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Finnish startups head to Silicon Valley

There has been much talk of Finland's new generation of startup companies. In order to grow, they need cash, which is why a trade delegation is now in the United States to attract investment.

Alexander Stubb
Alexander Stubb. Image: Kari Kuukka / Yle

Angel investors drop eight billion dollars in northern California's Silicon Valley a year in search of the next big thing. Every small company in the tech-focused region dreams of being the next Google or Facebook.

The Finnish tech design startup Idean is no different. Like most Finnish firms in the Valley, it's in the software business. It has expanded beyond offices in Helsinki and Tampere to open a US division in Silicon Valley. Idean's US CEO Risto Lähdesmäki believes Finland should focus more energy on planting roots in the region.

And this is what the government is doing. Minister of Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb is touring the US with representatives of nearly 30 small Finnish IT firms. On Wednesday he helped to ring the opening bell at New York's high-tech Nasdaq stock exchange.

"We've emerged in 20 years from a top 30 country in the world to what I would argue is a top 3 country," Stubb told the crowd at Nasdaq. "We're a great place to invest."

Today startups are on everyone's lips. A small number of Finnish success stories have provided a few bright spots in an otherwise bleak economy. Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen recently proposed tax breaks for angel investors.

"Right now is an interesting time. There are more and more Finnish startups that need customers in the US, partners and potentially funding. There's not that much funding available in the Finnish market from the venture capital and angel community yet," says Will Cardwell, who heads startup services at Aalto University's Center for Entrepreneurship.

In Finland, nine out of ten startups fail. But there's always the promise of being the one that makes it big.

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