The President of Finland Sauli Niinistö has granted the annual Internationalisation Awards for the year 2021. The Community Award was given to the business accelerator Maria 01. Maria 01 has become the leading Nordic start-up accelerator in the last five years.
The Internationalisation Award of the President of Finland is a recognition granted each year to internationally successful Finnish companies or communities. In addition to international success, the evaluation focused on a company’s ethical operations, impact on Finnish expertise and employment as well as foreign investments and promoting Finland’s innovation environment.
“The purpose of Maria01 is to provide startups with the best possible growth environment, and the broad community plays a key role in this. Internationality has been a key part of the award-winning Maria01-community throughout its existence”, says Santtu von Bruun, the Chair of the Maria01 Board of Directors.
Maria 01 has networked with a number of international venture capital investors and global listed companies as well as established partnerships with corresponding start-up and technology hubs around the world. In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Maria 01 aims to facilitate the increase of companies established by underrepresented groups and women.
The Maria 01 campus houses more than 200 companies, 185 of which are start-ups. Other actors are either investors, business partners or start-up ecosystem operators. The companies have created an estimated turnover of almost EUR 100 million and some 4,000 to 5,000 jobs. In 2020, the companies’ estimated combined export exceeded EUR 30 million. At the end of 2020, the current and alumni companies had accumulated a total of EUR 640 million in capital investments. Foreign investments in the companies totalled approximately EUR 360 million.
”Maria 01 has been an international community since its beginning. It is something we take pride in, and with internationality being one of our core values, it is also seen in everything we do. For example, the official language of our community is English and today we have people from 39 different nationalities working at the Maria 01 Campus. The impact our members have on strengthening the international networks within the start-up ecosystem and broadening the area of knowledge within all Maria 01 companies, is inevitable. However, there is a risk of Finland falling behind in attracting and integrating international talent. There is still a lot of work to be done around the bureaucracy and the attitude environment we as a society portray. We at Maria 01, want to serve as a role model and encourage also others to take the necessary steps towards creating a more internationally inclusive working life”, says Ville Simola, CEO of Maria 01.
Relex Solutions, Peikko and Bayer other recipients of the Internationalisation Award
In addition to Maria 01 the Internationalisation Award was given to logistics management software company Relex solutions and concrete building parts manufacturer Peikko in the New Entrant and Growth Company categories respectively. This year, for the first time, the award was also given to a long-term international investor, which has created significant value for the Finnish economy. The Investor Award was given to pharmaceutical company Bayer.
“Companies are key drivers of the post-corona upturn, and the awarded companies have been able to continue healthy business in an exemplary way in spite of the crisis. This year, we introduced a new category of candidates, the Long-term Investor. With this category, we wanted to recognise a foreign-owned company operating in Finland, which, through its activities, has created economic value for Finland through new jobs, invested euros and innovations,” says Ilona Lundström, Chair of the Team Finland Network and Director General of the Innovation and Enterprise Financing Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
The proposal to the President on companies and communities deserving of the award was presented by actors of the Team Finland network. Team Finland network promotes Finland and Finnish companies in the world. With public funding, the network supports the internationalisation of companies, attracts investments to Finland and promotes the image of Finland in the world. Professional organisations also gave suggestions for candidates.