The current wave of entrepreneurial activities in Northern Europe would not be so powerful, if it wasn’t for incidents that took place in the heart of Espoo Innovation Garden—on the Otaniemi campus. Let’s do a quick overview of what happened:
In 2009 a few students of Aalto University started an Entrepreneurship Society—Aalto ES—to organize startup activities in Silicon Valley style*. Soon the incubation and acceleration programmes Summer of Startups and Startup Sauna were born. In 2011 Professor Steve Blank from Stanford visited Finland and pushed the ecosystem to a whole new level.
In 2012 Slush—the largest startup event in Northern Europe—became a separate entity from Aalto ES, and what a great success Slush is! In 2014 the global Impact and Education tracks were launched at Slush, and in 2015 it organised the world’s (geographically) largest accelerator programme: Slush Global Impact Accelerator.
Among the top rising stars
No wonder that the Espoo Innovation Garden entrepreneurial ecosystem is ranked among the Top 5 rising stars in MIT’s global research covering over 200 university-based entrepreneurial ecosystems.
[*The Silicon Valley styles of “paying forward” and “working together” are actually remakes of the old Finnish traditions of Talkoot and Yhteistyö.]
Instead of creating only a few diamonds, Espoo is set out to do something far more meaningful. It has read its research and understood that new jobs are only created in companies younger than five years. It has understood that the foundation for tomorrow needs to be built on an entrepreneurial attitude.
That is why entrepreneurship in Espoo is a component in the education in primary schools. As well as in secondary schools and tertiary education. Entrepreneurship is omnipresent in Espoo, and not just in education but in practice too.
If you want to find all the labs, incubators, accelerators that lead to entrepreneurial activities in Espoo you must seek everywhere. There are startups born amongst elderly in libraries or formed by secondary students form as a part of their studies.
To summarize: Espoo is entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship is Espoo.