Helsinki launches new accelerator service to support startup growth

The City of Helsinki is launching a new incubator and accelerator service for startups. The main target group for the new NewCo Accelerator services are high-potential startup companies looking for external financing, but which are unable to find a suitable service provider due to the financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus. Through the programme, it will also be possible to provide counselling to a significant number of budding startups that are not yet close to accelerator-readiness.

The third target group of the accelerator services are the professionals who have entered the job market due to the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus. The teams founded by these professionals may reach financing eligibility quickly by means of incubator services and its partners. The accelerator service may support the teams working in the local incubators and the integration of foreign teams to Helsinki. The City of Helsinki Economic Development sub-committee decided on the launching of NewCo Accelerator on 17 August 2020.

Helsinki’s objective is to be one of Europe’s most captivating locations for innovative startups and the most attractive knowledge hub for companies and individuals wanting to make the world a better place to live in. As with many other industries, the coronavirus crisis has battered the startup ecosystem. By launching the new NewCo Accelerator service, we want to support startups with high growth potential and professionals who have entered the job market due to the financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus. If we succeed in this, the crisis may turn into an opportunity”, says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

The aim of the NewCo incubator and accelerator services is that the business activities of the startups taking part in them will go through a systematic and enterprise-specific development process. As a result, the process produces startups that are eligible for risk financing and internationalisation.

“The objective of the NewCo Accelerator is that each business client is provided with tailored business counselling from their perspective and according to their needs, which yields financing markets, board professionals and potential new success stories that are interesting to corporations”, captures Timo Helenius, Head of Growth Services at NewCo Helsinki.

Counselling services part of Helsinki's recovery from the coronavirus crisis

The NewCo Accelerator counselling services are part of the City of Helsinki’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis and helps with managing the response to the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. The city's goal for the programme is also to create new jobs and increase the city's tax revenue. At the same time, it is an effort to increase Helsinki's competitiveness as a startup city and attract domestic and international investment capital, professionals and growth enterprises to Helsinki.

According to surveys carried out in March-May by the growth team of Slush Oy, Arctic Startup Media and NewCo, the financing of every other startup is sufficient for a maximum of three to six months. According to Arctic Startup Media’s study in June, 60 per cent of the startups want professional help to identify and reach out to the right investors. At the same time, the standard of the investors in terms of the quality of the investment object has grown, as the coronavirus crisis has affected the real economy.

The NewCo Accelerator service for growth enterprises has previously existed in Helsinki from 2013 to 2017. The service was then established as a reaction to the increasing unemployment in the metropolitan area, especially in the ICT sector. The service was a success, as the revenue of the startups that received accelerator training from the service was approximately €125 million in 2014-2019. NewCo Accelerator won the Finland's Best Service Provider 2014 award at the Nordic Startup Awards. The current NewCo Accelerator service aims to support Helsinki enterprises in the recovery from the difficult situation brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

Photo: Mikael Ahlfors Keksi