In 2017 the Tap2pay team visited Finland twice. And we would like to tell you what business-opportunities this country is ready to open for tech startups.
We flew to Helsinki – a compact capital city on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Our first visit was by the invitation of the Largest European Bank OP bank. Our company Tap2Pay was chosen to participate in the OP Smart Commerce Startup Partnership Program.
The bank covers the travel costs of your team. The Program’s kick-off is a 4-day long Innovation Challenge for selected 15 teams that ends in a Demo day.
The winning startups will be awarded to the Smart Commerce Startup Partnership Program starting in October 2017, where each startup can be granted up to 50 000 EUR.
Periodically, the bank conducts similar programs on various topics. In addition to financial services, the bank is interested in start-ups in such areas as home, health, e-commerce, security, offering participation in similar programs and development investments up to EUR 50 000 equity free. You can see more information on the website.
In our second visit, we participated in the NewCo 10 day startup program in Helsinki. Organizers give the travel grant for your team. It’s about 2 000 EUR.
Before the start of the program, the teams participated in Ultrahack Hackathon, organized by the OP bank. The Tap2Pay team took 1st place in Hakaton and won 7 000 EUR.
After that, during the whole week, the teams met with mentors and visited largest Finnish technology companies: Nokia, IBM, etc.
The topics of the mentoring sessions are customer development, presentation skills, Finnish business culture, investing, open the company in Finland.
If you are looking for investments and are thinking about which country to open a company or a branch of the company, Finland is good for that. You need to take a Finnish citizen on a board of directors or you need have a permanent residence permit in Finland and a Finnish social security number. If your business is really profitable than an entrepreneur can obtain permanent residence based on registered economic activity.
At the same time, there are powerful tools for investing start-ups, a strong network of business angels – FIBAN. Finnish Venture Capital Association. There were more than 253 million euros – one of the highest in Europe invested in Finnish early-stage growth companies.
Business incubators and accelerators work with companies registered in the Finnish centralized register of firms and enterprises.
Accelerators in Finland:
Startup Sauna – without investments, 1-month acceleration,
Nestholma Accelerator – € 10k-150k investments, 3 months acceleration.
Avanto Ventures – € 50k investments, 4-5 weeks acceleration.
Gorilla Ventures – without investments, 24-36 months acceleration
NewCo Helsinki Accelerator – without investments, 6-12 months acceleration
Aaltoes Summer of Startups – 3k-5k grant, 9 weeks.
Companies registered in Finland can apply for funding from the national innovation fund Tekes. So the Tekes organization can invest 50 000 EUR in an early stage technology company registered in Finland. Tekes is the main state-funded financial institution to finance research, development, and innovation in Finland. For a year, it finances around of 1500 companies and about 600 public research projects in universities.
Another source of funding is the Finnvera investment state fund.
The government, banks, large companies – all are interested in cooperation with start-ups. They are open to innovations, to their implementation.
You can ask for help and advice in consulting small and medium-sized businesses.
As you know, Finland hosts a leading European technology event SLUSH. Here, more than 21000 participants – representatives of start-ups, venture funds, banks, corporations. It is so multinational that during one hour you can communicate with people from China, Mexica, Spain, Korea, India, Canada, it’s the very interesting experience.
The ticket costs are about 200 EUR. During the conference, you can participate in the startup pitch competition. The Tap2Pay team won the Reboot Finland competition.
You can also rent a stand to submit your project to the start-up alley, it costs around 850 EUR.
If you have any questions or would like to receive advice on the Finland startup ecosystem, you can always write me firstname.lastname@example.org.