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The pandemic is still time to start up in Finland

Finland has been positioning itself as an attractive startup hub. 

Riikka Vaahtera

The pandemic doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good time to start up in Finland, writes Karen Grigoryan.

A couple of years ago, Finland began positioning itself as a true startup hub. Of course, this Nordic nation has long had a reputation for generating innovative ideas, but now it was also inviting entrepreneurs from outside of the EU to set up shop on its shores.

Startups from countries such as the US, China, India, South Korea and Russia soon established themselves in Finland with the help of a government initiative. The Finnish startup permit gives the holder the possibility to move to Finland, not only with their team but also with their family members.

The premise was simple: enrich the local scene with innovative startup projects and in turn provide a launching pad to bigger and better things. Everybody wins.

And then the pandemic hit. End of story, right?

Not so fast. The pandemic is actually doing little to dent the enthusiasm of startups to relocate to Finland to truly launch themselves into the European market, and beyond. The number of startup permit applications has been increasing, representing industries such as ICT (telecom, health, manufacturing) and new technologies in batteries, heating equipment and vertical farming.

“Startups continue to recognise the benefits of Finland’s small size.”

Some of this can be attributed to lower bureaucratic hurdles. Although a physical visit to a local Finnish missions is eventually needed, the applications can be electronically processed. This has meant that some budding startups have become European companies within a few months during the global lockdown.

Startups continue to recognise the benefits of Finland’s small size: everything is so well connected here, experts know each other, and state and private institutions are well integrated. This brings growth potential in uncertain times.

Speaking of which: startups and growth companies in Finland attracted a record-high amount of venture capital investments in the first half of 2020.

Of course, the current situation means that there is much unknown about what lies ahead. One thing is for certain: Finland remains open for international entrepreneurs who are interested in global expansion.

A range of industries is represented by successful foreign firms starting up in Finland. Image: Samuli Pentti / Slush


Karen Grigoryan
Head of Invest in Finland operations in Russia