Business Finland: Tampere Arena sponsor secured loans, grants on false pretences

Uros, the company with naming rights for the arena, said they did not violate any of the terms or conditions of the funding agreements.

Technology firm Uros was established in Oulu in 2011. Image: Risto Degerman / Yle

Finnish technology firm Uros deliberately withheld information and provided false details in order to secure millions of euros in product development funding during the early 2010s, state investment agency Business Finland has said.

From 2011 to 2013, the company received almost 5 million euros in loans as well as a grant of 1.25 million euros from Business Finland's predecessor Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

The agency demanded at the end of last year that Uros repay the money immediately, but the tech firm has made an appeal to the Helsinki Administrative Court.

In a statement submitted to the court, Business Finland said that in 2019 and 2020 it became aware that Uros had concealed information that would have led to the grants and loans being denied.

"The company has applied for and received financing for a proposed licensed business, which, according to the information provided, it did not intend to implement," the statement said, adding that Uros had secretly agreed to transfer the resulting funds to a Luxembourg subsidiary.

Uros was established in the city of Oulu in 2011, and has built its business around consumer and IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity, as well as cloud-based service platforms and connected hardware.

The company came to public prominence in March 2020, when it was announced that the 14,000-seater multi-purpose Tampere Arena — set to be completed in December this year — would be named the Uros Live Arena, as the firm had secured a naming-rights deal.

However, news agency STT reported earlier this month that Uros has only paid the interest on its Business Finland loans for the past ten years and only on a part of them, a total of less than 400,000 euros.

The non-payment of the loans is especially curious, STT noted, as the company claims to have made a total operating profit of more than 300 million euros between 2017 and 2019 alone.

Earlier this week, newspaper Helsingin Sanomat wrote that the company has failed to pay several small bills since July, while STT reported that Uros faced paying around 15 million euros to debtors including the state treasury, Nordea Bank and the OP Oulu bank.