Five from Finland
Finnish cities capturing the spotlight
Numerous Finnish cities and tourist destinations have captured the world's attention with their business opportunities, technological advancements and sustainable living practices.Julia Helminen
These five Finnish cities and tourist destinations have been capturing attention on the international stage during the past year, showcasing the country’s commitment to progress and sustainability.
From burgeoning startup ecosystems to groundbreaking technological advancements and innovative green initiatives, discover some of the noteworthy developments that have put Finnish urban centres and tourist destinations in the spotlight.
Helsinki has emerged as one of the hottest startup hubs in Europe, igniting innovation and fostering a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit.City of Helsinki
With a recent surge in new startups and funding activities, the Finnish capital was listed in the 11th position in EU-Startups’ ranking of Europe's top startup hubs last year. According to the website, Helsinki has gained recognition as a frontrunner in the gaming industry, as well as health and cleantech sectors.
The annual Slush conference, one of the world’s leading startup and tech events, has further cemented the city’s reputation by drawing international innovators, investors and media attention, and providing excellent networking opportunities.
To compile the ranking, EU-Startups assessed altogether 150 European cities based initially on website traffic, and conducted a subsequent analysis of the number of startups founded in each city in the past three years and their recent funding activity.
The textile deposit pilot introduced by the City of Lahti has proven that a small incentive can get residents to sort and recycle old textiles more actively.City of Lahti
Previously crowned the European Green Capital and recognised as one of five forward-thinking European cities, Lahti once again demonstrated its commitment to green initiatives by launching last year a groundbreaking pilot to address the environmental impact of discarded textiles.
With a deposit system for textile recycling introduced by the city, local residents can bring their textile waste to a pop-up collection point and receive a voucher that can be used at a café or outdoor pool. The collected textiles will be processed into recycled fibre, which in turn will be utilised in the production of various new products.
“Our future depends on a circular economy, but it can’t just be the consumers’ responsibility to take care of recycling,” said Kimmo Rinne, development manager at Salpakierto, a municipal company that handles waste management in the Lahti region. “With this pilot we want to ask what countries, cities and companies can do to help make recycling easier and more attractive to people. Deposits have worked well before, maybe there could be one for textiles in the future.”
Jyväskylä has been home to TGR-WRT for the past eight years and by building a new development centre the Japanese brand aims to be “a good neighbour to the local community”.City of Jyväskylä
The central Finnish city of Jyväskylä, which once again hosted the renowned Secto Rally Finland last August, announced a collaboration with Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (TGR-WRT) and Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF) to foster “a carbon-neutral, sustainable and diversified society” through community development.
The parties signed a letter of intent and are planning to establish a new environmentally friendly development centre in Jyväskylä that will not only play a central role in carrying out TGR-WRT’s activities, but also serve as a base for developing “ever better cars” in Europe with a special focus on decarbonisation and emissions reduction initiatives.
“This is a great day for our growing city,” commented Mayor Timo Koivisto. “For Jyväskylä this partnership opens up new opportunities where the pursuit of sustainable development, a carbon-neutral future and data-driven mobility is concerned.”
Tampere seeks to become a global frontrunner in metaverse development by 2040.Jonne Renval
Known for its industrial history and vibrant startup scene, the southwestern Finnish city unveiled its bold and forward-thinking strategy, Tampere Metaverse Vision 2040, during the Tampere Smart City Expo & Conference held last June. Prepared in collaboration with the London-based The Metaverse Institute and described as “the world’s first people-centred metaverse strategy”, it envisions Tampere as a pioneering hub for metaverse technologies and experiences by 2040.
The city aims to harness the potential of metaverse technologies to enhance various aspects of urban life, from education and healthcare to entertainment and business. Moreover, the vision outlines that citizens will have increased opportunities for influencing decision-making processes.
“[The] metaverse intertwines numerous themes and concepts that are already being pursued and those on the horizon, such as data utilisation, digital twins, virtual realities, and artificial intelligence,” explained Tiia Joki, development manager at the City of Tampere. “Hence, the concept is now prominently emerging. For us, the metaverse is not merely a virtual realm, but a continually evolving digital environment seamlessly integrated into the real city.”
Finland’s Ulko-Tammio is a to-go destination for those who want to ditch their smartphones and enjoy the moment.Annika Ruohonen
Okay, so this technically isn't a city – but it's definitely worth a mention! Located some 30 kilometres off the town of Hamina and described as “the jewel of the Eastern Gulf of Finland”, the island of Ulko-Tammio set itself a goal to become the world’s first phone-free tourist destination last summer. The island aimed to urge holidaymakers to switch off their smart devices and fully enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.
According to travel and medical professionals, the “digital detox” initiative is beneficial in many ways. For example, it can help people to focus on genuine experiences, boost mood and improve overall wellbeing, as well as help to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
“We encourage visitors to put their phones away voluntarily and to focus their senses on nature rather than on their phones,” explained Joel Heino, manager for outdoor recreation and visitor management at Parks & Wildlife Finland. “This is a great initiative that could be implemented in other nature and recreational destinations, too.”