Good basic education and the technology-driven nature of the economy are just two of the reasons that start-ups flourish so well in the Nordic Region, according to the Finnish Minister for Nordic Co-operation, Anne Berner. The huge “Slush” event in Helsinki shows just how well start-ups are doing in the Region.
Peik Hämekoski (left) is the project manager for the Nordic Council of start-up project The Rising North.
Some 20,000 people attended Slush 2016, making it one of the biggest events anywhere in the world for start-up companies. The strong Nordic presence included the “Nordic Showcase” and lectures by representatives of well-known start-ups.
The Rising North, a project launched during the Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2016, was also present.
“The idea is for us to help the start-up scene become more international and to boost the Nordic brand outside the Region,” says project manager Peik Hämekoski.
The main purpose of the project is to provide support for networks and platforms rather than to fund start-ups directly. The Rising North runs until the end of 2018 and has a budget of €1.5 million.
“One of the points of The Rising North project is to promote co-operation between start-up companies in the Nordic Region,” Anne Berner explains.
“We want to ensure that there is something that unites Nordic start-ups and that they have a network,” she says.
Digitisation and business have been top priorities for the Finnish Presidency, which made Slush an obvious and natural part of the programme.
According to the minister, education and technological expertise are two of the reasons why the Nordic countries are so strong in start-ups.
“We have good education and training systems. Our economies are very much technology-driven and growth has been dependent on technological expertise. We have also had a need to make progress again after economic setbacks a few years ago. The young generation has accepted the challenge. They want to change the world, and it is a wonderful sight to behold,” she adds.
As well as a whole host of well-known business leaders and investors providing inspiration,
Slush 2016 also attracted a royal visitor. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway opened Nordic Showcase with a tribute to the many successful Nordic start-up companies.
At a press conference, the Crown Prince was asked why the Nordic Region does so well in start-ups, so well that in southern Europe people talk in admiring tones of “the Nordic model”. “What is the Nordic model?” he was asked.
“I do not think that there is a single and definitive answer to that question. However, working together makes it easier for us all to build on experiences from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark,” the Crown Prince replied. He also mentioned how successful Slush has been at providing an arena for networking and interaction.
Another Nordic feature at Slush was Hack4Norden, a competition in data-driven innovation under the auspices of Nordic Innovation, which is part of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Eight teams from the Nordic Region, picked at national “Hackathons”, competed for victory. Norska Hidden, a game app about Nordic history and folklore won first prize and NOK 125,000.
The Nordic startup network uses the hashtag #NordicMade, which it launched in collaboration with Nordic Innovation.
Slush was held in Helsinki on 30 November and 1 December.