International investors eye local prospects

Explore Helsinki’s rising role in global business expansion through the experiences of three international executives in the 90 Day Finn Program. Discover their insights on investing in sustainability, fintech, medtech, and gaming, highlighting Helsinki’s unique business opportunities and innovative environment.

3 min read

Carmen Nguyen

Global business expansion: Helsinki’s rising appeal

Helsinki is emerging as a focal point for international investors, particularly in the realms of sustainability, fintech, medtech, and the video game industry. This surge in interest is epitomised by the journey of three business executives participating in the 90 Day Finn Program, each with a unique vision for business expansion and a keen eye for Helsinki’s burgeoning market opportunities.

Sophie Winwood: A Journey in Sustainable Investing

Sophie Winwood, 90 Day Finn 2021 participant and Investment Principal at Anthemis Group, smiles toward the camera whilst leaning against a wall on an autumnal Helsinki city street.
© Peter Forsgard

Driving Fintech and sustainability through international investment

Sophie Winwood, a UK-based investment principal at Anthemis, specialises in fintech and insurtech startups. With a portfolio spanning across the US and Europe, Anthemis is now exploring opportunities in the Nordic region, particularly Finland. Sophie, attracted by Helsinki’s innovation in sustainability and smart city solutions, shares her insights:

If you want to make investments in Nordic countries, then you need to be here. Ways of working are different and the culture of trust is very important.”

Sophie Winwood, 90 Day Finn 2021 & Investment Principal

There is a strong sustainability component to the Anthemis portfolio, and Sophie sees potential investment opportunities in Finnish startups doing carbon-tracking work. She’s interested in companies involved in smart city and urban planning applications too. Sophie also has a very personal reason for wanting to swap the hectic backdrop of London for a more laid-back lifestyle in Helsinki. In the spring of 2018, she was involved in a bicycle accident and sustained a serious head injury. Her symptoms of post-concussion syndrome persist to this day.

I had to take three months off work as I couldn’t even look at a screen without becoming exhausted. I had to slow down and be very careful with everything. This is difficult in London, where the pace is really fast. I realised that things like being in nature are helpful on the path to getting better.

Sophie Winwood, Investment Principal

Sophie’s personal connection to Helsinki, fueled by her recovery journey from a serious injury, also resonates with her professional goals. Her interest in Helsinki’s lifestyle harmonizes with her business objectives, offering a refreshing perspective on business expansion.

Alli Óttarsson: Boosting the Video Game Sector

Alli Ottarsson - 90 Day Finn participant, stands smilling at camera, with part of the Stockmann building and pedestrian areas of Helsinki in the background.
© Peter Forsgard

Elevating Helsinki’s status as the gaming industry’s hub

Alli Óttarsson has come to Finland looking for investment opportunities in the video games industry. The Iceland-born resident of Los Angeles works for a global venture capital company called Makers Fund. It invests in video game studios and other interactive entertainment companies.

Helsinki is the undisputed mobile games capital of the world. It’s getting challenged these days, but Finland remains a vast video game hub with a thriving ecosystem and lots of investment opportunities.

Alli Óttarsson, 90 Day Finn 2021 & Investment Principal at Makers Fund

Helsinki is the undisputed mobile games capital of the world. It’s getting challenged these days by Tel Aviv and Istanbul, but Finland remains a vast video game hub with a thriving ecosystem and lots of investment opportunities.

Alli Óttarsson – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Investment Principal at Makers Fund

Makers Fund already has investments in four Finnish gaming companies: Redhill Games, Lightheart, Superplus and Savage Game Studios. With Helsinki as a temporary base, Alli also wants to get to know game developers in Tallinn, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Fernando Ferrer: Big Data and Beyond

Fernando Ferrer - 90 Day Finn participant, leans against a wall smiling at camera, the quiet Helsinki city streets behind him.
© Peter Forsgard

Exploring New Frontiers in Data Management and Tech Innovation

Fernando Ferrer, a seasoned entrepreneur and data expert, brings a wealth of experience in health, finance, and advertising tech. Since selling his healthcare data company in 2016, he has worked as a consultant, business mentor and angel investor. Fernando works 100% remotely and is in Finland with his wife and two young children. Over the past few years, the family has also spent time in Canada, Estonia, Spain and the United States.

His remote working lifestyle brought him to Helsinki, where he sees potential for new ventures and advises international funds keen on investing in Finland:

One of the venture capital funds I advise in San Francisco wants to start investing in Finland. I hope to meet some great founders and learn more about the local scene. Maybe I will also get some ideas on starting a new company of my own here

Fernando Ferrer, 90 Day Finn 2021, data expert and serial entrepreneur

Fernando is deeply connected with the tech ecosystem in Toronto, the city his family moved to upon leaving Venezuela some decades ago. While attending Ontario’s Queen’s University, he developed a licensing system for clinical research. This knowledge formed the basis for a big pharma and medtech business intelligence company he founded with four partners in 2013. Today, Fernando focuses on data management for three sectors of tech: health, finance and advertising.

Fernando’s passion for technology startups and his commitment to technological democratization make him a key player in Helsinki’s international expansion narrative.

Helsinki: A convergence point for global business executives

Helsinki’s dynamic business environment is attracting a diverse range of business executives, each with a unique vision and expertise. This convergence of international talent and local innovation is setting the stage for Helsinki to become a key player in the global innovation ecosystem, particularly in technology, sustainability, and the creative industries. The stories of Sophie, Alli, and Fernando underscore the city’s potential as a hub for international business expansion, making it an attractive destination for forward-thinking business executives worldwide.

About 90 Day Finn programme

90 Day Finn programme was designed to provide the opportunity to international investors, founders, corporate executives, event organisers and tech talents to live and find opportunities in Finland for three full months. As part of the programme, we provide support for the 90-day relocation, tailored services based on your business needs and guidance for obtaining long-term residency.

Man with his arms up in peaceful embrace of the falling rain deep in the Finnish woods
@Maija Astikainen

Contact Helsinki Partners

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Juhana Hurtig