“Start a company in Finland!” they said, “It’ll be easy!” they said. It is not all fun and games starting a company, but Business Finland lightens up the entrepreneur process and helps international talents from outside the EU to get started, earn their Finnish residence permit, and set up successful enterprises right here in Finland. Whether you are a venture capitalist looking for the next big investment opportunity or even a tourist planning a trip to visit Santa Claus and see the Northern Lights, chances are Business Finland has something to offer you.
The public funding agency, which is directed by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and supports research institutes, corporations, and universities, offers a huge selection of services and resources. Business Finland aims to highlight the best the country has to offer by intersecting tourism, talent boosting, investment, and shaping the overall brand image of Finland.
Perhaps the most exciting possibility with Business Finland at the moment is the chance to bring in talent from all over the globe and allow them to establish their high growth companies. The Finnish Immigration Service, or Migri for short, currently offers a residence permit just for startup entrepreneurs, and it begins with getting a stamp of approval for your business plan from Business Finland.
“It can still be in the idea stage, but it must be innovative and have an international market. We’re looking for entrepreneurs that have scalable business ideas with the potential for fast growth,” says Startup Permit Product Manager Annamari Soikkeli.
Soikkeli has helped develop the Startup Kit, an essential tool for anyone who is interested in applying for the permit. The Kit provides useful information that can serve as a checklist for moving to Finland as an entrepreneur, from getting the proper paperwork sorted out, to everyday life problems, like setting up a phone contract. Since the new permit was launched last year, Business Finland has received more than 200 applications, about one third of which were approved to move forward. So far, the countries with the highest numbers of applicants include Russia, China, India, and Ukraine, and the majority of startups accepted are tech oriented.
One of the challenges for Business Finland, according to Soikkeli, is the amount of issues applicants might run into during the early stages of the process, which runs the possibility of getting rejected. “We get a lot of applications that are not always meeting the requirements for innovativeness and global growth potential. It takes very good communication and understanding. We are always trying to make this process attractive and clear to international talents.”
Along with the Startup Kit and the rest of their many resources, Business Finland is paving the way to making Finland a center of international innovation, and the unique nature of this country can certainly help entrepreneurs find their way to success. “There is lots of competition worldwide,” says Soikkeli, “but there is a strong mentality here of helping each other out. Finland is ranked very highly in connectedness, so it is easy to get help and start building your network.”
By Esmeé Xavier – October 14, 2019