City of Helsinki's cooperation with Slush

The City of Helsinki and the startup event Slush have continued to share a common goal. They aim not only to support the startup field but also to increase international industry operators’ awareness of Helsinki, which was highly ranked for its startup ecosystem and quality of life.

Helsinki’s creative, growing, and innovative startup community is one of its key strengths in the fierce competition between cities. The City of Helsinki was a cooperation partner of the Slush event, which took place at Messukeskus (Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre) from 30 November to 1 December. This year, Slush brought approximately 13,000 participants and 3,000 investors to Helsinki.

Juhana Vartiainen, Mayor of Helsinki, remarked: “Slush is an important partner to the City of Helsinki in our efforts to attract new business, investments, and experts to Helsinki. The event has played a major role in increasing awareness of Helsinki and the city’s vitality and attracting growth companies. Establishing new contacts and deepening existing ones is at the core of Slush cooperation, and we’re very proud of the fact that Slush has consolidated its position as a significant international event in Helsinki.”

The City of Helsinki invited several international investors and other guests to Slush’s main and side events. The event was set to introduce investors, companies looking to expand their operations, startups, and the international media to the business opportunities available in Helsinki and the range of services offered by the city.

The City of Helsinki also hosted a Helsinki Lounge at the Slush main event, offering a wide range of information sessions for target groups ranging from investors to startups.

Digital technology and green solutions drew interest. High-growth entrepreneurship was seen as a significant factor in solving global problems. Fields such as the circular economy, the built environment, the electrification of the transport system, and health technology, among others, were seeking green, sustainable growth and solutions. The growth companies that had gathered the most funding in recent years had focused on digital technology in their business operations.

Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development from the City of Helsinki, had emphasised: “The City of Helsinki has the ambitious goal of becoming Europe’s leading platform for pilot projects, innovative business operations, and impact investments. In order to meet this goal, we must also succeed in attracting international experts, and Slush, our partner, plays a major role in these efforts.”

Helsinki and Slush had engaged in diverse cooperation in the field of communications, among other things. They also conducted an attendee survey at Slush to survey growth companies’ interest in Helsinki and develop the city’s attractiveness further based on the answers. Helsinki offered the event participants information on business and investment activities and tips on things such as the city’s restaurants and cultural activities during Slush.

The value of the startup companies operating in the Helsinki region could already be measured in the billions, partly due to the City's actions. Helsinki had become a testbed ('Testbed Helsinki') that offered companies the opportunity to carry out pilot projects in an actual urban environment, yielding solutions to various challenges in city life.

Slush showcased the FAIR (Finnish AI Region) project coordinated by the City of Helsinki, which supported the use of artificial intelligence by SMEs. This project, launched the previous year, was chosen to receive partial funding as part of the Digital Europe Programme of the European Commission and a network of 151 European digital innovation hubs.

Paula Miettinen, Director of Business Services from the City of Helsinki’s Economic Development Department, had summed up: “Helsinki gives early-stage startups a boost by providing them with coaching services and industry-specific incubator services in the fields of health technology, learning technology, and innovative urban solutions. The City’s focus areas also include close cooperation with higher education institutions. Business incubators are meeting places for top Finnish researchers, entrepreneurs, students with entrepreneurial spirit and the entire innovation and business community of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, along with their international partners.”