The City of Helsinki and Aalto University set up an incubator to promote clean and sustainable urban solutions

May 3, 2021

The City of Helsinki and Aalto University are establishing a new incubator for Helsinki-based start-ups, called Urban Tech Helsinki. The aim of the incubator for clean and sustainable urban solutions will be to create innovative and growth-oriented companies that focus on solving the challenges faced by modern cities. A special emphasis will be on clean energy, mobility, sustainable construction, the circular economy, waste management and urban food production.

Urban Tech Helsinki’s goal is to draw new experts and businesses to the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, and to support and expedite the formation and early growth of fresh, especially research-oriented companies. Additional aims of the incubator activities are to support the burgeoning of research-based innovations into international business and to cooperate closely with large enterprises that invest in sustainable urban solutions. City funding for the new incubator will come from the City of Helsinki innovation fund, which primarily aims to strengthen the local competence pool.

“Urban Tech Helsinki is an excellent addition to Helsinki’s innovation ecosystem, because the City wants to take a more active role as a platform for interesting and result-oriented innovations that seek solutions to the greatest global challenges of our time and generate new export opportunities. I am confident that by offering a functional city as a platform for local companies, Helsinki has every chance to attract the best talent and ideas, even from other countries. As an investment in Helsinki’s capacity to reinvent itself, Urban Tech Helsinki enables the development of world-class innovations in an entire new way,” says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

Urban Tech Helsinki also promotes the strategic partnership goals of the City of Helsinki and Aalto University, which include international cooperation, visibility, communication partnerships and providing employment for international experts.

“The goals of Urban Tech Helsinki align very nicely with Aalto University’s strategy for building a sustainable future. Aalto’s aim is to remodel society through research-based information, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. As a partner, we will make Aalto’s vast international network and first-rate expertise in research and innovation available to companies and the City. Urban Tech Helsinki will substantially bolster the capacity of the innovation infrastructure in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area to produce sustainable solutions that tackle the world’s foremost challenges,” says President of Aalto University Ilkka Niemelä.

“Together with its partners, Helsinki will build the best innovation ecosystem in the world and accelerate the process of solving global sustainability challenges. The Urban Tech Helsinki incubator brings together Finnish top-tier research, Helsinki’s excellent start-up ecosystem and global challenges related to the sustainability of cities, which offer opportunities worth billions of euros to Finland and innovative Finnish companies,” says Santtu von Bruun, Head of Innovations and New Experiments for the City of Helsinki.

Urban Tech Helsinki will operate in the premises of start-up campus Maria 01 and on Aalto University’s Otaniemi Campus. It will also have close links to other innovation and incubator activities taking place on university campuses throughout region. The incubator operations will be non-profit-making. The cooperation agreement between Helsinki and Aalto University with regard to the Urban Tech Helsinki activities will remain in effect 2021–2025. The aim is to open applications for the incubator in June.

Urban tech as a term refers to technology start-ups that focus on solving urban challenges sustainably with technology.

Photo: Tapio Auvinen / Maria 01

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