Ten years ago, university students had few opportunities to learn entrepreneurial skills or use them in practice. To fill this gap, the University of Helsinki and the City of Helsinki established an entrepreneurial community known as Helsinki Think Company.
“The goal was to create an inspiring community and meeting place for the academic and business worlds, enabling multidisciplinary collaboration and encouraging students to learn entrepreneurial skills through an easy-access route,” says CEO Eeva Siika-aho of Helsinki Think Company.
Think Company’s story officially began in 2013 when the first co-working space was opened on Vuorikatu at the City Centre Campus. It was a venue for events and meetings, enabling entrepreneurs, researchers and any other interested people to exchange ideas.
The small team led by volunteers has grown year after year and now consists of over 30 professionals from different disciplines, united by the passion to change the world and nurture academic entrepreneurship.
From the beginning, Think Company operations have aimed to encourage the entrepreneurial activities of students and other interested individuals and offer them tools to learn the required skills. Think Company has supported these aims by organising hundreds of easy-access events across the University campuses. Following the success of the City Centre Campus facility, new co-working spaces were opened at the Viikki, Meilahti and Kumpula campuses.
In addition, various workshops have helped in making entrepreneurship more accessible by building the skills required to start a business and turn early business ideas into reality. This autumn, Think Company will again organise HELSEED workshops to inspire students to transform their ideas into startups and support existing startups in developing their operations.
Various entrepreneurial programmes have been part and parcel of Think Company operations from the start. The aim has been to find practical solutions to real-world challenges, bring experts from different fields together and help them find their strengths. The programmes also support individuals in taking their business ideas to the next level.
“The first Think Company 4UNI flagship programme was organised in 2015. Over the years, numerous collaboration partners have been involved, including the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Fazer and the Ministry of Finance. The collaborative projects have produced solutions and business ideas for preventing memory diseases, reducing food waste and hate speech, protecting the Baltic Sea and increasing equality in the gaming industry,” Siika-aho notes.
Over the years, Think Company operations have led to the establishment of 100 businesses in different fields, with services and products ranging from carbon footprint calculation to vegan ice cream. Some have even achieved success in international competitions.
Helsinki Think Company celebrates its first decade with various campus activities, culminating in three events in October and November. The events are open to all.
The anniversary activities will begin on 5 October with an open event entitled Miten Maailmaa Muutetaan (‘How to Change the World’) at Think Corner. A number of experts from different fields will take the stage to remind us how we can all change the world in our own way. Register here (in Finnish).
Explore the Helsinki Think Company anniversary events here.