What factors make the Baltic Sea Region suitable for digital startups?

The Baltic Sea Region is attractive to digital startups. Why? There is a lot of fantastic ‘tech talent’ in the region – and there are also people with experience in leading digital companies. Against this promising background, we asked Frida Johansson, Recruiter at Supercell – a mobile game development company founded in 2010 in Helsinki – to tell us more about the prospects for digital companies.  
 
‘We have governments in the region who are keen to promote digital innovation and provide support and funding,’ Frida says. ‘For example, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes) has provided funding to a lot of startups, including us at Supercell and other well-known games studios, such as Rovio.’
 
What can be done to further strengthen the region?
‘We have a lot of talent here already, but the key to moving to the next level is to attract more international talent,’ Frida says. ‘We can become a lot stronger by becoming a melting point of experience and knowledge from all around the world.
 
‘To do that there is a need for investment in promoting the region internationally and, most importantly, making it easier to move to and settle in the Baltic Sea Region from abroad.  That’s not just about work-related things, but also making it easier for people to bring their families, find a home, get their children into schools, and more. That will not only be attractive to individuals who want to work here, but also to people who are looking for a good environment to setup and build their own companies.’
 
It takes time to get up and running as a startup. How does Frida feel the available instruments such as economic support, business angels and others contribute to this? 
‘They are all really important. The business angels and the connections they can provide are especially critical. You can have a lot of technical knowledge and a fantastic idea for a company, but it will be very difficult if you do not know how to navigate the business landscape in the region – what funding you can apply for, the people you need to know, the resources you can call on. We’re fortunate to have governments who actively support the digital economy, but there is always more we can do.’
 
So what does the ‘digital employee’ look like? Does he or she think and act more internationally? 
‘Technology has removed many of the traditional barriers that made taking companies global so difficult in the past. So it’s important that people take advantage of this and start thinking bigger from the very beginning. It’s now completely possible to build global market leaders from the region because of technology – look at companies like Skype, Spotify, King, Rovio and us at Supercell. A “digital employee” should be thinking with a really broad horizon about what they could do to make an impact on people all around the world.’
  
Talented people in many industries want to work with and learn from other talented people from all around the world. This is especially true in technology.
‘So we need to make the region as attractive as possible to international talent to stand the best chance of keeping our own talent here,’ Frida says. ‘We need to aim for a situation where people believe they can build huge companies here because of the talent and support the region can provide, then there will be less chance of our native talent wanting to leave.’

Frida Johansson, Recruiter at Supercell.
Frida Johansson, Recruiter at Supercell.

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