Cultivating cross-border cooperation between Singapore and Finland
For Helsinki Business Hub, finding new and unique ways to work with international partners is the key to successful innovation.
From emerging markets like Vietnam to more developed ones like China, large swathes of Asia are rapidly joining the ranks of industrialised countries. Buoyed by new wealth, Asian consumers are also propelling the region to become one of the world’s hottest markets for innovation and investment today.
Companies and trade agencies based in mature markets such as Europe and even Scandinavia are increasingly viewing Singapore as a valuable springboard for expanding their presence in Asia. Over the past few years, Helsinki Business Hub has worked with IPI to help Singaporean companies to find Finnish business partners and at the same time, support Finnish businesses in their entrance to new Asian markets through open innovation and forging mutually beneficial collaborations.
Irma Ylikangas, senior business advisor at Helsinki Business Hub, sheds light on the organisation’s approach to open innovation, and how working with IPI and Singaporean companies has benefitted Finnish businesses.
What does Helsinki Business Hub do and what are your key capabilities?
Helsinki Business Hub is the international trade and investment promotion agency for the capital of Finland in Helsinki.
We help foreign companies set up their businesses, grow and develop in Helsinki through valuable partnerships and new innovations. With our extensive knowledge of the Helsinki business ecosystem, we matchmake companies with Finnish partners and other players in the industry according to their needs. Best of all, our services are free of charge!
We mainly focus on sustainable and smart solutions and technologies for urban environments including smart buildings, smart mobility, circular economy and new areas such as 5G and quantum computing. Fintech, health and medical sectors are also key domains for business collaborations. There are over 1,000 Finnish growth companies looking for investments in our database, and we are open to discussing with our clients and tailoring our services to meet their needs.
What is unique about Helsinki Business Hub’s approach to open innovation?
We are always open to partnering and cooperating in new ways that are non-traditional and more disruptive in nature. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and think differently. If there are no concrete outcomes, at the very least, you gain a new experience. The best case scenario would be new partnerships gained and more efficient ways of working.
In the spirit of open innovation, the City of Helsinki has extended an invitation for international companies to pilot and test their innovations at Testbed Helsinki. The platform brings together development and testing opportunities for new products and services offered by the City of Helsinki. Our role at Helsinki Business Hub is to identify opportunities for companies to innovate through various initiatives that we are actively involved in across the city.
Kindly share some examples of how collaborations with Helsinki Business Hub have benefitted companies from Finland as well as Singapore.
When Singapore and Finnish companies with mutual interests are introduced, their partnership progresses rather quickly. Helsinki Business Hub has a long-standing history of building relationships and connecting organisations in Singapore and Finland through in-person and virtual matchmaking.
Recently, we started working with the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab that is initiated by CapitaLand. The Lab offers a gateway for Finnish companies to enter Singapore and other Asian markets. Through this cross-border partnership, firms in this programme will receive help to set up, grow and develop their business in Helsinki and in turn, access the gateway to European markets too.
What kinds of companies and collaborators are you looking to work with from Singapore in 2021?
Digitalization is an area that we wish to continue exploring with Singapore companies since it is prevalent in both countries and spans several sectors like smart cities, smart buildings and smart mobility. One of the newer sectors that we are currently looking into for partners and solutions is circular economy. We are also interested in building more collaborations in the health and education sectors.
Currently, we work with large and small enterprises to introduce the Finnish ecosystem and new innovations from Finland. We also maintain very good working relationships with the Singapore government and government-linked organisations like IPI.
We hope to continue serving Singaporean companies, investors and government organisations who are looking for collaborations with Finnish companies and organisations. There are several ways for Helsinki Business Hub to help your business, i.e. to find business partners, connect with growth companies to invest in, start a business, find piloting opportunities, or conduct R&D in Finland, to mention a few.
How can companies in Singapore engage and begin working with Helsinki Business Hub?
You can visit our Singapore webpage to find out more about our recent activities in Singapore. The contacts of our business and venture advisors are also listed here. We also work in other fields that are not mentioned on our website, so do not hesitate to contact us with any of your needs.
What has Helsinki Business Hub’s partnership with IPI been like over the years, with regards to event organisation or business matching between Finland and Singapore companies?
Every aspect of our cooperation has been enjoyable, and we have nurtured excellent partnerships over the years. We appreciate the professionalism of all IPI staff and gained a lot of information on getting better connected in Singapore. Through several business matching sessions, Finnish companies have also found suitable business partners and piloting opportunities in Singapore. Thank you, IPI, for being our partner.