November 30, 2021

Building blocks for the next era of the welfare state


Two months ago, we published the Finnish Startup Community together with more than 100 startup and growth company members. The reception was overwhelmingly positive and it seems our message resonated well—the message being, that it is about time to roll up our sleeves and get to work to make Finland the best country in the world.

The first weeks of the community have been hectic. We have made progress with our most crucial objectives—like simplifying work-related immigration and showcasing the need for English-speaking school places—and established a fluent relationship with relevant policy actors in Finland, such as Finnish Immigration Service. We have also been happy to notice the buzzing interest in our community. After the launch, we received more than 400 messages and membership applications.

Our community has two main focus areas. First, we want to have a positive impact on our society by making sure Finland becomes the best environment in the world to build and cultivate startups. Second, our community aims to reinforce the cooperation between startups. Our members have helped each other out, found new ideas, and improved their companies’ course of action. We believe in positive collaboration, and this is visible in both our internal and external activities.

For me personally, having a societal impact on matters I find important has always been imperative. I have wanted to concretely work to fix the shortcomings I notice. In The Finnish Startup Community, I get to continue this work together with the whole community working towards a better Finland.

Why we founded the Finnish Startup Community

The Finnish Startup Community originated from gratitude towards the Finnish welfare society. Our entrepreneurs are proud to have such great starting positions to create new, growing, and successful companies. In this community, we believe that the American dream is most accessible right here. We have the freedom to go forward, endeavour, and study, no matter what the background of our parents has been. This sense of equality is the foundation of Finnish success.

Traditionally, people in Finland have been broad-minded about diversity and differences. We have always kept our minds open to more unconventional ideas. It has made entrepreneurship and the execution of ideas possible. This broad-mindedness has enabled the success of companies like Supercell, Wolt, Aiven, and Relex.

Right now, we find ourselves at a crossroads. The global competition over talent and companies has increased. To finish last in this competition—or even a slight fall behind from the top—means a decrease in welfare.

Finnish economy and structure of society face great challenges. We simply have to create new to complement what we already have. We believe that creating new is vital, and everyone benefits from it. What we do not believe is that confrontation of different industries or “old” and “new” economy is constructive.

We are witnessing growing inequality. Some are extremely well off, while some find themselves at the other end of the spectrum. The possibility for each child to educate themselves and make their life worthwhile despite their background is, at least partly, crumbling. We might lose a major part of the equality of opportunity in our society—the very equality success stories have been built on.

We believe that a well-balanced and prosperous Finland is built affirmatively and without confrontation. Attractive Finland is built by looking boldly across borders.

Startups - a new pillar for the economy

At the core of the third industrial revolution are technology and entrepreneurship. About half of the most significant companies have been founded fairly recently and most novel technologies are developing rapidly. For example, quantum computers, Web 3.0, and GPT-3 will profoundly alter how people, companies, and societies work.

Finland is well set for this shift as a country of high technology and great competence. At the same time as we develop top technologies, responsible entrepreneurship is a part of our culture. Finnish values should not be forgotten when building companies: transparency, equality, and honesty are assets when doing global business. During the next 20 years, tens of thousands of remarkable technology companies will be founded. Finland has a great opportunity to be the origin and home country of these companies.

We think that startups will become a new pillar for the economy and society. We believe that by the year 2030, the value of exports created by startups has increased from the current 2 billion to 10 billion euros. This is our most conservative estimate, and even it would bring the startup industry to the same ballpark as the forest and metal industries. What we want is that in the future, a major portion of the world’s leading technology companies is from Finland.

With this success, our welfare state can continue to exist. It will guarantee a stable economy, which again guarantees equal possibilities for every child in Finland. Equal possibilities to educate, pursue their dreams, and go forward in their lives—and maybe even found a company.

Riikka Pakarinen