Students in Finland have come a long way in a few years. Last night, Finland saw one of its most impressive events in support of growth entrepreneurship – all organised by a small group of passionate students. What makes this all the better, is that the event was covered by numerous national media and the panelists at the actual event included the hotshots of Finnish business environment; a mix of very influential business people and a group of startup entrepreneurs. The event was called “Finland Post Welfare“, questioning the things Finland should work on to sustain its welfare status. It was put together by Aalto Entrepreneurship Society.
We live blogged the event last night in English as the event itself was held in Finnish. As it’s not the best use of anyone’s time to suggest that you go through the logs – we’ll do our best to summarise the event in this post.
One of the goals of the event was to talk about the things Finland should work on to sustain the welfare state in the future. While not many concrete solutions were proposed, the discussions did raise valid points about numerous things.
One of the key issues that was talked about was the role of the government in supporting the growth and creation of startups. Opinions ranged from Björn “Nalle” Wahlroos’ views of “let the market handle things” to more conservative views by Risto Siilasmaa like that of the Vigo program. Siilasmaa stated that government help is needed to catalyse and multiply the work of the private sector, not try to compete with it, especially in the early stages.
The panelists also more or less agreed that Finnish entrepreneurs are not ambitious enough. Björn Wahlroos stated that in the Finnish edition of the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” contestants always walked away with the smallest wins. The contestants avoided risk and according to Wahlroos this same mentality is seen everywhere in the Finnish society.
Wahlroos, at one point, seriously questioned why everyone is wanting the government to participate in the market economy and in doing so, raised a good point. We shouldn’t become too narrow minded in our views – nothing should be taken for granted when looking for new ways to create wealth and success.
Ollila and Wahlroos stated that taxes need to be lowered in order to make Finland more appealing. Interestingly, not many Twitter users tweeting about the event agreed on this – it seems like the younger generation is at ease with the current level of taxes. The way I see this is, that we Finns may be fine with it but it’s really hard to justify any foreign investments with high taxes. Finland has to become more appealing on an international level as well.
Finally, the reason everyone should celebrate the event and its outcome is not because of the concrete results it offered for the politicians or members of the media, but because it showed students especially, like other Finns seriously care about the future. 9 buses full of students arrived to the event from 9 different venues. Overall, it was stated that approximately 900 students participated. This signals a clear change in attitude in support of entrepreneurship that has already begun.
Let’s celebrate the fact that this many people (about 1700) showed up on a Monday evening to voluntarily listen how they could make Finland a better place.
Let’s celebrate this, but then again get back to work as there’s lots of it left.