Ilkka Kivimäki: The startup scene sizzles

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LinkedIn

The entrepreneurial culture is strong in Finland. In recent years more and more startup companies have set out to conquer the world and have been very successful. There are many factors contributing to their success. 

“We have invested in research and education. Our engineering know-how is genuinely strong and our work culture supports innovation and problem solving,” says Ilkka Kivimäki, head coach of Startup Sauna, the growth entrepreneurship programme at Aalto University. 

International investors are taking an interest in Finnish companies. Kivimäki notes that investors find Finland to be an easy and transparent operating environment, where all the fundamentals are in order.

At the root of growth 

A startup company is a young, growth-oriented company whose success is just sprouting. Consistent with the definition, it aims for quick growth and internationalisation.  

“There have always been startups. But now they are more socially acceptable in Finland, and major media write about them with a positive tone,” says Ilkka Kivimäki. Having been involved in the establishment of many companies, he knows what he is talking about. 

From springboard to dream jump 

When the question is posed where in Europe entrepreneurialism is thriving, the first answer should be Finland. Juuso Koskinen, captain of the Startup Sauna programme, believes that it is critical we have the best talent and the best ideas.  

There are various workshops and incubators in Finland that are pursuing working ideas and lending wings to future high-flyers. The idea of Startup Sauna is to bring the best startup companies in northern Europe and Russia to Finland for a five-week programme offering lectures, workshops and networking opportunities. 

For Ilkka Kivimäki, the attributes of a potentially successful company are clear. “The ideas must be unique and the product or service must be scalable. But the most important factor is a good team, because it’s always easier to refine the product along the way.”


Read the entire interview from the Growth magazine 2/2013.