New business hatchingI had the pleasure of meeting with Janne Känkänen from the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy, the operational primus motor behind the Vigo startup accelerator programme that the Finnish government has been putting together in the recent months. I for one am very suspicious of where the government wants to take the growth entrepreneurship as an ecosystem, but was very glad to find out that there has been plenty of productive progress happening behind the scenes.

The Vigo, startup accelerator, that we wrote about earlier (but did not know the name back then) is only one concrete realisation of this new programme and its results. Mr Känkänen also told us that growth entrepreneurship ecosystem has been understood to require special methods of assistance and the current economic climate has further sped up those requirements.

The benchmark for the programme has been taken from Israel. I interviewed Pekka Roine over a year ago and this work behind the scenes has grown strong results, which Vigo is one part of. The model has not been fully cloned as the differences between the countries have been realised. Mr Känkänen said that there is no point in building an accelerator programme if you do not dare to benchmark yourself to the best in the world. That’s the kind of attitude I’ve been longing for from the government.

At the moment, the final run for companies helping with the acceleration of these growth businesses is in the final stretch. According to sources very close to us, around the 1st of May the first decisions regarding the finalists will be made and the ones chosen will be able to participate in the programme as mentors and accelerators. These are the companies that the government of Finland (ultimately) will rely on to make the investment decisions.

Mr Känkänen also told us that there are other iniiatives in the parliament of Finland that are thought to spice up the early stage investment market such as tax benefits for angel investors. I’m personally very excited of the opportunities here and I hail to the division of responsibility in the programme, leaving the part which each one does best to themselves – ie. the government not trying to play the specialist in creating good investment decisions and leaving that to actual investors.

The steering group behind this programme has been pulled from the elite of the Finnish startup scene, steered in itself by Risto Siilasmaa. Others on board haven’t been named yet, but we believe it has a strong representation from serial entrepreneurs, high level investors and entrepreneurs.

(Image by jimdeane)