Oulu, Finland: Top Startup Destination
In 2012, Fortune named Oulu, Finland one of the ‘7 Best New Global Cities for Startups.’ This area currently develops more “innovations per capita” in Finland than any other region and holds 25% of the country’s risk financing, despite the fact that it only houses about 5% of the total population.
Popularized as the site of Nokia, Oulu was an ICT hub in until about 2006 with when Nokia closed. In recent years the region has suffered from high unemployment and shrinking ICT and creative sectors. However, at the end of 2011, the city was reborn as a technical hotspot.
A variety of factors contributed to this resurrection, for example the University of Oulu and University of Applied Sciences, creating a thriving “startup ecosystem.”
Ville Heikkinen, part of a seed investment company called Butterfly Ventures, notes the high number of students who are interested in entrepreneurship in the area.
The Mayor of Oulu, Matti Pennanen says, “I believe that the young generation wants to create their businesses actively themselves and we as a city want to support creating more jobs to the region.” The city also funds local startups through a development fund, providing from 10,000 to 100,000 Euros to budding companies.
Pennanen highlights the great potential of this city as a continued ICT Startup spot. “With the long roots in high-tech, it seems that the biggest asset for Oulu now is the cooperation between these experienced people alongside with young passionate business people – so that the talent and the knowledge connects with entrepreneurial skills. There’s a huge potential in the region as all our interviewees said – and we’re excited to see what happens next.”
Source: Maija Kopola, ArcticStartup Ltd.