An alliance of public sector operators is in the making, with the main objective to support the startup ecosystem in the Tampere Region. Business Tampere estimates that the alliance is good news for both startups and the business environment in general.
Alliances have already proved successful in the Tampere Region, the construction of Tampere Tramway and Tampere Tunnel (Rantatunneli) as some notable examples. In summer 2017, a group of public sector organisations decided an alliance could be a proper model for them to interact with the startup ecosystem.
– Companies had indicated that startup services are discontinuous, and that’s what originally sprung us into action, says Taina Ketola, Development Manager at The Council of Tampere Region.
Startups often need effective services in order to grow, and public sector will be able to provide a larger and more consistent service package through the alliance. The basic idea of the alliance is more comprehensive – it aims to build startup-boosting into the public sector strategies, to make it a regular part of everyday work in the member organisations.
– All the organisations in the startup alliance have a common goal: that excellent startups are started in the region, that they’ll grow, succeed and gain international visibility, while being interesting in the investors’ eyes, says Ketola.
The organisations in the startup alliance: Council of Tampere Region, Pirkanmaa Hospital District, City of Tampere, Tampere universities, Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Pirkanmaa TE Office, Business Tampere.
Matching startup needs
The alliance is designed to work for startups, but with zero startups as members. Here is why: the alliance brings together public players, and each of them is in close touch with startups, observing what’s going on in the startup scene. The alliance is there to ensure that the members’ startup activities are effective, aimed at the common goal and responding to the actual needs.
– Together we can operate in the startup ecosystem in a more strategic and systematic way. The public sector is willing to enable the ecosystem development as efficiently as possible, Ketola says.
The startup alliance has already gone through an extensive development phase. In autumn 2019 the organisations are processing the Founders’ Agreement. Service development begins, with an objective to provide a wide range of services that are useful for startups and complement services offered by the private sector.
– There are plenty of innovative companies that provide services for startups. The alliance does not compete with them, Ketola notes.
Renewing public management
When developing the alliance, public management models are also under scrutiny. The alliance aims to break down the silo mentality. According to Ketola, this happens in practice when people from different organisations meet, share information openly and keep in mind that startups are the first priority.
The public sector can also have a significant impact on the way ecosystem work is conducted. The US and China set certain examples, but Tampere Region should develop a local approach.
– Based on European values, what would a responsible and socially sustainable startup policy be like? Public sector needs to consider this, says Ketola.
Whole region gains
The City of Tampere is actively involved in startup development, aiming to increase the number of startups and boost their growth and internationalisation. By supporting startups, the City creates an internationally competitive and attractive operating environment for early-stage businesses.
– Tampere has had challenges with a fragmented startup ecosystem and operators. A well-functioning model for organisation and cooperation is needed to build a working ecosystem, and the startup alliance responds to this need, says Director of Business and Economic Development Timo Antikainen, City of Tampere.
Director Niina Immonen of Business Tampere estimates that the startup alliance is good news for both startups and the business development in general.
– Developing a shared mindset, combining resources and practical cooperation will boost services offered for the entrepreneurs, ensuring better accessibility, quality and continuity, says Immonen.
The alliance development work has also provided stimulus to the most important startup events in the region, for example Stream Startup Festival and Startup World Cup Finland.
– It’s been great to notice how our growing startup ecosystem is stirring up global interest and new success stories are celebrated frequently, Immonen says.