Competence refined by Nokia and Microsoft has been cultivated into new business operations in the Tampere region. Some of the start-ups that were created in this way have been able to make their operations profitable very quickly and are now targeting growth on the international market.
In summer 2016, messages were sent out to the world from the Tampere region: one thousand skilled ICT professionals are available for you to choose from and pick your own. The campaign was a reaction of the local actors to the extensive staff reductions by Microsoft Mobile, and the message was well heard in Finland and abroad.
Experts who used to work for Nokia and Microsoft in Tampere are now employed by businesses that already operated in the region, research and development units established to the region and start-ups established by the experts themselves.
“Competence refined by a global giant has been cultivated into new and renewable business operations and, at the same time, an amazing network of experts has been formed in the region. This makes the Tampere region a business environment that enables the production of world-class products,” says Director Oula Välipakka of Business Tampere.
Particular sources of pride for Business Tampere are the region’s start-ups that embody profound competence, a solid cooperation network and the will to work precisely in the Tampere region, but with an international outlook from the outset. Oula Välipakka highlights three businesses as examples: Treon, Radientum and Forciot have quickly become profitable; they each employ several people, plan new recruitments and aim for growth and target international markets.
“All three businesses have their roots in Nokia and Microsoft Mobile and they do very different things, but they can still benefit from each other’s expertise,” Oula Välipakka says.
The representatives of the businesses agree that mutual trust is a significant strength of the region’s start-ups. When there are many highly competent businesses in the region and many of them employ former colleagues, the cooperation possibilities increase exponentially.
“A business can offer its customers entities exceeding its area of core expertise when a part of the solutions come from other businesses. We have in our own network many new and also older businesses,” says CEO Maria Alm of Forciot.
“Just this week, we needed the contribution of another business with an offer request. We called them, they understood our needs and were ready to help and we were able to submit our offer. It is easy when trust prevails,” says CEO Jukka Sjöstedt of Radientum.
“We have a network that covers all of Finland and, on the other hand, a global network created while working in an international business. They yield us excellent operating preconditions,” says CEO Joni Korppi of Treon.
The first leg of all three businesses can be justly described as speedy. They have been established at slightly different times over the past couple of years and they all have generated great financial figures in under one year, made the necessary investments and increased their personnel.
Competence is emphasised when the discussion turns to factors which have enabled such rapid development.
“There has been a great need for experts when we have tackled new areas to put in use our work experience gained in the field of mobile phones. Microsoft has also enabled much of it: it has provided training, work facilities in the beginning and sold equipment affordably, says Joni Korppi of Treon.
Treon has generated cash flow financing by exploring new areas together with its customers and by selling its expertise as engineering office services. According to Joni Korppi, all parties benefit when customers are provided with the expertise they need, the start-up learns new things and earns money for growth and its own product business.
“Treon is a device business. We have the ability to make different challenging wireless devices and we are passionate about device mechanics, electronics and design. We also have a team for making embedded software; cloud and other applications are available through our partners,” Joni Korppi says.
Radientum is an engineering office that offers its customers antenna design, consultancy and testing services. According to CEO Jukka Sjöstedt, the key reason behind the speedy start of the business is that Radientum employs the very best experts of this narrow competence area and customers have a clear understanding of what the business is selling and at what level of professional expertise.
“Of course it helps when I can say that our people have generated over 20 patents in this field in their previous careers. Another asset is that we have invested in equipment early this year matching our antenna design capabilities with those of Microsoft towards the end of its era in Tampere,” Jukka Sjöstedt says.
Jukka Sjöstedt highlights the profound professional expertise of the start-ups established recently in the Tampere region and believes that their cooperation will bring great opportunities.
“In late September, approximately 10 such businesses attended the HEAT event at the Subcontracting Trade Fair 2017. There was so much expertise in that group alone that there is no such electronic device that could not be made within that network,” Jukka Sjöstedt says.
The applications of Forciot combine stretchable electronics, force and power measurement as well as IoT and mobile technology. According to CEO Maria Alm, many elements clicked into place in the business from the very beginning and it enabled the speedy progression. One of the starting points was a research project on stretchable electronics carried out at Tampere University of Technology (TUT) that Forciot set out to turn into a product.
“We’ve got very skilled and experienced people on our team and we easily saw eye to eye on what we will set out to do. Another important factor was to get our customer work going from the very beginning,” Maria Alm says.
The development of own technology continues at Forciot as well as increasing the number of customers. The technology can be applied to very many different fields; at Forciot the focus areas are in sports, logistics and automotive industry.
“To us, it was clear from the start that Tampere is an ideal place to develop this technology. Much research supporting our work is carried out here and TUT can also offer us very useful laboratory capacity,” Maria Alm says.
Businesses and actors offering research, education and business services in the Tampere region form a tight network and welcome newcomers.
“Cooperation, for example with a foreign business about to set up business operations in Finland, is appealing to us; internationalisation is something we all target,” Maria Alm says.