Yliopistonkatu, Helsinki / Photo: Helsinki Marketing

Helsinki steps up efforts to attract international talent

Helsinki is actively bolstering its international reputation together with local companies in the technology sector. A new marketing campaign is being launched in September to test what type of image could attract international talent to move permanently to Helsinki.

Although Helsinki already performs well in international city rankings, attracting international talent to Finland remains a challenge according to the experience of local companies.

“Finnish growth companies are among the leaders in Europe in attracting investments, and hundreds of millions of euros in foreign capital have been invested in startups here. One of the barriers to their growth, however, is attracting talent. Helsinki wants to improve the city’s image as a place to live. I believe this is possible, as the majority of foreign experts who have settled in Helsinki are satisfied with the quality of life here,” says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

Helsinki is stepping up its collaboration with companies in the technology sector to bolster its international reputation. Partners in the initial stage include Supercell, Smartly, Relex and MaaS Global, as well as the startup event Slush. A commonly recognised reason for the relatively low volume of newcomers is a lack of international awareness of Helsinki. Perceptions of the Finnish capital are both weak and somewhat outdated.

“Finding the best talent in the world is critical for us. Helsinki is a fine city, but the threshold for coming here to check it out, let alone move here, is high. We’ve noticed that, when we do get the people we are trying to recruit to experience Helsinki for themselves, their enthusiasm ignites and they are more likely to sign an employment contract,” says Kristo Ovaska, CEO of Smartly.

Helsinki seeks international test users 

Helsinki’s prospects as a potential new hometown will be tested by 15 possible recruits at the next Slush startup event. A joint marketing campaign entitled “CaaS – World’s first City as a Service” is being launched this September by Helsinki Marketing, the city-owned company responsible for the city’s marketing operations, together with local technology companies. The aim of the campaign is to engage international technology experts in a surprising and distinctive way. Digital marketing will focus initially on the cities of St. Petersburg, Krakow and London.

“It’s wonderful to see how Helsinki is seeking bold new initiatives in terms of international marketing. The target group will be addressed in their own native languages. You cannot attract attention by doing things the same way as others,” says Andreas Saari, CEO of Slush.

International House Helsinki offers services to newcomers

International House Helsinki (IHH) offers fast and comprehensive services to foreign experts settling in Helsinki. IHH plays an important role in offering advisory services to both foreign experts arriving in Helsinki and the local companies and employers who are recruiting them. Since it opened in December 2017, IHH has offered the majority of advisory and official services required by newcomers under one roof in the Sörnäinen district of Helsinki. IHH also helps companies and employers in issues related to recruiting foreign labour.

Together with its neighbouring municipalities of Espoo and Vantaa, Helsinki is also participating in the Finnish Government’s cross-administrative “Talent Boost – International Talents Boosting Growth” initiative. Within this framework, Helsinki is working in close collaboration with the State, universities and other local and regional actors to attract a skilled workforce. The aim is also to support employment opportunities for foreign experts who already live here, such as university students.

Visit the campaign website

View the campaign video