It could be said the early-stage startup ecosystem in Finland’s capital region currently clusters around Startup Sauna, based in Espoo. The local community of aspiring entrepreneurs keeps growing, yet the startup ecosystem is not completely self-sustained. That means now may be the right time to strengthen it by bringing more startup spirit to Helsinki downtown.
NewCo Factory, a new incubator project created by the City of Helsinki, is already up and running to help next-generation entrepreneurs get started right in the heart of Helsinki. Operated by EnterpriseHelsinki, NewCo Factory aims to accelerate creation of new startups with international growth potential in Helsinki by giving business idea owners, professional talent and investors an opportunity to find each other. The incubator wants to be a bridge for startups from idea creation to a can-fly-on-their-own stage. To accomplish this, NewCo Factory offers startups help on several fronts like mentorship, networking, and access to seed funding.
On top of that, a downtown co-working space will soon open its doors for both startups participating in the program and those who just want to crash to a conveniently located working desk or a meeting room. Details remain yet to be announced, but ArcticStartup may be participating on that front.
The target of NewCo Factory project is pretty ambitious – their goal is 100 alumni startups by the end of 2014. The program wants to unlock local talents as well as bring international crowds to Finland to build potential growth companies and develop “fabulous products” for international markets.
With this project the City of Helsinki addresses its major concern that is how to create new jobs. According to Timo Onnela, Manager at EnterpriseHelsinki, “more than a half of new jobs are created in [growth companies]”.
Despite the earlier comparison to Startup Sauna, the program doesn’t intend to step on toes of the student-generated activity in Otaniemi. Instead, they want to cooperate with them and other participants to build together a much stronger startup ecosystem in Helsinki region.
As an incubator with city ties, NewCo Factory will have to move fast and flexibly to keep up with the natural operating speed of entrepreneurs. But Helsinki is fastly growing to become a startup capital, and its a positive sign that the city is putting in place proactive measures to help growth companies.