During Slush last year, the “2018 State Of European Tech” report was launched by Atomico — one of Europe’s most renowned VC firms headed by Niklas Zennström, who previously co-founded Skype. The report gives the highlights of the different areas inside the European Tech scheme that are continuously evolving, such as Tech & European Economy, Diversity & Inclusion, and many more.
There is a relationship between the bigger picture showcased in the report and the reality present in each of the local ecosystems. For that reason, we saw necessary to establish which are the common themes and make a comparison of which of those topics will have a key importance throughout the year inside the Finnish ecosystem.
Based on not just the report, but also social media and investor actions, we are able to enumerate some of the trends we consider the Finnish startup ecosystem will be on the lookout for the next year:
1. Diversity and Inclusion
A long spoken topic with no current strong data on a Finnish scale. The recognition of this being a global issue is constantly in the minds of people working for the startup community. Just a quick glance into Slush’s program last year was enough, as it had a bigger focus on diversity led initiatives where minorities are now playing a bigger role in the funding scheme.
Atomico’s report data for 2018 was clear showcasing that out of all European investments, all male-founding teams took home 93% of the deals. A number that compared to previous years is far from becoming more balanced in the European scale. The startup ecosystem is clearly adding this into their battles for 2019 to continue bringing it to the spotlight and drive change.
2. Talent Challenges With New Perspectives
One popular narrative has been that “there is a lack of tech talent in Finland”. This is not the absolute truth as the facts seem to have started to move towards the opposite direction. In fact, according to Atomico’s report, Finland has one of the highest amounts of professional developers per 1000 inhabitants. The focus now is being put more towards the engagement and retention of the existing talent in the country. Plus, there is an untapped segment of talent which is the existing foreign workforce in the country.
The IMD World Talent Ranking ranked Finland fifth within their talent indicators during 2017 and in 2018 it has moved to the seventh position. The only section where Finland ranked lowest was “talent attraction” as Finland is often unappealing to foreign workers, due to the high living costs compared to other European countries. However, Finnish government institutions are paying increasing attention to solving the talent challenges, especially in the “attractiveness” area.
3. Impact / Societal Challenges
People are aware of the impact, their products & services of choice have in the larger picture. Such is the case, that choosing to work for companies that do good can become a bigger trend. On an European level, an important percentage of people agree that tech entrepreneurs will have a bigger impact than the European government itself when trying to solve global challenges. This is a time for investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to rethink the impact of their investments and business ideas.
In the Nordics and Finland the trend is noticeable. For example, there is already a player in Finland that has built a model to help businesses measure their net impact — The Upright Project. We can also find a Finnish startup tackling the plastic waste problem by making product packaging out of wood waste — Sulapac. Finland is definitely on top of its game when it comes to sustainability. What is needed is more support for impact entrepreneurs and a mind shift. Supporting businesses that do good is not just a charity project but can also bring considerable financial and environmental returns.
4. The Mobility Race
During 2018 alone, several new known mobility service providers players entered or announced their trials into the Finnish market: Uber, Yango, Taxify, Kyyti, MaaS Global and Wing. These players that operate with a similar business model are hinting that the market is at a good peak, and are now fighting to get the biggest chunk of the mobility service providers market in Finland.
Mobility in Finland right now presents a big opportunity and is becoming a game changer globally in the fields of seamless transport chains, emission reduction, and big data. Business Finland released last year a new “Smart Mobility Program” to support Finland in becoming a pioneer in the field. We can foresee the trend will grow and it won’t be a surprise to see more MaaS players entering the Finnish market or more solutions being built around this vertical.
5. Cross-Nordic Cooperation
The Nordic startup community has been active highlighting the successful startup stories of the region and sticking together to bring benefits to the local ecosystems. A strong Nordic ecosystem has been promoted through utilising the hashtag #nordicmade, and co- creating projects that help the entrepreneurs and different communities be known outside of the Nordics. Last year, Maria 01 was part of two different cross-border projects that were launched as a result of the communities coming together and executing to bring more attention to the region (movetonordics.com & Startup Guide Nordics). This year, we will hopefully continue to see this cooperations between the Nordic communities.
Are there any other trends that you believe will be key this year for the development of our startup ecosystem? Leave us your thoughts below.