. From the ice-cold Oulu-based Polar Bear Pitching process (imaging pitching investors neck-deep in ice-cold water) to Lasse Männisto’s parliamentary startup group, the…