Couple of years ago, I was invited for an interview with the general manager of GE Finland, Didier Deltort. Not quite knowing what to expect, I showed up and did an interview which basically resulted in a simple message: we want to do something with startups, but we do not know what but we want to open up our doors and let them in.

Yapp, they had no real clue what they wanted to build and that was the beauty of it. They simply had floorspace and wanted to use it. Deltort and Mikko Kauppinen, who now heads the Health Innovation Village, were open to the idea that all they have to do is to be open to startups and you know what – it worked.

It was an absolute blast to see them become more and more involved with startups every year. First year – it was just office space. No name, no structure. In fact, we even talked to them about running the space for them or starting our own co-working space there. If memory serves me right – they talked to other potential partners. However in the end, Kauppinen and decided to run the space all on their own and it was a beautiful move.

They launched the Health Innovation Village, attracted a lot of startups. Gave them access to GE, people, investors. Through that, they were able to invite the top healthcare VC’s to Finland, who made the trip from the US. Every year, they worked with more and more companies, involved more and more startups. They built it from the bottom up and did not immediately throw a lot of money and resources at it, which does not really attract startups.

As we are about to hit Slush, I write this story from a full room of over 100 people, where Finpro & GE are about to make the big announcement that Finpro, partnered up with Startup Health – a global health innovation company with a large portfolio of digital health companies, I feel proud that I had the chance to participate in the process, give advice, cover the stories.

Through that agreement, Startup Health Finland program will locate themselves in the Health Innovation Village at GE and will select five Finnish health tech startups to invite into the StartUp Health Academy. The companies will receive coaching, market access to US healthcare stakeholders, access to investors and much more. To lead the program, they have hired Aki Koivistoinen from Finland.

It makes me happy to see large corporations really work with startups from the bottom up and I hope GE will keep it up. Mikko Kauppinen encourages others to do the same using the startup approach:

“Do not be afraid. Believe in your vision that you want to accomplish. Go at it and get it done. Start small, build it up, get early success. It is essentially the startup process and that is what we have done. Did MVP, did crowdsourcing, did pitching. We used the startup way to build up the entire Health Innovation Village and now we have real value for open innovation.” – Mikko Kauppinen.

This advice is true for both startups and corporations alike and we are happy to be a part of it.

It is also great to see this collaboration help Health Startups in Finland, as Noora Kaarela, Head of Health Industry at Finpro says: “StartUp Health is a global leader in building early stage healthcare companies, and is the onlly platform with a long­term plan, which is why we’re incredibly excited to welcome StartUp Health to Finland. Together we can build one of the world’s great countries for personalized health and make it easier to share our innovations with the rest of the world.”

We look forward to seeing the results of this collaboration.

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