Investors find Helsinki as the city of opportunity 

The 90 Day Finn programme gives people the chance to learn about the city’s thriving startup ecosystem – and maybe experience the exotic Finnish sauna culture, too. 

Marek Sabogal
Jussi Hellsten

You can find unicorns in fantasy novels, or you might find them in Helsinki. Recent Finnish unicorns – meaning a growth company valued at €1 billion or more – include firms in mobile phone hardware, gaming, food delivery, healthtech and big data. Pia Erkinheimo wonders who could be the first Finnish cleantech unicorn. 

“Finland has some great digital climate technology companies which specialise in things like data analytics and machine learning,” she says. “But we also have fantastic companies with physical green solutions. These include food tech, hydrogen, plastics and carbon sequestering.” 

Erkinheimo is the director of customer and dealflow at The Finnish Climate Fund. Climate Fund is a state-owned company which invests in companies to combat climate change. They typically invest as a partner with other public and private funds.  

Build a lifetime network in 90 days 

Investors around the world have found a good method to do their unicorn hunting: the 90 Day Finn programme. Designed and run by Helsinki Partners, 90 Day Finn brings people from all over the world to live and find opportunities in Helsinki for three full months.  

Steve Havas will come to Helsinki in the summer of 2022 to take part in the programme. Based in Seattle, Havas was until recently CEO of Evernym, a global leader in digital identity. 

“Companies often are nimble and flexible while getting started,” he says. “But then when they start to grow they lose those advantages. My goal is to help developing companies take advantage of decentralised business models to scale globally, while retaining those small company advantages.” 

Investors get free, bespoke services 

Helsinki Partners offers free, personalised services for investors like Havas. They will provide a curated list of potential contacts based on an investor’s criteria. When Havas arrives in Helsinki to become a 90 Day Finn he will find Helsinki Partners business advisors ready to help him succeed. 

“Finnish values in business and relationships appear similar to how I look at life,” Havas says. “The 90 Day Finn programme gives me the opportunity to rapidly engage with many companies in a short period of time and establish relationships with one or more companies as an investor or advisor before leaving this fall.” 

Helsinki already has tight connections with the tech and investor scene on the US West Coast, so Havas should feel right at home. Erkinheimo points out that Helsinki is a cosmopolitan town. 

“Our growth ecosystem is very global,” she explains. “Everyone speaks English and companies go international immediately because we have such a small market.” 

Laugh in a sauna 

But Helsinki has other things to offer besides investing. Shwetank Verma, co-founder & partner at Leo Capital, has something special on his to-do list. 

“Go to the sauna!” he laughs. 

Verma is a venture capitalist based in Singapore who is also taking part in the 90 Day Finn programme. He and his wife will be coming to Helsinki in the summer of 2022. 

“I wanted to come to Helsinki for three reasons,” Verma says. “One, for the cutting-edge technology and startups. Two, because Finland is the happiest place on Earth and I want to understand why. And three, the sauna. A sauna meeting is on my bucket list!” 

The 2022 World Happiness Report has ranked Finland the happiest country for the fifth time in a row. The high quality of life, lack of corruption and well-functioning society are strong contributors to why people in Finland are so happy. When the 90 Day Finns come to Helsinki they will have plenty of business opportunities, but also many fun and enlightening things to do outside the office. 

“My goals are to immerse myself in the startup ecosystem and Finnish culture. In particular I’m interested in healthtech and circular economy companies,” says Verma.  

Open doors 

As an investor in sustainable solutions, Erkinheimo is delighted in Verma’s interest in circular economy businesses. She says the Finnish capital has even more things to offer investors like him. Finns are highly educated and very approachable, no matter what their position in society. 

“Investors can find many opportunities in Helsinki,” she says. “People in Finland have great competencies in engineering, basic science and digitalisation. We don’t have much hierarchy, so you can reach anyone you want.” 

Helsinki Partners can provide a curated list of potential investment opportunities and open doors for investors to companies all over Finland – completely free of charge. If you are interested in learning more about the Helsinki Partners services for investors, contact us!

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