A one-stop service unit for new companies and those thinking of starting a business is operating in the new extension of Technopolis’ Yliopistonrinne campus. The business services center, which offers advice, funding and other services, is located on the fifth floor of Building C.
Ensimetri’s service center for startups, Finnvera, Tekes, Finpro, Pirkanmaa Business Mentors, OP-Pohjola and TE services. A huge amount of expertise, knowledge, resources and willingness to help. These all can be found at the same address, at the same round table, behind one door.
This Is Better than OK
“We used to operate from different locations in town,” says Finnvera’s Regional Director Juha Ketola. “When the construction of Yliopistonrinne’s extension started, we discussed this issue in depth both among ourselves and with Technopolis. The idea of sharing the address seemed like a great opportunity, and we moved here at the beginning of July.
“Moving offices usually involves a lot of hassle but this time it all went very smoothly, thanks to Technopolis. You can tell that they do this every day. The service environment offers added value, and the entire system works extremely well. Not simply a space but a service platform.
Consultants Support Startups
“Around 2,000 people come to us every year with the idea for a new business,” says Kaj Heiniö, Development Manager at Ensimetri. “30 to 40 percent of them end up starting a company. We help around 700 new companies to launch each year.
“When someone is thinking about starting a company, the best option is to contact us first. “We organize information events every three weeks for those who are considering starting a business, and these events are attended by hundreds of people every year.”
Heiniö says that most business ideas relate to services while around a quarter concern retail operations. There are always a few ideas in the manufacturing sector as well.
A meeting with a consultant is the first step. The consultant helps the prospective entrepreneurs to assess their business ideas, their suitability to become an entrepreneur and the actual potential of the ideas. The consultant can invite other experts, investors and other third parties to the process if necessary.
Centralized Services Offer Benefits
“An entrepreneur can make contact with all important partners through Ensimetri and is saved from having to repeat their idea to a number of people,” Heiniö explains. “For example, we can draw up an assessment of the entrepreneur and the idea for an investor, who can then make an offer immediately.”
Ketola says that having all partners under the same roof in Yliopistonrinne has proven to be surprisingly beneficial for all parties.
“We share a spacious room where we take breaks and arrange meetings. Random meetings at the coffee machine can be incredibly fruitful. If you have a question, it’s easy to discuss it with a colleague who happens to be there. Things move along.
The organizations in the startup services center have extensive networks, and the new Technopolis office make networking even more efficient. The center’s clients often highlight the importance of the network: things get done! When I’m travelling around the world, I can put in a good word for my friend’s products as well. Good deeds have a ripple effect.
Experts Support Good Companies
Companies that receive support from specialists usually do quite well. When operations follow a detailed plan from the start, the entrepreneur can simply follow the plan. Heiniö explains that Ensimetri supports new companies for five years, and 81 percent of these startups actually survive the first five years.
According to Ketola, the entrepreneurs who receive support are a distinctly successful group among Finnvera’s clients. They have a deep understanding of their costs, income and other factors concerning their operations.
Heiniö praises the specialist network that entrepreneurs can access through Ensimetri: wisdom, insight and experience are available for free, which is absolutely invaluable.
Pirkanmaa under Development
Pirkanmaa is an area that has been going through structural changes for a long time. It used to be the hub of the textile industry decades ago, and even the metal industry has been mostly replaced ICT and digital services.
“Tampere is one of the worst areas of unemployment in Finland, but a lot of this is structural as supply and demand don’t meet,” says Ketola. “There was a shortage of skilled people in the ICT sector, but the situation is much better now.
“We have also witnessed some success stories when companies have grown from nothing to businesses with a turnover of ten million euros, mainly due to exports. You need to have a bit of luck to succeed, but luck also comes to those who are well-prepared.”
Focus on Own Operations
Ketola’s organization had to get used to a new kind of office at Technopolis since now they work in an open-plan office instead of individual rooms. This will take a while but everyone is happy with the space, and being able to collaborate closely with the other organizations has also been beneficial.
“We use Technopolis’ offices in quite a few towns,” says Ketola. “Here we can focus on our own operations as we don’t need to worry about cleaning or changing light bulbs. The one-stop principle works perfectly. If we need anything, we just notify the staff in the lobby and they take care of everything.”
Read more stories from Technopolis Yliopistonrinne.
Technopolis Yliopistonrinne is located in downtown Tampere.