What is the secret sauce for creating successful startup ecosystems?

Finland is a small country in the northernmost corner of Europe with a population of only 5.4 million people. Despite our relatively small population, we are still top in the world in many categories.

We have the biggest number of heavy metal bands and saunas per capita, the best education system and the best mobile games. We have “produced” some of the world’s greatest NHL ice hockey players, Formula One drivers and rally drivers. In addition to these, Finland is the best country to be a mother.

But in startup ecosystem rankings we aren’t even reaching the top 20.

Today technology entrepreneurship is a global phenomenon with startup ecosystems similar to Silicon Valley rapidly emerging all around the world. So what are the main ingredients of the winning startup ecosystem?

It is clear that the economic foundation, government policies and legal and policy infrastructure should not be creating any unnecessary hinders and the technical infrastructure has to be existent, but above that? The secret is in the activity of the startup ecosystem.

A startup ecosystem is formed by people, startups in their various stages and different types of organizations such as universities, funding organizations, support organizations, service providers and large corporations interacting as a system to create new startup companies and to boost them to growth. But having all the components is useless if there is no “buzz” in the system.

The startup ecosystems that create the best results have a lot of “buzz” as a result of ongoing interaction between the parties.

We need to welcome new players to the game open-mindedly – and avoid building silos and curling up into defense mode like a hedgehog.

We need more opportunities for entrepreneurs to meet financiers and co-entrepreneurs. We also need to encourage employees and startups to meet each other, and small companies and large corporations to get to know each other.

We need talent to match “nestlings” and activate more experienced people to guide our startups to the global path. Actually the active pay it forward –culture, where experienced entrepreneurs help the nestlings is being cited as the secret sauce of Silicon Valley!

The more parties are involved and the more dynamics can be created, the more everyone can win. This is also the mission of FINAC – to offer a forum that brings all startup ecosystem players together to generate the buzz that can make Finland one of the best places for the startups and growth companies!

Let’s do the same thing to our startups that we did for the mothers and babies – Let’s become the best country to start the path of life!

This article is written by Finnish Business Acceleration Network Association (FINAC), which is a national non-profit association that drives the growth and quality of the Finnish startup and SME ecosystem.

FINAC serves as a general spokesman and lobbyist for startups and drives activities with dynamic interaction. One of such activities is FINAC Open, an open pitching and networking event for the whole startup ecosystem, which will be organized for the next time on May 9th in Helsinki. From next autumn the event will be held on a monthly basis.


Vigo Innovation Summit brought together entrepreneurs, accelerators, financiers and experts from hot fields to explore emerging opportunities. Photo: FINAC

The association’s backbone is the pioneering program Vigo lauched by The Ministry of Employment and Economy in 2009. Vigo encourages serial entrepreneurs and experienced business leaders to establish private venture accelerators.