Global Study: In Helsinki startups are born global and won't be left to survive alone 

Our geographical location may be a little remote and there’s room for improvement with the weather, too, but Helsinki has long had reason to be proud of its startup field. Global success stories, such as Supercell and Rovio, were created here together with Slush, the largest startup event in Europe, and FiBAN, one of the strongest business angel networks in Europe.

Now we have an official study on the matter too. The cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area participated in the international Global Startup Ecosystem study that compares startups’ opportunities for global success in 55 different urban areas. More than 10,000 startups and 300 partner organisations took part in the study.

Even though Helsinki, smaller than many of its competitors, didn’t make it to the top twenty of the most attractive startup ecosystems in the world, the study shows that Helsinki has clear leading features in international comparison. The featherweight Helsinki is still keeping up with the heavyweights.

Tight-knit community, a target-oriented approach and connections to global markets are Helsinki’s strengths

Being small also has its pros. According to the report, startups in Helsinki felt the least to be competing with corporations (first place). This describes the strength of the community and indicates how different actors understand the significance of co-operation.

Investors don’t only give money to startups but stay on as mentors—the results showed that Helsinki comes in third in the number of advisors with equity. On the other hand, also employees are significant part-owners in the companies: 46% of startups provided stock options to all employees, which took Helsinki to seventh place in the global comparison.

Another strength of the Helsinki startup field was the high level and oriented approach of the manufactured products. Helsinki came fourth in globally leading products and sixth in product global focus. In addition, the composition of the teams also has significant ingredients for business: startups in Helsinki had the sixth largest percentage of biz & tech founders in a team.

All in all, Helsinki did best in the area of global connections. We reached sixth place in both the percentage of foreign customers in own continent and in startups’ relationships to international partners. One reason for the success in this area must be the small size of our internal market, which directs startups to go global.

Development targets are translated into action through a group effort

The report also raised the development targets of the Helsinki startup ecosystem. There is room for improvement and challenges to resolve especially in increasing the value of investments and exits as well as in increasing the number of experienced startup entrepreneurs and so-called ‘unicorns’. Also more foreign startups are needed in Helsinki.

This is why Helsinki Business Hub in co-operation with FiBAN and Arctic Startup invites all actors in the startup field in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area on 27 June 2017 to Startup Maria. The event is a joint think tank of what we can do to solve these development targets and what kinds of signposts are needed. The introduction to the event will be held by the research group of Startup Genome. We will also hear the thoughts of Tekes, FiBAN, venture capital investors and startup representatives on the report’s results.

Further information:

Marja-Liisa Niinikoski
CEO, Helsinki Business Hub
marja-liisa.niinikoski@hbh.fi
+358 40 538 4541

Dane Stangler
Head of Policy, Startup Genome (Global Startup Ecosystem Report)
dane@startupgenome.com

 Link to the Global Startup Ecosystem study: https://startupgenome.com/report2017/