Espoo launches new business and innovation network at Aalto

BusinessEspoo advertising balloon outside A Grid / Credit: News Now Finland

Espoo has launched a new network to support business, innovation and entrepreneurship, based at the city’s Aalto University campus.

The hub brings together for the first time a number of regional agencies under one roof to coordinate their efforts and streamline working practices; co-located with more than 120 startups, established companies and international organisations as a one-stop-shop for business development, research partnerships, and entrepreneurs in the A Grid building at Aalto’s Otaniemi campus.

A Grid is now home to regional education authority OmniaVisit Espoo; startup service Enterprise Espoo; the Uusimaa TE Palvelut job office; and the City of Espoo Economic and Urban Development office, among others.

Networked under the new ‘BusinessEspoo’ brand, officials say that co-locating and working in a shared space brings real advantages for the city.

“It brings quick communication between the partners. We know what’s going around, we don’t do extra work, we don’t embark on roads with dead ends. But it also makes us aware of the entire business environment, what’s happening, who needs help, what kind of initiatives are needed” explains Harri Paananen, Head of Economic Development at the City of Espoo.

Sign fron inside A Grid startup hub / Credit: News Now Finland

Also joining the A Grid hub is the European Space Agency and the United Nations Technology Innovations Lab, the first of its kind in the world. Both agencies take advantage of the high level research already being done on the Aalto University campus to collaborate on space technology, peace and security, education, health, and circular economy issues.

“For the University for them of course we improve the service level of their entrepreneurship ecosystem. But we also draw new actors into their campus and to talk to them as well. There’s a lot of research initiatives that want to find company partners from home and abroad, and we can help bring that” says Paananen.

“The Otaniemi ecosystem is one-of-a-kind, but until the last years it’s been a bit closed. And I think we’re doing our part to help it open up to the rest of the world, and the rest of the region” he tells News Now Finland.

A Grid also has meeting rooms, a cafeteria, and event spaces as well as hot desks and co-working offices for rent. There’s a monthly English-language business discussion event organised by the City of Espoo, and regular clinics on marketing, legal issues and public procurement.

Exterior of A Grid building in Otaniemi / Credit: News Now Finland