A Lot of Talk about Money

Finnvera and Technopolis embarked on a joint roadshow where they drew growth entrepreneurs into discussions about the new winds blowing in growth funding. And growth entrepreneurs arrived in droves!

Innopoli, Espoo, 13 March 2015, 8:30 a.m. The Innopoli lobby is filling up with people. The coffee and sandwiches from the breakfast buffet are disappearing into hungry mouths. The air is full of excited anticipation. We have looked forward to this!

The roadshow had two targets: to inform the audience about Finnvera’s role and new funding opportunities and to bring about meetings between Finnvera’s representatives and entrepreneurs. Actually, there was a third target, which was to create dialogue and an exchange of opinions on growth entrepreneurship. And there was plenty of both.

The attendees were unanimous that Finland needs entrepreneurship and growth – and that growing companies need money. Finnvera’s message was that funding is available.

“We can fund almost anything that will grow in a profitable way,” Finnvera’s Executive Vice President Katja Keitaanniemi says.

From Espoo, the roadshow continued on to Oulu, Lappeenranta, Tampere and Kuopio.

Do we have a brilliant future ahead of us or behind us?

Katja Keitaanniemi Keith Silverang

We only have very few growth companies in Finland and their combined turnover only amounts to 8 billion euros. Only 14 per cent of them are investing in exports.

The key is to find companies geared towards growth. There’s no shortage of potential! Out of small and medium-sized companies seeking growth, 30 per cent engage in exports. Almost half of these are pursuing a growth of 20 per cent this year, and their exports have risen by 30 per cent from last year. Relatively speaking, the most growth oriented area in Finland is Northern Ostrobothnia.

The operating environment in this country is not entrepreneur-friendly and we lack international competence. The public innovation system does not work, and we lack entrepreneur-friendly debt instruments.

Although the economic situation is poor, the market is there, and the companies that are able to improve their competitiveness will succeed in that market. Growth-oriented companies have strong faith in the future. Being active is the key, also for financiers.

To increase the number of growth companies in this country, we need the right attitude and tax incentives. The terminal care of traditional industrial enterprises must be stopped and financial support must be targeted at “Born Global” companies.

Let’s focus on potential, and not just from the point of view of industries. Industrial enterprises are much more oriented towards growth than other small and medium-sized companies. We have to sell solutions, not products.

Public support must be focused on entrepreneur-friendly debt instruments. There’s no going back to the past. Unless we change the structures, we will inevitably need new sources of income. Finland’s future lies with growth entrepreneurs.

Funding is available and funding opportunities for growth are better than ever. Finnvera can fund growing companies that are going international with a guarantee of up to 80 per cent. We can even fund growth without collateral and domestic investments that benefit exports.