This post belongs to a series of posts, supported by the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs.

Very few people on a macro economical scale realise the importance of entrepreneurship to a nation’s economic welfare. However, even fewer realise the importance of foreign talent to the success of a nation’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and hence the success of a nation’s welfare. While there have been studies to support this, it hasn’t reached the level of acknowledgement it deserves in the Nordics and Baltics yet.

At least in Finland, many of the companies we’ve talked to are in dire need of talented individuals. The Finnish education system, nor companies for that fact, have been unable to support this demand of talent. The only option is to seek talent elsewhere.

This is only one of the most common examples startups, at least in Finland, run to – when they are trying to grow their companies. Talented foreigners are a key part of the solution, but their importance on a national level is widely unrecognised.

Jaakko Salminen, the CEO of Finnish Software Entrepreneurs stated that he has identified a lot of talented foreigners starting companies in Finland, many inspired through organisations such as Aalto Entrepreneurship Society. He also shared a discovery he made through an article recently, written by Jussi Mekkonen of Nordea Bank who stated that about half of the new business clients they sign are founded by foreigners.

Surely there are many obstacles to be cleared, but the most important of them has already been brought down; Finnish companies want foreign talent in Finland. There’s no question about it. Unfortunately this doesn’t simplify things a lot. Foreigners not only encounter a difficult language, but many small bureaucratic issues slowing them down from starting or joining companies to work for.

I’m sure many other Nordic and Baltic countries share this burden.

Politicians on a national, but also on a city level should understand the need to improve attractiveness of the Nordic and Baltic startup ecosystem for foreigners. Not only that, they need to actively start bringing down the barriers to enable more talent to more easily begin creating jobs and value in the market place.

If foreigners would have had a hard time starting businesses in Silicon Valley, we would have never seen companies like PayPal for example. Some studies have shown that around half of the wealth generated in Silicon Valley has been built through companies started by immigrants. Even if Silicon Valley is considered to be the startup Mecca globally, they still want to ease the flow of talented individuals to their country through concepts such as Startup Visa.

Can we in the Nordics and Baltics really afford not to capitalise on that potential?

Image by gadgetgirl