For its small country, Finland is at the forefront of the world in a disproportionate number of categories; there is the best education system, the best public services and most digital skills. According to the latest United Nations investments, it is also the happiest country in the world.
However, like some of it neighbors in the Nordic countries, Finland hopes to get a new name for its collection: a powerhouse of global technology.
Although the local technology ecosystem is still relatively in its infancy, a number of influential companies have emerged from Finland that are rapidly collecting more than a share of unicorns (companies worth more than $ 1 billion).
TechRadar Pro spoke to several of these companies in Helsinki before the year Slush 2021, and representatives Business Finland, the organization ‘s mission is to support the best and most successful companies in the country.
The consensus among them, perhaps predictably, is that the Finnish technology world is too often overlooked and underestimated. They also say that local businesses benefit from a unique perspective on competition that provides an antidote to some of the cultural problems posed by Silicon Valley’s steep approach.
All for one and one for all
During our short stay in Finland, we heard from technology companies that focus on a wide range of areas, including cloud, OH and enterprise software cryptocurrency, gaming and virtual reality. The maturity of these companies also varied from one-month-old startups to established multinationals.
However, despite the lack of commonalities, almost everyone described the same phenomenon: the increase in community characteristic of the Finnish business environment.
According to Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell Clash of Clans and other popular mobile games), much less attention is paid to winning competitors in Finland, where competing companies often cooperate openly.
“We do not see other Finnish gaming companies as competitors, but as family members,” he said TechRadar Pro and a number of other publications.
“If one company succeeds, it benefits the entire network; the rising tide lifts all the boats, as they say. Success creates success. ”
Oskari Saarenmaa, President and CEO at open source database company Aiven, described a similar experience. “The technology here is very cooperative,” he pointed out. “We don’t compete so much with each other that people can share what they do, learn, and how we can all benefit together.”
There was also a separate talk about a local tradition called “talkoot” where people come together to help their local community without expecting to receive it in return. The concept also seems to extend to the Finnish technology ecosystem.
This atypical approach seems to stem from a combination of national pride (we did not meet a single Finn who would not have wanted to tell us about the quality of local food or sauna) and a common understanding of the disadvantages of local businesses. Finnish companies from an unconventional technology center must fight even harder for recognition on the global stage.
Here’s some kind of paradox in the game; Succeeding in business requires a certain amount of ruthlessness (in addition to a competitive product), but for Finnish companies, crushing competition can be counterproductive. In the face of this problem, Finns have taken the form of “collective competition” that defies practice.
Think big or not at all
Unlike in the United States or other major European countries, Finnish technology companies have no choice but to think big. With a population of only 5.5 million, Finland offers local companies a relatively small swimming pool where they can swim.
For this reason, ambitious technology companies need to embrace internationality from the start. According to Saaremaa, “everyone here is building for a global audience”.
This somehow explains the rise in investment in the country flooded. In 2011, Finnish startups attracted only 102 million euros, but in 2021 this figure will be almost one billion euros, which is the highest funding rate per capita in Europe.
Slush’s chairman Timo Ahopelto says that the number of technical unicorns coming from Finland is also growing dramatically, currently ten (including both Aiven and Supercell). By 2025, he estimates that number will roughly double.
The number of unicorns is not, of course, the ultimate test of the quality of a country’s technology industry, but it is a strong clock. And it also helps with international recognition.
When asked why Finland is starting to produce unicorns at an accelerating pace, Paananen emphasized the high standard of living, the less demanding work culture (his employees rarely work after 5 pm) and the widespread use of English, which he said will attract the next generation. technological know-how to Helsinki.
He suggests that the days of U.S. dominance in the technology sector are numbered; Silicon Valley has produced great innovations, but too much evil, and Finland is ready to offer an alternative model.
“People are talking about the American dream,” he said. “But it’s more true in Finland than in America.”
As Finland continues to invest in the development of its network of startups and technology companies, one of the key questions will be whether the country will be able to remain true to the values that have defined the success stories of this first generation.
According to Business Finland, the “clan” mentality is sewn into local DNA and through it into local companies. But if a country manages to gain international acclaim and establish itself as a powerhouse of technology, it may no longer be possible (or constructive) to maintain this highly organized and cooperative structure.
Whether or not bee In the future, we will switch to a more traditional approach to building an empire, but Finland seems to be approaching a turning point that will almost certainly bring a wave of technological innovation.