Fresh funding for Finnish digital tools
The LUMI supercomputer is the focal point of a project to build a digital twin of Earth, exemplifying the leading digital approach in Finland.Pekka Agarth
Digitalisation is at the core of recent news from Finland, including funding secured for a social intranet tool, online shopping aggregator and cryptographic security solution.
Happeo, a provider of social intranet tools hailing from Helsinki, in July announced it has raised roughly 25.5 million euros in an equity-funding round led by Endeit Capital, Evli Growth Partners and Smartfin. Among the investors participating in the round were also ex-CEO of Nokia Rajeev Suri and CEO of Vincit Mikko Kuitunen.
The startup stated that it would use the funding to invest in building its product and development teams, expanding in North America and retaining its market position in Europe.
“This latest funding enables us to realise our vision of creating a new, better world of work at scale,” commented Perttu Ojansuu, chief executive of Happeo. “We have been improving our platform and this funding means we can take our revolution in the intranet to the next level.”
Happeo describes its communication platform as a “virtual headquarters” that centralises organisational information and knowledge in order to tackle what it calls “information chaos” and ensure employees have all the information they need to execute their jobs, build connections and create a positive communication culture.
Such a platform, it believes, is crucially important because the average number of software-as-a-service tools used by a single company skyrocketed from eight in 2015 to 110 in 2021. McKinsey has estimated that employees today spend almost a fifth of their work week searching for the colleague or information they need to perform their jobs.
The Helsinki-based startup has thus introduced a search tool that enables users to access all internal information with one click and offers companies a place to host all files and documents in context. Its clientele already consists of 350 companies from various industries, including Decathlon, Marqueta and Pinterest.
A shopping cart that knows no boundaries
The startup has developed an online shopping tool that promises to choose vendors with the lowest prices and fastest delivery times and place orders with many different vendors in a single session, with one shopping cart and one payment. The fresh funding will be used to consolidate domestic operations and expand to Europe in 2023.
Pasi Ilola, CEO of Starcart, pointed out that the online shopping experience has largely remained unchanged since the early 2000s despite an explosion in the number of vendors and products sold online.
“Buying online is getting more difficult as now the consumer has to search for products, compare prices and place orders in many different stores. With Starcart, the customer can easily find, buy and order the products they want from many different stores, with one shopping card and one payment,” he summed up.
Espoo-based startup looks to scale up
“I am absolutely confident that we will be the leading provider of secure and high-performance cryptographic intellectual property cores for [field-programmable gate arrays] FPGAs and [application-specific integrated circuits] ASICs,” he declared.
The startup said it decided to seek external funding for the first time at the relatively ripe age of five in order to accelerate its transition from a startup to a scale-up company. Late-seed funding, it argued, is ideal for companies such as itself – companies that have focused on organic growth, are cash-flow positive and remain fully in the ownership of their co-founders.
Synergies between green and digital transformations
Digitalisation is seen not only as means to boost business performance or convenience for consumers, but also as means to mitigate the climate crisis.
The European Commission in June published a report identifying 10 key areas of action with potential synergies between its digital and ecological aspirations. The areas include stepping up green and digital diplomacy, managing the supply of critical materials and commodities, mobilising additional future-proof investment, and advocating for a global approach to standard-setting.
Although digital technologies can help to achieve climate neutrality, reduce pollution and restore biodiversity, their proliferation is also increasing energy consumption and creating more electronic waste, the commission acknowledged.
“To reach climate neutrality by 2050, we need to unleash the power of digitalisation. At the same time, sustainability must be at the heart of the digital transformation,” outlined Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president for inter-institutional relations and foresight at the European Commission.
Key to successfully meshing the two transitions will be energy, transport, industry, construction and agriculture – the five biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.
The European Commission envisioned that next-generation batteries and digital technologies can enable major shifts toward sustainable and multi-modal mobility. In the energy sector, blockchain and satellite data can help the bloc to prevent weather-related disruptions and facilitate cross-border exchanges.
Digital twins that leverage real-time data and machine learning, in turn, can help to lessen the footprint of industrial sectors by improving design, production and maintenance. In construction, modelling has the potential to improve energy and water efficiency, whereas in agriculture quantum computing can create the understanding required to reduce fertiliser and pesticide use.
Finnish supercomputer to elevate climate science
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the European Space Agency and the European Meteorological Satellite Organisation have announced they are gearing up to build a digital twin of the Earth with LUMI, a supercomputer housed in Kajaani, central Finland.
The digital twin is intended to function as an information system and research infrastructure that helps societies to monitor natural phenomena and human activities, deal with weather events and make weather forecasts, according to YLE. The hope is that the simulation will contribute significantly to the EU’s Green Development Agenda.
Sami Niemelä, director of the meteorological and marine research programme at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), told the Finnish public broadcaster that computer simulations are already widely used in climate science, including by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The third most powerful supercomputer in the world, LUMI will be able to tackle research questions that have hitherto proven challenging due to computing power limitations.
“The Earth system models that are used in weather and climate predictions have been continuously developed during the recent decades. Such models [contain a] huge amount of legacy codes with very much relevant science encoded in [them],” said Niemelä. “We need to adapt the models to this new technology in order to meet the new scientific challenges. LUMI allows scientists to access this new technology and to test algorithms on larger scales than ever before.”
Finland intends to be at the forefront of the transition also in other respects.
The Finnish Government outlined its digital compass for 2030 in February, stating that its goal is to build a digitally capable society that is attractive, competitive, sustainable and prosperous. The compass is built on four core points: skills, secure and sustainable digital infrastructures, the digital transformation of businesses, and the digitalisation of public services.
New markets and new owners
Tecnotree, a Finnish provider of digital solutions for communication service providers, in July announced it has launched its digital service provisioning system with Zain South Sudan, representing another step forward in its expansion in Africa in 2022.
The cloud-ready system helps digital and communication service providers to launch new services faster with greater agility and resource efficiency, and to scale up or down rapidly in response to changes in demand.
NL Acoustics, a Helsinki-based developer of acoustics-based predictive maintenance solutions, has passed into the majority ownership of US-based Teledyne Technologies. The company has set out to derive value from sound by utilising acoustic cameras capable of detecting system failures, improving production efficiency and cutting back on costs and energy use.