Why Helsinki is the next destination for sustainable investment from Singapore

Since 2017, Singaporean organisations and Helsinki Partners have been collaborating to promote the two-way flow of ideas and capital around smart and sustainable cities. Helsinki Partners recently introduced Helsinki’s Mayor and Chief Economist to our network in Singapore, organising visits and events to highlight the country’s smart-city excellence.

Helsinki Partners

Clean, green, high-tech, safe, organised, and with a world-renowned education system for some 5.6 million citizens. All these attributes accurately describe our home country of Finland, but they apply just as well to another country we love too: Singapore. 

Despite the obvious differences between Finland and Singapore – in geography, climate, culture and more – we believe the similarities between the two countries give us a lot to build on in terms of sustainable business opportunities.

Since launching its Smart Nation Singapore initiative in 2017, the Southeast Asian city state has leapt ahead in enterprise-driven smart-building initiatives. In early 2019, office-technology provider Condeco published the results of a survey that placed Singapore at the forefront of this field. The city boasts some of the world’s most striking examples of sustainably-designed buildings.

Helsinki also consistently places towards the top in rankings such as the Global Smart City Index, while Finland has been put at #1 in the 2022 European Commission’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The country has long been known for technology leadership, and most recently also for using biochemistry techniques to develop sustainable food solutions.

Against this background, representatives from Helsinki Partners recently took the Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartianen and the city’s Chief Economist Mikko Kiesiläinen – who were in Singapore for the World Cities Summit – to meet some of our long-time partners, such as Housing Development Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority, there. The initiative was aimed at strengthening ties between Singapore and Helsinki, and highlighting the potential that the relationship brings for collaboration and business in the areas of smart-city innovations and sustainability.

“This trip was about sharing information on current and rising opportunities in Finland’s capital,” says Johanna Huurre, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Helsinki Partners. “By introducing decision makers from Helsinki to key investors, companies and government agencies in Singapore, we aim to strengthen the ties between our two cities.”

Urbanisation drives prosperity and sustainable investment in Helsinki

The delegation’s visit to Singapore is part of a broader effort by Helsinki Partners to highlight opportunities for sustainable investment and partnerships with stakeholders in Finland’s capital, as well as to encourage entrepreneurs from Asia to explore the local business ecosystem.

“Urbanisation creates the necessary prosperity for investing, and thus cities are well equipped to solve climate and energy issues,” said Mayor Vartianen. “Helsinki is committed to becoming a pioneer in sustainability, so we’ve decided to reach two big climate goals ahead of schedule: to close the city’s coal power plants in 2024, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Helsinki seeks to join forces with Singaporean companies so we can together develop the next solutions for sustainable, happy and prosperous cities.”

Social sustainability and residents’ wellbeing play a central role in modern city planning in Finland – a country ranked #1 in reaching sustainable development goals. For five years in a row Finland has come out top in the World Happiness Report, with Finnish values towards trust and well-being seen as key to the #1 ranking. Helsinki has also been nominated as the happiest city in the world, while Finland as a whole consistently ranks as one of the world’s top countries for stability, safety and freedom (see a longer list of rankings here.)

Helsinki seeks to join forces with Singaporean companies so we can together develop the next solutions for sustainable, happy and prosperous cities.

Juhana Vartiainen, Mayor of Helsinki

Singaporeans invited to join one of the world’s best business environments

Helsinki has repeatedly been recognized as having one of the world’s leading startup ecosystems, with founders benefitting from tight networks, strong support from the city, and plenty of local options for financing. A host of incentives and benefits have attracted foreign entrepreneurs to set up in the city, where people enjoy a work-life balance second to none.

Helsinki Partners has recently established a new programme – Founders to Finland – aimed specifically at founders and investors from Asia. The programme provides fast-track services for relocation to Finland, as well as help in expanding businesses into the rest of the European Union.

The new initiative builds on the success of the 90 Day Finn programme – also designed and run by Helsinki Partners – which invites 15 international investors, entrepreneurs and corporate professionals to try out life in Finland for 90 days. Helsinki Partners helps the participants find connections in the city and explore opportunities in their respective fields. “We had an investor from Singapore in our inaugural 90 Day Finn group last year and it generated a lot of business ideas and connections,” Huurre told CNA938 in a recent interview. “There’s also a Singaporean participant in the 2022 programme, so we’re hoping to continue building on the relationship between Helsinki and Singapore. We believe there’s a lot more we can do together.”

Apply to become one of the Founders to Finland!

Establish your business in Helsinki to access the EU market, join an innovative tech ecosystem in a value-driven society, and enjoy a famously excellent work-life balance. Experience business and life in the capital of the world’s happiest country.

© Jussi Hellsten
Juhana Hurtig

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