(Published June 14, 2016) - My visit last week to Helsinki, Finland was truly amazing. Ari Korhonen a well-known angel investor in Finland organized my ecosystem trip with the support of his wife Florence Korhonen. Ari Co-Founded the Finnish Business Angels Network (FiBAN) and is Vice-President of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN).
Ari was kind enough to organize my visits to the FiBAN, to Microsoft Flux Summer of Startups Program, to Startup Sauna and Florence organized a meeting with NewCo Helsinki Accelerator. I was very well impressed with the strength of the ecosystem, with the openness and hospitality of the tech investment leadership and the quality and global mindset of the accelerator programs. I also had the unique opportunity to coach four teams at the Microsoft Flux Summer of Startups Program and was very impressed with the quality of the teams and the business ideas they are pursuing.
I hope we will continue our conversation and soon have a couple of Finnish Startups participate in Parallel 18 (P18) Puerto Rico's leading tech accelerator. In fact, one of the Finnish teams already applied to P18 after learning about it during my visit! I also hope that some Finnish startups visit and use some of our co working spaces such as Piloto 151. I believe that the quality of the Startup Sauna Accelerator program in Helsinki could be a real asset for those technology companies based in Puerto Rico looking to expand into the European market. According to Startup Sauna Accelerator Chief Operating Officer, Kasper Suomalainen, it is easier to get into Harvard than to the Startup Sauna!
Finland is a country that in many ways resembles Puerto Rico - it is a small country of 5 million people formerly dominated by the Swedish Russian Empire for about 559 years and by the Russian Empire for about 108 yrs. Incredibly enough, Puerto Rico was under Spanish Rule for 405 years and now under the US for about 118 years. Who knows what history has in store for Puerto Rico but definitely Finland was able to move on from their past and build one of the most incredible countries in the world with top grades in all aspects including education and economy being ranked in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report #8 in the world. That's pretty good for a small country.
More recently, Finland has had to deal with the loss of Nokia's leadership in the mobile market. Nonetheless, with their effort and creativity the Finns have turned their economy into a technology hub in the Nordic region. Developing a strong technology entrepreneurship ecosystem is one of our key goals in Puerto Rico and together with the rest of our ecosystem partners I am confident we will. If Finland survived the collapse of Nokia, we can also survive the Puerto Rico debt crisis and actually be at a much stronger position in the near future.