How Helsinki is leading the XR and VR Revolution

Dive into the vibrant world of Helsinki, the north star of Europe’s XR and VR revolution. With visionary initiatives and strategic priorities, Helsinki’s XR ecosystem stands at the forefront of the immersive future, shaping the next mega-trend in technology and forging a path to XR and VR excellence.

4 min read

Carmen Nguyen

Interested in becoming a 90 Day Finn?

Get more insights about the programme.

Immersive Helsinki: Leading Europe’s XR and VR Revolution

In our vibrant city of Helsinki, a technological revolution is underway.

Extended Reality (XR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are redefining how we perceive and interact with the digital realm. Estimated to be worth $800 billion by 2030, the Metaverse is being hailed as the next mega-trend in the world of technology, and Helsinki stands at the forefront of this transformative wave.

In this article, we delve into:

  • Helsinki’s journey towards becoming a global XR and VR powerhouse.
  • The pioneering projects and strategic initiatives driving this digital revolution

Helsinki XR Center: The catalyst of the VR Ecosystem

The AR & VR market is experiencing exponential growth, with revenue in Finland projected to reach €82.11 million in 2023. It is expected to continue this upward trajectory, showing an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 14.23%, reaching a projected market volume of €139.80 million by 2027.

The largest market segment in Finland is AR Software, accounting for a market volume of €27.92 million in 2023. Although the United States generates the most revenue with a projected market volume of €8,048.00 million in 2023, Helsinki’s XR and VR ecosystem is rapidly becoming a global force. With European VR and AR market growth expected to outpace North America by 2023.

At the heart of Helsinki’s XR and VR revolution lies the Helsinki XR Center (HXRC). This unique institution acts as a developer hub, providing startups and projects in extended reality with free facilities, mentorship, and support.

Supported by industry associations, government agencies, municipalities, and educational institutions, the HXRC serves as a catalyst for the city’s booming VR ecosystem. Entrepreneurs and experts from all over the world converge at HXRC, driving innovation and collaboration in XR and VR technologies.

VR in the built environment: Bridging reality and imagination

The construction industry has embraced VR, using it extensively from planning to fabrication. Architects and designers leverage VR in the Building Information Modeling process, allowing comprehensive visualisation of structures before they are built. One notable example is Virtual Helsinki, a digital replica of the city created by Finnish company Zoan.

This virtual city serves myriad purposes, from tourism and urban planning to public meetings and business development. Helsinki’s forward-thinking approach to VR in the built environment showcases its commitment to leveraging technology for smarter urban living.

The 90 Day Finn Programme: Cultivating XR and VR expertise

The 90 Day Finn Programme invites international investors, entrepreneurs, and tech industry executives to experience Helsinki for 90 days.

In recent years, this initiative has seen an influx of XR and VR experts, drawn by Helsinki’s booming VR ecosystem and cutting-edge research. Participants from various countries have arrived to learn about Finnish society, exchange knowledge, and explore business opportunities. This multicultural exchange fosters innovation and growth in the XR and VR sectors, solidifying Helsinki’s reputation as a global hub for immersive technologies.

VR is useful for the construction industry, from planning to fabrication. Architects and designers can use it when planning buildings as part of the Building Information modelling process.

Damon Hernandez, Founder & Executive Director of AEC Hackathon

Damon Hernandez, an expert in the field of immersive technology from the US, visited the HXRC as part of the 90 Day Finn Programme. One of his passions is extended reality technologies in the built environment. “I’m interested in where the real world meets the digital world. Finland does this well,” Hernandez explains. 

While some of the 90 Day Finns are new to Finland, Hernandez is an old friend of the country. He first came to Helsinki in 2015, since then he has twice attended the famous startup and tech conference Slush, has been actively involved in the construction community, and has given keynote addresses at multiple events. 

“VR is useful for the construction industry, from planning to fabrication. Architects and designers can use it when planning buildings as part of the Building Information modelling process,” Hernandez says. “You can also go beyond buildings and create whole 3D models online, building a digital mirror of the real world in a browser.” 

Finnish XR Companies: Leading innovation on a global scale

Helsinki boasts a vibrant community of XR companies that have made a mark on the global stage. Varjo Technologies leads the way with its high-end XR headsets designed for enterprise use. Optofidelity offers innovative XR testing solutions, while Dispelix pioneers augmented reality waveguide technologies. Mekiwi, on the other hand, captivates VR enthusiasts with its popular Cave Digger VR game available across multiple platforms.

These Finnish XR companies epitomise Helsinki’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of immersive technologies.

Helsinki’s Strategic Priorities for XR and VR

With XR and VR slated to be the next major computing platform, Helsinki is actively positioning itself as a European hub for XR development.

The city’s strong focus on innovation, coupled with substantial investments in research and development, creates an enabling environment for XR and VR companies to thrive. The XR ecosystem is further bolstered by collaborations with global tech giants, the utilisation of 5G technology, and an emphasis on user privacy and data security.

As Helsinki’s XR and VR capabilities grow, the city sets its sights on exporting its expertise to the global market.

Helsinki: Forging a Path to XR and VR Excellence

In the heart of Europe, Helsinki is forging a path towards XR and VR excellence. As the AR & VR market continues to grow exponentially, the city’s visionary initiatives and strategic priorities are reshaping the future of immersive technologies.

The Helsinki XR Center serves as a beacon, nurturing innovation and collaboration among startups and industry leaders alike. With visionary companies leading the charge and strategic initiatives propelling progress, Helsinki stands tall as Europe’s XR and VR dark horse, a city shaping the future of immersive technologies in the digital world.

Learn more about the 90 Day Finn Program

Experience the Helsinki business ecosystem like a local. Immerse yourself in the world’s happiest country and experience a unique blend of professional growth and personal fulfilment. 

Woman laughing at a networking event
Maija Astikainen

Contact Helsinki Partners

If you are interested in learning more about Helsinki and its possibilities – please contact us via the form here. We’ll make sure to get back to you within a few working days.

Juhana Hurtig