Hi, I am Oiva Lukander and I have been an intern in Summer of Startups for almost a week now and I am going to tell about my own experiences. I am also going to tell the image I got of working in Summer of Startups.
Okey, so the thing about SoS (Summer of Startups) is that a group of teams are given free working space and coaching for their own startups. This summer there are 14 teams with incredible startups. All the teams have been very active and hardworking all this time. Some of the groups have even given me some work to do as an intern, which have been good practice for my own coming working career.
The working here is very different from what I expected. Before I got here i thought that everyone would be working in the same way, but now I have noticed that everyone has their own way to work and that there are a lot of ways to make your own startup grow bigger. I also thought that SoS would be more like an office, but instead of the strict rules of an office, Summer of Startups is a very relaxed place. But even though you have got all this freedom you still have to get the work done.
The groups have been very inspiring, and not least with showing the interest and passion they have got for their own startups. I have been here for a week now and not one time have i seen these guys just laying around not “caring” about their startup.
Not only have the startups gotten “one to one” coaching but also some great lectures from some great entrepreneurs like for example Linda Liukas and Peter Vesterbacka.
In the lectures the teams got some great tips and so did I, which is awesome. It has been fun to work with the teams and with SoS and I think I will come here myself when I am a bit older.
Posted on 27.5.2016 by Tuula Antola
Tuula Antola is the City of Espoo’s Director for Economic and Business Development and a keen gardener with a particular knack for cultivating innovation.
Espoo birds flying high
The Espoo and wider Finnish economy received a new and unexpected boost when the Espoo Innovation Garden-based entertainment media company Rovio’s Angry Birds flew out into the world – and most recently to a cinema near you. In its coverage of the story, Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat rightly noted that, with the film, Rovio has established itself as a world-class studio. The film might not have been made in Finland but it is precisely that unique brand of fearlessness and innovative thinking so typical of Finland and Espoo that paved the way for this new style of project, generating new growth opportunities for Finland, and Rovio’s native city, along the way.
As Espoo’s Director for Economic and Business Development, I have watched the Angry Birds’ cinematic success with a mixture of pride and joy. The film was released to a hugely excited reception and children the world over are having great fun watching the birds and pigs’ outrageous exploits. The film flew to the top spot on the charts in the US, China and many other countries. What better way for Espoo to conquer the world?
In domestic Finnish terms, the film’s viewing figures are simply staggering. Rovio’s sizeable investment in the production, and the marketing in particular, has paid off and the film’s success will now open doors to further expansion.
In a bold move earlier this spring, the United Nations appointed Red, the Angry Birds Movie’s male lead, as an Honorary Ambassador for Green on the International Day of Happiness. Red’s appointment forms part of the UN’s #AngryBirdsHappyPlanet campaign, designed to promote the International Day of Happiness, observed in March each year, around the world and to encourage people to take action against climate change and its impacts.
Perhaps one day Espoo might adopt one of these furious feathered creatures as an ambassador for a good cause. The film’s growing popularity certainly makes it an attractive prospect.
At Espoo, we are thrilled to be cheering on one of our own, as they reach for ever greater things on the global scene.
Posted on 14.4.2016 by Tuula Antola
Tuula Antola is the City of Espoo’s Director for Economic and Business Development and a keen gardener with a particular knack for cultivating innovation.
Welcome to Otaniemi
It’s hard to think of a better birthday present for an Otaniemi alumna than the news that all of Aalto University’s core functions are due to be centralised at the Otaniemi campus.
The university’s business school Bachelor programme re-located to Otaniemi in the autumn of 2015, while the School of Arts, Design and Architecture is due to follow in 2018. As part of this new announcement, it has been confirmed that the Business School’s Töölö-based functions, along with all teaching staff, researchers and students will also move to a new, purpose-built facility in Otaniemi.
During my time at the Helsinki University of Technology, teekkarit, the technology students and kylterit, the business students, were more likely to mix at parties than in the academic arena. At that time, the world around us was changing, perhaps more profoundly than any of us realised. I remember being sat a German tutorial and hearing that the Berlin Wall had come down, and an excursion to a paper mill at Tervakoski, where the news reached us that the Finnish currency, the markka, was to undergo devaluation. Student life does not seem to have change so much from those days, apart from the technological aspects, of course.
I graduated in 1994, the same year that Justin Bieber was born, version 1.0 of Linux was released and Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first black president of South Africa. Soon after this, in 1995, the university launched its first cross-disciplinary International Design Business Management (IDBM) qualification that brought together business, technology and arts students in a groundbreaking new programme, where participants were tasked by real businesses to solve real problems. In 2006, one such IDMB team made a huge contribution to the service design of my own fledgling business.
Aalto University was created in 2010 with the merger of the Helsinki Business School, the University of Art and Design and the Helsinki University of Technology.
By 2014, it was my very great pleasure, in my role as Espoo’s Director for Economic and Business Development to invite the Aalto University Product Development Project team to design a new and innovative user experience for the Aalto University metro station. The end result was a virtual art gallery and a never-before-seen experience for metro passengers.
Aalto University is a multi-disciplinary institution, where art meets science meets technology meets business. In the same way, the fundamental principle informing everything that happens at the Espoo Innovation Garden, is joint working and shared effort. This sort of interconnectedness has real power, and the potential to change the world.
At Espoo, we are thrilled and proud that Aalto University have decided to focus their core functions at Otaniemi. This move is a boost for the Otaniemi-Tapiola-Keilaniemi area as an international business and innovation hub and as a driver of economic growth for all of Finland.
Posted on 23.3.2016 by Juuso Virkajärvi
Juuso Virkajärvi, 20 year old first year Student at Aalto University School of Business and a proud member of Aalto Entrepreneurship Society.
A journey to wilderness
Imagine a group of young students creating a program that helps connect people who are interested in creating or joining a startup. The plan was to gather and connect people who share the same passion and ambitions towards startups as we do. The participants would form new teams and start to develop their idea to startup with help from our coaches and workshops. TeamUp, as we decided to name it, would be the program giving the tools and knowledge so that the next Rovio or Supercell could born.
When I first heard the idea, I felt eager and excited. This idea was just what the startup community needed. But also among these feelings I felt fear and doubt. I could hear a voice inside my head is whispering. “Do you really have the skills and knowledge to do this?”
We all fear and doubt ourselves too often. We all hear the little voice whispering inside our heads. And we all have choice to let our fears hammer us down or to face them. I think entrepreneurship is all about this choice. The choice to meet our fears and doubts in quest to create something new and beautiful.
Think about it. So often we limit our choices to the ones we are familiar with. The ones we feel safe. But ask yourself: How many of your life's best moments and outcomes are caused by you moving out of your comfort zone and stepping to the wilderness filled with possibilities, misfortune and success. For example it might be scary to ask someone out or to start your own startup. Surely they might say no and the startup can fail miserably. But I think these moments of failure are easily overshadowed by the joy of successful outcome. During TeamUp I had the pleasure of feeling this joy once again.
TeamUp’s first event was a huge success. All of my fears and doubts were unfounded. More than 30 new startup teams were formed in just three days. In an event created by bunch of students and me. People praised the program. And to think I would have missed all of this if I had listened the little voice in my head repeating my doubts.
I would like to say thank you to the Espoo Innovation Garden and our other sponsors. For they put aside their doubts and fears and joined in our journey to wilderness.
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
Posted on 19.1.2016 by Fanglan Tao
Fanglan Tao is the Head of International Affairs in the City of Espoo. Born in Shanghai, China, she moved to Finland in the age of 15. Before the current position, she has been working in ABB in different jobs e.g. in China and in the United States.
She is responsible for international activities and strategies for the City of Espoo and is contributing international co-operation between EU, Finnish Ministries and councils of foreign countries. Fanglan is an important link between the City of Espoo and Shanghai in their sister city relation. Attracting foreign investments to Finland and Espoo is essential part of her job. In other words, Fanglan is making Espoo Innovation Garden familiar all around the world.
My two home cities
November 2015 was a very special month for me. I said goodbye to my many years’ colleagues in a giant global corporation and started my new professional journey as a Head of International Affairs of City of Espoo. Even if I have lived in Espoo already for 14 years I have only seen a small part of Espoo so far. Now it’s time to open the curtain and look at what is behind the scenes.
As an original Shanghainese, I am proud that my present home city Espoo is a sister city to Shanghai. Already during my third week in a new job I had a chance to visit Shanghai. The delegation was led by the Mayor of Espoo, Jukka Mäkelä and followed by Director of Economic and Business Development, Tuula Antola. The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen the close and long-term relationship between the cities. The sister city agreement will be renewed with a new MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for the next three years in 2016.
This was a first time to me to start a trip with a dragon dance and air hostesses choir performances at the airport. This extra program was arranged to celebrate the first long distance flight of Finnair A350 from Helsinki to Shanghai.
Our three day visit to Shanghai was booked full of program including meetings with Shanghai Mayor Mr. Xiong YANG, Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone management, Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) colleagues and ZhangJiang Group (ZhangJiang Innovation Park) Ventures and Incubator management. Our program included also the Finnair’s reception, which was a nice get-together of Finnish business representatives based in Shanghai. The Finnish business community in Shanghai is the biggest one outside of Europe.
We also joined the celebration of Finnish Innovation Center FinChi’s 10 years anniversary. Finchi was established in 2005 and is now a key orchestrator of Team Finland operations in China. Finchi offers Finnish companies a great access to local hi-tech companies in a variety of industries. As a city, Espoo wants to encourage both Finnish SMEs to establish their bases in Shanghai, and Chinese companies in Espoo.
In all the meetings Mayor Jukka Mäkelä emphasized the importance of good collaboration in all levels - between countries, cities, universities and companies. Mayor YANG expressed his full support on this approach. He also welcomed SLUSH - a matchmaking event for startups and investors - to Shanghai in 2016. The meeting of two Mayors, which was already a third one, was reported widely in Shanghai media. As an example, my parents who live in Shanghai called me on the next day and told they had seen me on television with two Mayors.
All in all, this was an unforgettable trip for me personally. I promise as both a Shanghainese and a present Espoo resident, that I will do my very best on developing this special relation for the good of people and businesses, in both of my dear home cities.
Posted on 17.11.2015 by Huawei Kong
Huawei Kong is a Chinese early stage investor from Zhangjiang Ventures. His special focus is on medical and gaming industries. He stayed in Espoo for three months in 2015 to get to know the Espoo Innovation Garden ecosystem and its' actors, including potential investment targets.
Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, established in July 1992, is one of China's first state-level high-tech zones approved by the State Council as well as the core park of Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone.
City of Espoo and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park signed a MoU on 2013 related to startup collaboration and investments.
I love Espoo Innovation Garden
As a venture capital investor from China seeking startups to invest in, Espoo was a complete stranger to me when I landed at Helsinki Airport in April 2015. It was during that visit that I was recommended to join Espoo Innovation Garden’s Facebook group as a Gardener.
At first I didn’t pay attention to the word Gardener, so I nonchalantly glanced at the information about activities and events. Every now and then joined the events virtually, like Demo Day of Startup Sauna, Breakfast at Aalto Design Factory, or the Innovation 2.0 conference.
Soon the events from Espoo Innovation Garden filled my calendar, and I was positively surprised by the amount of activity in the “small” city of Espoo, comparing it to the much larger Shanghai.
After interviewing several startups and attending different events, I met with some active people and understood that they are Gardeners too.
It was then when I started to follow the Gardeners’ activities and their posts in the Facebook group with more interest and was able to understand their secrets. It seems that they all have three key factors: a pair of smart eyes, passion of heart and positive motives.
Gardeners are experts in their special field. They can look at new technologies and position them into existing systems. They are involved both in the off- and online worlds. They let people around them feel their passion, and they have understood that innovation is the force driving positive development for both individuals and the system.
Slowly I started to apply my “passion and wisdom” to become an active participant in the Garden, making friends and finding startups like Catchbox. My current goal is to become an “on-line to off-line” Gardener in my own ecosystem. Since July I have stayed in touch with Espoo Innovation Garden every day. Espoo Innovation Garden is active; it collects the wisdom from the Gardeners and shares it back as inspiration. It impresses me deeply with its diversity and the vitality of innovation. I love Espoo Innovation Garden.
Posted on 3.5.2015 by Markku Markkula
Chair of the Espoo City Planning Board
President, the European Committee of the Regions
Markku Markkula is a long-standing member of Espoo City Council. A few months ago he was elected the President of the European Committee of the Regions. With its 350 members the CoR is one of the EU Institutions, the assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28 Member States.
Openness Is a Key Ingredient of Talent Competiveness
Professor Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices, stopped me today to think about society’s renewable capital and the operational tactics in defining our Espoo political and also business priorities. His keynote speech in the European conference on Digital and Key Enabling Technologies Skills was titled “The War for Talent”. His two conclusive messages were “Openness is a key ingredient of talent competiveness” and “Talent in the 21st century must go beyond the traditional pillar of formal education”. He also integrated my European opening remarks to the results of the INSEAD study “The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2014” with a statement “There is something happening here – Europe is not doing badly at all”. What does this mean to us in Espoo?
We recently published a book about the Espoo Innovation Garden – a journey titled “Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems”. The driving idea in the 30 articles in the book is pioneering through experimenting.The City of Espoo wants to attract people with a mind-set for discovery - the key people are the ones living, going to school and/or working in Espoo. Our Espoo-way means also structural readiness for change. The city has re-organised its governance structures and processes by initiating five policy programmes, each with a steering group of five top decision-makers and five top civil servants. The targets are defined to focus on co-creating new innovative solutions to Grand Societal Challenges. This Espoo exercise can turn out to become – through policy experimenting and piloting – a prototype, scaling something unique for the rest of the world.
When thinking the words of Bruno Lanvin, I opened the Orchestration book (you can also download the book from the front page of www.urbanmill.org) and read again the Moving Forward article of Saija Äikäs and Sirpa Hertell, two chairs of our Espoo five policy programmes. The city’s commitment and eagerness to increase societal renewable capital can be characterised by quoting their text:
How can we create an inclusive and fully accessible society, in which all citizens are ‘smart’ and can contribute to co-creating quality of life? This is not the kind of inclusion that means someone tells us what to do and what is important for us, hoping citizens will simply comply. It is an inclusive society in which all citizens are seen as people with talents – “potential waiting to be unleashed” – who can creating value for their own lives and for their communities. It is a society in which innovativeness is the common state of mind. It is a region of reciprocal relationships and relevant roles for government and civil society, empowering and engaging people to contribute in the most appropriate ways.
For me political decision-making is above all commitment to positive changes and building the desired future. These changes need to be based on our shared values and attitudes, even eagerness, to knowledge co-creation and shared ownership of the processes needed. We will experiment and pilot these hosting the EU Open Innovation 2.0 conference in Espoo – and also prototyping some interesting conference outcomes after the conference.