Maria 01 is located on an old hospital campus that dates back to the 1800s. Originally called Marian Sairaala (Maria’s Hospital), named after Aleksander the III of Russia’s wife Maria Feodorovna, Maria was the first hospital in Helsinki. For over a hundred years it served as a war and public hospital, up until 2014 when the hospital operations were closed down permanently. Two years later, in 2016, the campus was about to see its biggest change yet as it steered its route to becoming a leading startup campus.

With the City of Helsinki in the lead, a project group started drafting a rough plan on how a startup campus could be built and operated.

Maria 01 Yard
Maria 01 Yard

As one can imagine, turning an old hospital into a startup campus is no easy job, but with a bit of luck, the push from eager investors and persistent hard work, invites to the first unofficial Maria 01 launch party were sent out in December 2015. You could feel the excitement as around 200 persons from the Finnish startup ecosystem entered the campus, still looking like the torn-down hospital it was, ready to throw around ideas on how we together build a future home and gathering spot for the Nordic startup ecosystem. 

That Maria 01 is, and always will be, community-driven, something built by its members for the members, a place where entrepreneurs support each other to grow, was clear since the beginning.

Not long after the ecosystem had gathered to sketch down the building blocks to what would become one of Europe’s leading startup campuses, we opened the doors to the first members of the Maria 01 Community. The plan of starting small, only renting out parts of the building, was quickly scratched as the interest in being part of building up the community exceeded all expectations. We saw startups, renowned investors, established corporate partners and ecosystem organisations show up at the doors with their laptops and desks, all ready to get their hands dirty and help fix up the old hospital into a functioning startup campus. 

2016 is a busy, and frankly, also quite a challenging year for Maria 01. While trying to build a startup campus, we are ourselves living the uncertain lives of a startup. Where is the financing going to come from, who is going to lead the team, and how are we going to keep up with the demand and growth? The true community effort (and maybe some Finnish sisu?) however, outshined the sleepless nights and soon enough we had expanded our operations into the surrounding buildings. Today, the Maria 01 Campus consists of six buildings and 20,000 square meters.