It All Started in a Dairy
Technopolis was established thirty years ago as a growth machine – to grow and help its customers grow as well. The company started its operations in an old dairy in Oulu. Today, Technopolis is an extensive network of business centers, unique even on an international scale, operating in eight cities in Finland, as well as in Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Russia and Lithuania.
In the late fall of 1982, a handful of companies began to settle in an old Valio dairy in downtown Oulu. A circuit board factory, a number of other electronics manufacturing and design companies and a few service companies moved into a building whose walls still carried the unmistakable odor of milk. They were all attracted to the old and slightly rundown building by one factor: a company called Oulun Teknologiakylä Ltd.
The first technology village in the Nordic countries had been established the previous winter in Oulu. The meeting to establish the company was held on March 31, 1982. Shortly after, the company had its first Managing Director, Timo Patja, and its first premises – the ones in the dairy. The first customer was TSV-Insinöörit Ltd, which later became Nestix Ltd. The company is still among Technopolis’s customers.
Hannu Käkelä, Managing Director at Nestix, says that locating the company in the technology village, which was highly publicized at the time, helped the start-up immensely with publicity and credibility. The village did not have too many shared services for its customers, and the premises were rather modest as well. “The best we can say is that perhaps they weren’t an obstacle to operations,” Mr. Käkelä laughs.
A Giant Leap
During its three decades of existence, Technopolis has come a long way from the old dairy. The company has grown, developed and transformed itself to a significant extent. Pertti Huuskonen, the company’s CEO for more than twenty years – up to 2008 – is satisfied with the progress of the company.
“The development of Technopolis has been astonishing. It has exceeded by far all the visions and plans of the time when it was established,” he says with evident satisfaction.
To see this growth and development the most clearly, compare the company’s beginnings and current situation.
The City of Oulu was essential to the founding and early years of Technopolis, creating the company as a tool to develop the high-tech industry in the region. Technopolis expanded its operations in the Oulu region, but until the turn of the millennium it did not have significant plans to extend its operations elsewhere. For a long time, the City of Oulu was the main shareholder in Technopolis.
A Listed Company
Technopolis is now a publicly-listed company – more than 50,000 people work in its business centers in six countries. In Finland, the company operates in Oulu, Espoo, Vantaa, Helsinki, Tampere, Kuopio and Jyväskylä. There are several locations in each city. In addition to Finland, Technopolis has premises in St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Vilnius, Oslo and Gothenburg.
The Growth Will Continue
Technopolis is not about to rest on its laurels. On the contrary – it wants to continue its strong growth and development of operations. Keith Silverang, the company’s CEO, emphasizes that Technopolis’ performance so far is a solid foundation but no guarantee of future success:
“I took up my current position on September 15, 2008, the same day as Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. We have done superbly well even though the conditions became extremely challenging and competition got fierce. However, succeeding in the future as well will require that we keep our key competitive edges in top-notch condition and improve them further.”
Becoming a Smart Park
Technopolis has always been about promoting the growth and success of its customers. But the company’s way to achieve this goal is continuously developing. Now, Technopolis is about to become a smart park, according to Mr. Silverang.
The evolution into a smart park means, above all, a transformation of Technopolis’s mission: from offering premises and services for success to proactively creating and promoting an ecosystem of growth at its locations. The challenge is to make the entire community operate in a more growth-oriented, profitable and cost-efficient way.
“We are encouraging and guiding all those in the ecosystem towards co-operation. When everyone works together, they achieve significantly more than they could on their own. The whole becomes more than the sum of its parts,” says Silverang.
The article is based on Technopolis’s 30th anniversary book Kertomus kasvusta (A Story of Growth).