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The business advisory services of Helsinki have contributed to the establishing of 30,000 companies

The business advisory services of Helsinki have been in operation for 30 years. The business advisory services have made it through several recessions, nurtured several success stories and monitored the internationalisation of corporate culture. The war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic subsidies have kept the business advisory services of Helsinki busy.
Entrepreneurship is crucial for the vitality of a city. The Helsinki Business Advisory Services assist in establishing a company, developing business operations and internationalisation; and the services are now turning 30.  Photo: Jussi Hellsten
Entrepreneurship is crucial for the vitality of a city. The Helsinki Business Advisory Services assist in establishing a company, developing business operations and internationalisation; and the services are now turning 30. Photo: Jussi Hellsten

Supporting strong entrepreneurship culture is important for the city because entrepreneurship is crucial for the vitality of the city. Of the companies that received business advice, 80 per cent are still in business after five years. Of companies that did not receive advice when being established, only half were still in business. This gives reason to assume that the model of the city functions as intended and that the services benefit people, says Mayor Juhana Vartiainen.

The City of Helsinki has trained new entrepreneurs since 1992. Nowadays, Business Helsinki offers confidential business advice for establishing a company, developing new business operation and for the growth and internationalisation of start-ups.The cost-free business advisory services are utilised annually by over 6,000 clients and the services support the establishing of over 1,000 companies in a year. Overall, 30,000 companies have been established during the 30 years that the business advisory services of the city have been available. The employment effect of the companies is about 1.5 times their own number. Nowadays the companies are being founded specially by young people, women and people with immigrant backgrounds.

Over 40 per cent of our clients have immigrant backgrounds, and for start-up companies the figure is even higher, says Toivo Utso, Service Manager at the Business Helsinki Advisory Services.

Business-friendliness is an important part of the strategy of the City of Helsinki. The economic policy objective of the city is to grow, renew and diversify Helsinki-based entrepreneurship and business activities. The Enterprise Services of Helsinki play a significant role in the creation of the foundation for this. Enterprise Services also invest in internationality by offering start-up and ecosystem services and business advice in almost ten different languages. Close cooperation with Helsinki Enterprise Agency has allowed the expert network to grow and the influence of the operations to increase.

According to Toivo Utso, entrepreneurship is increasingly attractive to women, young people and academically trained people who are significant target groups of the business advisory services.

According to research, as many as 30 per cent of university students consider entrepreneurship to be a potential option. This is also thanks to the entrepreneurship education in schools.

In companies established by native Finns, the portion of companies established by women has increased in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area to 60 per cent, and of entrepreneurs with immigrant backgrounds 42 per cent are women.

– Entrepreneurship is no longer a scary option; people have a more positive attitude towards it.

The business advisory services of Helsinki started during the 1990s recession

The activities of entrepreneurship agencies began in the 1970s in England, from where it spread to Finland through Sweden. Recessions have always increased the number of entrepreneurs; when the number of jobs available decreases, many decide to employ themselves.

In Helsinki, the business advisory services for new entrepreneurs started in the recession year 1992 when Helsingin Uusyrityspalvelu ry was founded. The city promoted the employment of young people with the Nuoret Yrittäjät (‘young entrepreneurs’) project started in 1993.

We wanted to find young people who had good business ideas but not much work experience. The business incubator operated in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki and the management team of the young project included Martin Saarikangas and Kirsti Pakkanen, Senior Business Adviser Harri Hoivala explains.

Today, Business Helsinki works together with vocational schools, universities of applied sciences and universities. A third of the clients of the business advisory services are under the age of 30.

Business advisory services provide companies with durable foundation

The latest global events have required agility from Business Helsinki. When the pandemic paralysed companies and live events in 2020, a remote appointment system was developed for the business advisory services. During the pandemic, the City of Helsinki processed about 10,000 pandemic subsidy applications from sole entrepreneurs and was practically responsible for distributing 16 million euros in subsidies.

This year, we have organised information events about companies for Ukrainian people who had to leave their country because of the war, says Toivo Utso.

Finland is one of the leading countries of cost-free and continuous business advisory services. The strong network of 31 entrepreneur agencies is also reflected in the statistics.

80 per cent of companies that received advice are still in operation five years into the future. Our purpose is to teach entrepreneur-like thinking and make the clients understand the significance of a business plan and profitability calculations.

Important years in the history of business advisory services

1992 Helsingin Uusyrityspalvelu ry (HUP)
1993 Nuoret Yrittäjät (NYP)
2008 Yritys-Helsinki
2015 NewCo Helsinki
2022 Business Helsinki

Helsinki Enterprise Services in figures

30 years of cost-free business advisory services.
30,000 companies founded.
6,000+ clients a year.
180 events a year.
7 different language options for advisory services.
40% of clients have an immigrant background.
80% of companies that received advice are still in operation 5 years into the future.
1.5 times more jobs than companies founded.
60% of companies founded by native Finns are founded by women.

Business Helsinki provides new companies and companies that have been in operation for less than five years with basic knowledge, training, events and personal coaching for developing their business operations.We also help start-ups aiming for great success to acquire financing, reach out to collaborative partners and create networks for internationalisation. We provide new start-ups with long-term support and training. Our teams of experts offer cost-free advice and training in several different languages across all business sectors.Read more about our services, contact us and get the tools you need for success. Further information about the operations is available at hel.fi/en/business-and-work.