Waste-based biofuels, quantum computing, reborn textile fibres, 5G, 6G – Espoo is all about the kind of innovation the world needs. Espoo Innovation Day gathered Ambassadors of foreign states in Finland and their representatives of economic affairs from almost 50 different countries to explore the unique innovation community in Espoo.
The innovation work in Espoo, and especially in the larger Otaniemi area, is built on radical, multidisciplinary creativity and collaboration. The promise of this culture of shared goals and values to the Finnish economy and the world is enormous.
"The city succeeds in anything we do together with our residents, companies, education and development partners — the whole community," stated Mayor Jukka Mäkelä.
The Ambassadors of foreign states in Finland and their representatives of economic affairs got to explore all of this at the Espoo Innovation Day arranged on 30 May. The event was brought to the Ambassadors by the City of Espoo and Enter Espoo in collaboration with Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Foreign Ministry of Finland.
"Aalto University boasts one of the most bustling start-up scenes in Europe. VTT is the largest applied research institution in the Nordics, with a strong track record of commercializing research to business. Our collaboration is based on shared values, not on a single project," said Deputy Mayor Mervi Heinaro.
"The barriers between different actors are low and the hierarchy almost non-existent, which is typical of Finnish society. In the everyday life at the university, this is reflected in a strong sense of working together, which is a significant competitive advantage and an asset also internationally. Almost 50% of Aalto’s academic people come outside Finland," says Janne Laine, Vice President of Innovations in Aalto University.
The world needs innovations that solve problems vital to humanity: energy, climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of natural resources, food production, sustainable urbanisation and the effects of ageing on health care and the economy, among others. The problems of sustainable growth can only be solved systemically.
“The level of ambition is high in Espoo’s innovation community. With the help of science and technology, we want to turn the world’s biggest challenges into sustainable growth and create hope. This strongly motivates our employees”, says Janica Ylikarjula, Vice President of International Affairs and Policy in VTT.
The event was an excellent stage on the way to strengthening Espoo’s position as the internationally most interesting and attractive centre of innovation in Northern Europe in relation to competence, science, art and economy.
Did you know?
- Aalto University and Technical Research Centre VTT together with the city, forms a core that brings together all players — startups, students, top companies, researchers, and ordinary citizens — to create innovation for a better life.
- In recognition of the long-term innovation collaboration, Espoo came in second in the European Commission’s European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) in 2022. Espoo has been in the finals also before, in 2019 and 2020.
- Espoo is a key driver of sustainable growth. The city has been awarded as the most sustainable city in Europe two years in a row.
- The innovation community in Espoo churns out the 6th most patent applications in Europe, almost 60 % of all patents in Finland.
- More than half of Finland's university-based growth companies are founded at Aalto University in Espoo each year.
- Espoo-based companies account for 46% of the turnover of the Helsinki Stock Exchange.
- The share of science-based businesses in the startup field is significant: Between 2013 and 2022, 8.2% of the capital funding invested in Finnish startups was allocated to VTT's spin-off companies.