The first decade of the 21st century had seen the rise and fall of Nokia â€“ the Finnish beloved mobile giant which accounted for 4% of the national GDP in 2000, as per the Economist. The significant dominance of Nokia undoubtedly nominates itself as the sole representative of Finland in global business network.
However, things changed when the mobile industry became increasingly competitive. Finnish business ecosystem welcomed a boost in number of unicorns in the post-Nokia era. These fresh Northern business lights shook the world, particularly in videos-game industry with Angry Birds by Rovio and Clash of Clans by SuperCell. Additionally, a soar in the number of either young entrepreneurs or accelerator programs along with huge support from government and institutions has fundamentally contributed to Finnish startup hothouse.
First and foremost, the government plays an essential role in building such a sophisticated ecosystem. Reckoning that funding is a key factor which leads startup ideas to fruition, Finnish government established a Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation named TEKES.
Many companies say they wouldnâ€™t exist without our funding. We have doubled our funding for startups in the last five years to some 130 million euros yearly,
says Mrs. Marjo Ilmari, director of the startup program at TEKES. Interestingly, both Rovio and SuperCell are funded at the initial stage. More astonishingly, startup teams are able to apply for funding regardless of nationalities. Another venture-capital fund named Finnvera provides young startup with financing as well as domestic and export credit guarantees. These illustrate increasing efforts of the Finns in creating an entrepreneur-friendly environment.
Participation of accelerator programs is also praised in the core of the new entrepreneurial ecosystem. These programs, which are funded by either the government or private enterprises, identify promising startup ideas and equip them with advice and support from entrepreneurs, angel investors and industry experts. Specifically, participants are kitted out with pragmatically useful strategy to address their potential business plans.
These accelerator programs have seen steady growth in the number of participants. Startup Sauna, which was born in 2010, kicked off early this year by a coaching-event tour in 21 cities around Nordic, Russia and Eastern Europe regions. In each city, startup teams get to pitch and receive feedback from coaches. The most prospective teams are eligible to experience in a prestigious program where they are provided deep focus on business development and especially have an ideal opportunity to broaden their network with investors and entrepreneurs. Across regions, entrepreneurship passion could also be found in Kotka â€“ a stunning city by the sea in the south of Finland â€“ with *ship – The Startup Festival. This event features not only chances for young startups to connect with mentors worldwide, but also a pitching contest with the â‚¬5000 prize for the most top-notch team.
The Finns have surprised the world by escaping from the great dependence on Nokia as well as establishing and developing a promisingly integral entrepreneurship ecosystem. As startup enthusiasm is increasingly widespread, more and more â€œAngry birdsâ€ are expected to fly above the land of Santa Claus.