WATCH: Indian startups should look at Greater Helsinki for acceleration: Sandeep Shah, Helsinki Business Hub
Rich in architectural wonders and picturesque views, the Greater Helsinki region in Finland is also a thriving hub for businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from around the world. The Finnish capital’s regional development agency, Helsinki Business Hub (HBH), particularly works towards this cause, helping foreign companies find the right location for their establishment in Helsinki and ensuring that they have access to local businesses and the region’s famous innovation ecosystem.
In India, Helsinki Business Hub works closely with PrEver Consulting, their local touchpoint, to help Indian startups and tech companies scale globally through entry into EU countries. From finding the right investors for these companies to providing them with market intelligence, HBH through a collaboration with PrEver takes care of it all.
But the questions remain on why look at Finland as a business ground, what makes the Greater Helsinki region unique, and what role HBH plays in initiating the acceleration and growth for these companies. YourStory recently had a chat with Sandeep Shah, Senior Business Advisor, Helsinki Business Hub, and Stanny JD, Co-founder and Director of PrEver Consulting, to explore some of these questions and the opportunities in the region.
Key sectors or focus areas
“When you look at Helsinki Business Hub, our focus areas are ICT, smart and cleantech, healthtech, and life sciences. The companies we try to find in India are mostly working in the ICT sector but we also have had some companies from the smart-tech and healthtech side,” Sandeep explains, while outlining the top sectors that the development agency has been focussing on. Stanny adds that there are quite a few from the healthtech and healthcare industry as well.
In Stanny’s words, Finland provides a platform that is conducive for growth and acceleration. “This was something which was solely missing in most of the other ecosystems,” he continues. “We had opportunities to go to Singapore and some of the counties in UK with similar promise. But we saw things were very different on the ground in Finland, specifically in the Helsinki region where it’s a close-knit group and the collaboration is very strong.”
Indian Company's visit to Helsinki region in Espoo city (extreme left is Sandeep Shah and Stanny JD)
“And this is what makes the difference for startups who are on a growth journey and who need a lot of support from the ecosystem… Helsinki Business Hub was the pivot around which all our initiatives revolved,” Stanny adds.
While it has been nearly 10 years since the inception of Helsinki Business Hub, Sandeep explains the association with PrEver happened in 2015. In this duration, the agency has helped more than 25 Indian companies set their base in Finland, driving their global presence over time.
Some of these include Duranc Oy, a Hyderabad, Helsinki, and Nashville (USA) based computer vision deep tech company; Inteliment Technologies, an IT product company with base in Pune, Australia, Singapore, US, and Helsinki; and NCrypted Technologies, an Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and now Helsinki-based software development company that caters to products and services exclusively for start-ups globally.
“We invite the companies and we are the personal guides for these companies,” Sandeep adds. “The region has a lot to offer in terms of the support that is provided, the networks, and the ecosystem. And at the same time it’s important to have a navigator such as Helsinki Business Hub there to help the companies to leverage what the place has to offer.”
Finland and the technical know-how
A majority of Indian ventures that are active in Finland operate in the software or tech sector. A reason behind this, Sandeep says, is because the country has an upper hand when it comes to offering the technical know-how.
“When you look at the application of technology and research for companies, what we provide there is an excellent piloting platform for many of these tech companies,” he says.
While both small and big companies are involved in the process, Sandeep explains that the biggest advantage comes in the form of the association with the cities.
“The cities have many needs and requirements, so they are also involved there, and that provides the opportunity for these companies to go out there and pilot and test their products and at the same time create powerful references for themselves.”