Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund is a fund for investment- and other projects that strengthen Helsinki’s business- and knowledge base. The fund can be used by the city departments’ central administration, subsidiaries or external operators such as universities, companies or registered associations.

On this page

Project applications are considered by the City Council’s Economic Development Sub-committee(Link leads to external service). Decisions on the use of the fund are made based on the Innovation Fund's principles of use (PDF in Finnish).

An applicant for funding can be a city department, central administration, a subsidiary or an actor outside the city group such as a university, company or registered association. All projects must have a steering group that meets regularly and includes at least one representative of the City of Helsinki.

Projects implemented by the city's departments must be approved by the head of department.

Projects implemented by the Central Administration must be approved by the head of department or the managing director of the enterprise.

The subsidiaries of a city group must have a commitment from the city department or central administration.

Operators outside the city organisation (higher education institute, company or registered association) must have a partner from the City of Helsinki's departments or central administration. These applicants will fill in a section in the Innovation Fund application that shows the commitment of the city organisation to the project. The representative of the city that has committed to the cooperation must be prepared to present the project during the evaluation and decision process of the Innovation Fund.

The most important criterion for funding applications is the project's ability to strengthen Helsinki's business and knowledge base. The funding will be directed towards development, innovation and pilot projects and related investments that will create a future business base and competitiveness.

The projects to be funded must: 

  • Enable new market-based business
  • Enable the creation of new businesses, jobs, tax revenue and skills 
  • Support Helsinki’s urban strategy

Funding can also be used to enable innovation and services that support new growth-oriented businesses.

The aim is for projects funded by the Innovation Fund to create opportunities for the emergence of new solutions (products, services, business models, etc.), especially those based on research, development and innovation, for example by developing innovation environments, creating platforms for experimentation and promoting entrepreneurship and competitiveness, and for them to play a clear role in the broader innovation and business policy framework. 

Projects financed by the Innovation Fund must contain at least 50% of co-funding provided by the applicant or consortium. Co-funding can consist of the applicant's own financial investment, in-kind financing (e.g. labor input or office expenses) and/or funding received from other sources.

The co-funding is discussed as a part of the project preparation. A co-funding of less than 50% may be accepted within the following criteria:

• The project's innovative novelty value and impact potential for strengthening Helsinki's business- and knowledge base is considered to be exceptionally significant.

• The project renews City of Helsinki organization’s structures or services that develop the economic base, and as such the project is considered to be of particularly significant benefit for the City.

The evaluation of project applications will take into account

  • Project feasibility and potential for impact
  • The benefits of the project in relation to the funding
  • The benefits of the project in developing services and promoting the well-being of the city's residents and customers, and its ability to support the city's climate and sustainable development objectives

In principle, the Innovation Fund will fund projects that are judged to have a significant impact, for which feasibility and maturity can be credibly demonstrated, which have a multi-annual duration and for which the implementing parties can demonstrate sufficient resources and capacity to manage the risks and overall implementation of the project. The results must be usable or scalable, for example for future projects.

The Innovation Fund can also provide small-scale, short-term funding for projects with significant potential for impact, but whose effectiveness, feasibility or maturity cannot be fully demonstrated at the application stage. Funding can be targeted at, for example, exploratory projects, small-scale experiments and projects where uncertainties or risks are identified.

The Innovation Fund does not finance projects that are primarily focused on the business development of a single company or that are of a basic municipal nature.

The Innovation Fund does not finance projects that are primarily focused on the business development of a single company or that are of a basic municipal nature.

The spring 2024 deadline for submitting project applications for Innovation Fund is April 10th. Processing time for applications is approximately two months. Funding decisions are made by Helsinki City Council's Economic Development Sub-committee. Committee's meeting calendar can be found on Decisions service(Link leads to external service).

We kindly ask the applicants to be in contact with us at least four week prior to submitting an application: opens default mail program)

In exceptional cases, project applications requiring a rapid response may also be processed at other times. In addition to the continuous call, the Economic Development Sub-committee may decide to focus calls for funding on specific types or themes of projects.

Project applications are submitted using the Innovation Fund application form and the attached project budget proposal form. Please note that the application form is under development. Before submitting your application, make sure you are using the latest version of the form.

Innovation Fund application form (DOC. in Finnish) (Link leads to external service) 

Budget proposal form (XLSX. in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

In addition to Finnish and Swedish, applications can also be submitted in English, but the application must include a summary in one of the two national languages. Decisions are prepared in national languages.

Send the application by email to the City of Helsinki Registry Office (Link opens default mail program)and a copy to the address (Link opens default mail program).

The Innovation Fund application form and process are currently being developed. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvement at opens default mail program).

The use of the fund and the allocation of funding are decided by the City Council’s Economic Development Sub-committee(Link leads to external service). The Economic Development Sub-committee defined the principles for the use of the Innovation Fund (PDF in Finnish) at its meeting on 8 November 2021 and follows the rules of the City's accounting funds and endowment funds (PDF in Finnish) (page 6).

The Innovation Fund can provide either full funding for projects or partial match funding to support other possible funding for the project. In principle, the fund is allocated for 12 months at a time, but can be committed to for more than one year. 

As a rule, project funding for non-municipal actors is paid in advance for a period of one year at a time. 

For internal projects, a project structure section will be opened in the central city budget, where project funding will be allocated on a calendar yearly basis for the use of the project. Project funding decisions can be conditional, for example requiring that other funding for the project be secured.

Aid granted to municipal companies or other entities engaged in economic activities is covered by EU state aid rules. Thus, aid from the Innovation Fund to companies is generally granted as de minimis aid. See MEAE guide to de minimis aid (Link leads to external service) (In Finnish and Swedish).

For all operators applying for funding, the following procedure will be followed: If the project has not started within six (6) months of the funding decision, the decision lapses and any money paid from the Innovation Fund must be returned.

The beneficiary must undertake to provide the self-financing contribution to the project indicated in the application. If the beneficiary has not implemented the project plan as set out in the financing decision and/or has not complied with the other conditions of the financing decision, part or all of the grant awarded may be recovered. Funding that does not comply with EU state aid rules can also be recovered from the beneficiary.

Projects that have received funding from the Innovation Fund must have separate project accounts. For projects lasting more than 12 months, interim reports are submitted once a year to the Innovation Fund on an interim report form

Interim report form (doc. in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

For shorter-term projects, no interim report is submitted if the project is progressing as planned. On the basis of this report, the City Council's Economic Development Sub-committee decides on further funding and changes to the use of the appropriations.

At the end of the project, the beneficiary must submit a final report and a financial statement within one month (6 months for projects that have received a funding decision before 2022) on the final report form, unless otherwise agreed. The final report must assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the project in relation to the grant received. The beneficiary also undertakes to have a final discussion with the funder at a date to be agreed.

Final report form (doc. in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

For projects with a significant financial investment, the Innovation Fund may require an external evaluation to be carried out in connection with the final report of the project. Based on a risk assessment, the municipality may also require an audit in addition to the normal financial reporting.

The information produced by the projects and classified as open data must be published on the Helsinki Region Infoshare website(Link leads to external service). Publication on other platforms can be agreed separately. Open data can be, for example, map data, climate indicators, barometers and other similar public statistical data.

Beneficiary companies and associations must comply with the Public Procurement Act (1397/2016) in project-related procurements if the contractor receives more than 50 per cent public support for the procurement.

Contracting entities such as municipalities and state authorities, universities and public law institutions within the meaning of the Public Procurement Act must comply with procurement law, regardless of their financial contribution.

Contracts that fall outside the scope of the Public Procurement Act (such as small purchases) must be carried out in a way that is cost-effective and competitive. Procurement should not be paid for by the Innovation Fund if it substantially exceeds the market price and there is no specific justification for this. The purchased services included in the project must be proportionate to the total funding, unless there are specific criteria for the extent of the purchased services.

Any journeys undertaken as part of a project must be made in the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible overall cost, taking into account the need for the journey and the appropriate and safe performance of the tasks assigned to the person concerned. When assessing the total cost of travel, account must be taken not only of the reimbursement of travel expenses, daily allowance, accommodation or hotel allowance, any salary for the employee's travel time or the official's travel allowance and other reimbursements of travel expenses, but also of any time saved by using transport. Travel will not be reimbursed in excess of what would have been payable if the travel had been undertaken in the most reasonable way for the project.

Contact persons

Erityissuunnittelija Ida Bjorkbacka

Ida Björkbacka, Chief specialist opens default mail program)