Lasse Männistö and Taneli Tikka came out yesterday with a three point suggestion to renew the governmental work regarding startups and growth companies. The timing is intentional and perfect, later tonight Aalto Entrepreneurship Society will host a panel discussion with some of the most renown business men and women Finland has. Taneli Tikka is one of the more acknowledged Finnish serial entrepreneurs and Lasse Männistö, a member of the Helsinki City Council, is a candidate running for Finnish Parliament.
The recommendations can be read on Lasse Männistö’s website, for example, but we’ll summarise the points and other discussion it has sparked. Like we’ve written before, Finland will see its parliamentary elections in April and many startup entrepreneurs would like to see the topic included among the other important discussion items. Many, rightly so, believe focus on startups is one of the key ways to improve the economy in the long term.
The three points Männistö and Tikka argue are: 1) the current innovation and r&d-financing must shift from direct financial support to tax incentives, 2) policies and investments from the government have to become market driven and 3) the whole infrastructure around support for startups must undergo a large reform to become more simple and straight forward. The points immediately sparked off discussion in Facebook and blogs covering the recommendations.
While this may seem very Finland-centric, we believe this is an interesting and critical issue to be covered and shared from a political view point as well. It will be interesting to see over the coming weeks how MP candidates touch on this during the run up to the elections. Essentially, it’s a light weight analysis to how well all the efforts by entrepreneurs and others are able to influence future decision making.
Serial entrepreneur and investor, Petteri Koponen also added his viewpoints to the issue in his blog. He was mostly in support of the points Männistö and Tikka raised, but also stated that most of the people commenting the issue are missing the core of the question; we need to found and fund more startups. According to Koponen, this is the key to creating a truly working startup culture.
The major shift I’d personally like to see on a governmental level in Finland would be the acknowledgement of startups and growth companies as an important economical driver for the future. This would in turn differentiate them from the rest of the companies and entrepreneurs, enabling them to be viewed and legislated differently.
The whole ecosystem must become simpler and more market driven. The duty of the government is to create an infrastructure that supports market driven activities to help grow and create more startups – nothing more. This means that bureaucracy must be cut down dramatically and most, if not all, government financial support to startups should be decided by private investors (their investments should be multiplied by the government). And finally, let’s not try to limit the use of the money for the entrepreneur. They know best how to use the money.
Tax incentives are also needed, but mostly they might be more useful for the private investors investing in startups. Again, the government must create a certain environment where it motivates private people to invest into companies.
Universities and the whole education system is in key role as well. However, it’s going to be tough ship to turn around, like Petteri Koponen states in his blog post. Acknowledgement and respect towards startups must be increased at all levels of the government.
The task is not simple. There are numerous methods to go about this. Then again, it’s far from being impossible. Finland is agile and small, meaning it should be able to dramatically improve the chances of startups succeeding from a governmental view point relatively quickly. The most important thing is to vote those candidates to the Finnish parliament who have the motivation and will to actually do something about the issue.
Otherwise, we’ll be in the same situation in four years time before the next elections and all we would have achieved is a great amount of discussion without any concrete results.