Stockholm Part II

Finland is a home market for many Swedish companies but the potential for sales, R&D co-operation, and tested activities is best unleashed with permanent presence in the Finnish and market. This was a key discussion point during our visit at the Finnish Embassy once we were back in Stockholm following the Innovation Loop Conference in Lycksele.

During the Finland Business Update 2018, we covered mainly foreign direct investment and why it is smart to do business in Finland. Currently there is a decline in traditional greenfield investment in Western Europe with preference in emerging markets as new technology and models allow for greater cross-border expansion.

Investments are important because they drive growth, strengthen the ecosystem, create jobs, and increase exports. Some of the drivers as to where to go is to look at beneficial operational, market, financial, and regulatory elements in a new market.

So why Finland? It is an R&D hotspot with a government supportive of a digital economy. Finland is also known for having the best availability of scientists and engineers and is ranked #1 in global competitiveness. Some of the global giants currently operating in Finland are: Huawei, GE Healthcare, Equinox, and zalando. The largest opportunities are in high tech and services, primarily bioeconomy, cleantech, health, ICT & digitalization, and travel & tourism.

Finland’s economic goals are growth, renewal, and success in doing business with Sweden and other nations. The main takeaway from this talk was to look at similarities in cultures not just at differences, in Scandinavia and throughout business opportunities as cultural aspects, competencies, and goals may very well overlap across borders.

Innovation is a significant aspect of business in Scandinavia whether it is in-house at companies or within the startup environment. We visited Norrsken House, an impact incubator that combines tech, entrepreneurship, and impact. Their goal is to enable an impact unicorn, an organization that helps 1 billion people. This homey shared workplace was designed to make social entrepreneurs rockstars and solve the most pressing problems. Currently, they house 350 members under 120 companies with 75% being impact companies, 15% tech companies, and 10% are made up of intermediaries and investors. The in-house VC fund is 250M SEK with most contributors being from successfully exited Swedish startups.

The facility contained different “parks” to work in such as more traditional dek, couches, or even at the cafe along with meeting and Skype rooms as well as even a meditation room. This reflects the less rigid business structure of Scandinavian business with creative spaces and breeding an environment for collaboration and creativity.

We later visited Einride, a business that came out of the Norrsken Foundation which is now housed at Epicenter, a significantly larger incubator, which also has Spotify and iZettle. Einride is a self-driving truck design to be cost-efficient and emission-free for rethinking transport. You can see that the Scandinavian elements of innovation, sustainability, and impact are all contained within this business concept and it was a special experience to see firsthand how Norskenn’s environment led this company to continue its growth and hopefully continue to grow across borders and make an impact.